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Fri, Nov 08, 2002

Klyde Morris No Longer 'MIA'

Klyde's ANTics Live On at ANN!

After a series of super-secret negotiations recently concluded at an "undisclosed location," (and despite the rumor, it was NOT the Mustang Ranch, or even Camp David...) ANN is pleased to announce that Aviation's most infamous non-human pilot is joining the Aviation World's Most Comprehensive DAILY News Service.

Klyde Morris, a wry, often 'in-your-face' cartoon that has gained a large following in a number of venues will soon debut twice a week (Monday and Friday) on the pages of ANN. After a number of fights... uh... heated discussions, Klyde Creator Wes Oleszewski and ANN came to terms not only on a new home for Klyde, but also agreed to work together on a book of Klyde's most memorable cartoons and assorted ANTics for publication next year.

Upon reaching this agreement, we tied up Wes for a few minutes (literally) and got him to answer a few questions about Klyde and what all the hub-bub is about...

ANN: Hey Wes... What the heck is a Klyde?

Wes: Klyde Morris is an ant, living among the humans. Of course everyone today is far too politically correct to point out the fact that... well... he is just an ant! No one in aviation would dare deny him a job as a pilot, even if he does have to sit on a stack of Jepps books in order to reach the controls, because he may file a complaint with EEOC. So they find other reasons to hose him.

Of course, if anyone thought about it, they'd realize that ants aren't a minority -- after all, there's a zillion of them crawling around out there.

The name of the character comes from the street that runs past the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, where the cartoon strip was born. I was a freshman there when I was asked to start the strip in the university's student newspaper, the Avion. I wrote the first strips but could not think of a name for the character. The guys in the dorm kept coming by with name suggestions, but nothing worked. Finally I was on the bus headed to campus on my way to turn in the first, but incomplete, strip -- and as the bus pulled onto Clyde Morris Boulevard, I saw the name, and it clicked! I changed the "C" to a "K" and the character was born.

ANN: Where did Klyde come from... and what is this "ant" thing?

Wes: As a kid I was a model rocket buff and I used to shoot them up with ants riding aboard; then I would draw cartoons about the flights of these "antstronauts." Later, in my high school years, I drew cartoons about ants on sick adventures and I kept all of those cartoons in a portfolio. In my first semester of college, I drew cartoons to decorate the walls of our dorm room. One of the guys in the dorm, Dan "the man" Karger, dragged me, my portfolio and my ant cartoons up to the Avion, and the next thing I knew, everyone on campus was reading the stuff.

ANN: Is Klyde Morris "you" or some sort of alter ego?

Wes: No -- Klyde reflects the pain and suffering of everyone else out in the aviation industry and very rarely, if ever, reflects my own personal experience. In fact I often go out of my way to not write about people that have done stuff to me. I often get these smug e-mails saying something like "So what'd you do, flunk a check ride, so you're gettin' down on the FAA?" The answer is always "NO." It's the frustrations of my readers that are portrayed in the strips and not my own, and I haven't flunked a check ride since 1978. In fact, my "alter ego" is actually found in one of the characters in one of my other cartoon strips, "The Program" but I'm not gonna tell you which character it is -- you'll just have to read it and guess.

ANN: Heritage is important; what are Klyde's "roots?"

Wes: Klyde has his roots near some roots -- he's from a nest of ants in a mid-Michigan corn field. Rather than following the normal career path for an ant -- scurrying around gathering twigs and discarded chewing gum, he elected to go to college and become a professional pilot. It's a decision that he probably sometimes regrets.

ANN: Aren't you famous or something?

Wes: Please... never use the "f" word.

ANN: Is this gonna be one of those cutesy little cartoons that I see in the funny pages or are you gonna raise a fuss now and then?

Wes: Negative, red rider! If you want cute, you'll have to go read Peanuts. My main concern with Klyde is not who I'll piss off, but that I may go too long and NOT piss someone off. Aviation is such a restrained, highly regulated, by-the-rules business that the people involved in it need a place to break loose and have a release from those frustrating pressures -- this cartoon is where they'll find it.

ANN: Whom will you piss off?

Wes: I have a special place in my pipper for the self-important blow-hards of the world. The screw-heads of middle management and the folks who were born on third base and believe they've hit a triple. I don't want them to try and feed us a crap sandwich while telling us it's peanut butter. I also have a special place in the cross-hairs for the folks who are offended by everything. I like to tweak them and tweak them until their heads explode -- then make fun of them for having an exploding head.

ANN: Why come to ANN... Couldn't you sink any lower?

Wes: After being fired from my previous publication for using the word "dominatrix" (which is a lot like Dr. Johnny Fever getting fired for saying "Booger"), I needed a place to put the cartoon in order to make me feel employed. This is the perfect outlet for Klyde Morris. It's a place where they make waves with loose cannons all over the deck. [Hey -- I resemble that remark! --ed.] It's a place like a motor cycle gang or a hockey team -- people fit in here especially because they don't fit in anywhere else -- all they have to do is be willing to jump into the fight, figuratively or otherwise, when the time comes. My wife says that such is one of the things she always liked about me: I'm always the first one off the bench and into the fight.

ANN: Aren't you scared of that "Zoom" guy?

Wes: Naaaa... some guys are just entrails on the end of my pen.

ANN: When will Klyde be on ANN?

Wes: As soon as the check clears.

ANN: What ratings does Klyde hold?

Wes: ATP, but since he's an ant, he has a really hard time fitting the certificate into his ant-sized wallet.

ANN: What does Klyde do on his time-off?

Wes: Klyde is ever tormented by his evil pager. Anyone who has ever flown for a living knows that the most frustrating and evil device ever invented is their pager. The blasted thing goes off at the worst times and normally seems possessed to wreck your day, your week and perhaps your whole life. Klyde's pager is worse than that... his talks. (Only to him, of course.)

One of the very earliest "Klydes"

ANN: I heard there's going to be a Klyde book... Will there be plenty of sex and violence?

Wes: Errr... yeah... sure... in fact JayLo is gonna do a nude scene... either that or Klyde's pager is gonna do a nude scene, depends on how much the publisher is willing to pay [it'll be the pager; trust me --ed]. Besides that, the book will contain more than 300 cartoons from the Klyde Morris strip as well as special sections such as "The cartoons that got me in the most trouble," "The cartoons that got other people in the most trouble," "Wes' picks of favorite cartoons" and other special areas of cartoons and cool aviation stuff that have never before been published.

ANN: Do you have anything you'd like to say to our ANN readers before they go looking for Klyde Morris, aviation's only editorial cartoon strip? You know, to give them a perspective on the man, the pilot, the airline captain, the mind behind the cartoon? Sort of get things off on the right foot and give our ANN readers an insight to the way that you approach life, the aviation industry and the serious nature of doing an editorial cartoon strip?

Wes: Yeah... BOOGER!

FMI: www.klydemorris.com


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