HomeNewsEditorial cartoonist Clyde Wells dies

Editorial cartoonist Clyde Wells dies

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Nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist Clyde Wells, who worked at The Augusta Chronicle for nearly 27 years, died Dec. 27 at his Martinez home. He was 87.

Barry Paschal, who spent 30 years at The Augusta Chronicle, including eight years working in the editorial department with Wells, called the cartoonist a “monumental figure for Augusta.”

Wells was a consummate professional and a great friend, colleagues said.

It didn’t matter what side of the political fence a government official was on. Wells was going to call out politicians for their missteps, according to Rick McKee, who also worked with Wells for eight years before becoming the Chronicle’s editorial cartoonist after Wells’ retirement.

“He went after both sides. He was equal opportunity in that regard,” McKee said.

And he didn’t make enemies of those he drew, Paschal said.

Becoming an editorial cartoonist wasn’t Wells’ original career path. The Florida native graduated high school in 1952, went to college and worked different types of jobs before moving to Atlanta in 1967 where he tried not-so-successfully to sell cars and real estate, according to his obituary. He had a realization one day.

“From the first grade, it was known that he could sketch and draw cartoons, but he had never had much interest in pursuing it even as a hobby. He kept his day job and in his free time starting drawing gag and editorial cartoons and sports drawings and presenting and mailing them to magazines and newspapers,” the obituary said.

Then, editorial page editor Louis Harris began to hear about Wells and convinced publisher William S. Morris III to give Wells a 90-day temporary job.

That 90 days led to 27 years.

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His work was nationally syndicated to more than 400 newspapers and publications worldwide, often appearing in publications such as Time, Newsweek and Playboy magazines and The New York Times and Washington Post, according to the obituary.

His cartoons were compiled into three different books.

“President Jimmy Carter wrote the foreword in his first book, The Net Effect, 1979, in spite of the fact that Clyde routinely skewered him in his cartoons throughout his term of Governor of Georgia and as president,” his obituary read.

Paschal said Wells liked to come up with his own ideas for cartoons despite others, Paschal included, passing on ideas to him.

The one idea of Paschal’s that Wells liked and drew is framed. It came after the Berlin Wall fell and showed former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev standing over a Russian bear, trying unsuccessfully to perform CPR on it.

Paschal said people often thought only of Wells’ editorial cartoons, but he was an exceptional artist.

His portraits and landscapes were phenomenal, said Paschal, mentioning Wells’ drawings of figures such as University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and University of Georgia football coach Vince Dooley.

He also drew scenes from The Augusta National such as the large oak at the 18th green and Eisenhower’s pine. Paschal has both of those drawings.

Not only was Wells a great artist, he was a great mentor and friend.

McKee said Wells knew when McKee was hired that plans were for McKee to move into the position when Wells retired. Wells invested in the young artist and gave his time and expertise.

“He gave great advice, and I got to know him as a friend,” he said. “It’s sad to see him go.”

James Folker was another former colleague of Wells’ at The Augusta Chronicle.

“Clyde was a great cartoonist and a good friend to me when I was just starting out in the early 1980s. With him and Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle had great cartoonists for nearly 50 years. Not many papers its size could match that,” said Folker, who worked for the Chronicle for 29 years.

A graveside service will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 29, at Hillcrest Memorial Park with Judge Daniel J. Craig officiating. No formal visitation is planned.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the Features Editor for The Augusta Press. Reach her at [email protected] 

8 COMMENTS

  1. Clyde was A Great American, as Lewis Grizzard used to say. In our Optimist Club he was just one of us, totally unassuming and unpretentious. Whether at meetings, the Christmas tree lot, or the fair parking lot, he took his turn like everyone else. Oh, did I mention he was a born smart-aleck with acerbic wit? Proud to be one of his many friends and I’ll re-enjoy going thru his books in my bookshelf of prized books. Rest In Peace, friend.

  2. CLYDE WELLS PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN SAVING THE STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL SACRED HEART CULTURAL CENTER WITH THESE WORDS:

    “TO DESTROY A WORK OF MAN’S CREATIVE BEAUTY
    IS TO BRUISE THE SOUL OF ALL THOSE
    WHO EVER LOOKED UPON IT”
    (Clyde Wells 1970-saving Sacred Heart!)

  3. I had the pleasure to spend a few minutes talking to Mr Wells when he spoke to our Uptown Augusta Kiwanis Club. We talked about my deceased father in law John Anderson, who Clyde usually depicted in his cartoons of the Richmond County Commission in the early 70’s as a quiet man with large glasses. He told me my father in law was free of scandal and he respected him for his ethics. I thanked him and said one of the first things I turned to in The Chronicle was his editorial cartoon. He thanked me as he signed his book and said he loved his job. RIP Mr Wells.

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