REMEMBERING WHO YOU ARE
An interview with Margaret Petrie
by David Cleary
DAVID CLEARY: Margaret, welcome! First tell us a little about yourself--the basic personal goodies such as where you live, where you work or go to school, things like that.
MARGARET PETRIE: Well, I live in Reston, Virginia, a rather non-descript
town 20 minutes outside of Washington, D.C. In fact, I think the thing
that Reston is most known for is that there's a strain of Ebola virus
named after it. ;)
Right now, I find myself waiting tables and grabbing temp work as I can
find it--not the most fun or exciting work in the world, but it keeps me
in Lion King plushies. ;)
I also do quite a few art commissions, which helps out when things get
tight. I'm not currently in school; it would be extremely hard on our
finances if both of us attended school (my fiance is pursuing a veterinary
career), so I opted out.
DC: You know your town's not too thrilling when an Ebola virus
strain is its claim to fame. Did you always live in the Washington area,
or did you grow up elsewhere?
MP: No, I grew up in New York, across the street from the Bronx in
Yonkers. I wouldn't have gotten into half the trouble I got into as a kid
if I grew up in Reston. ;)
DC: So it's safe to assume you were a bit of a handful as a
MP: Much to the chagrin of my mom and the delight of my
grandmother. I remember the day I shaved the sides of my head and dyed the
remaining hair a bright magenta; my mother's jaw dropped and my
grandmother laughed. I was a little monster that liked heavy metal,
drinking, trying any substance that was thrown my way, and doing weird and
terrible things to my hair. Strangely enough, though--through all this I
managed honors classes and a part-time job. It was a kind of controlled
chaos. I was a complete terror on the weekends and after school. ;) My
mother let a lot of things slide because she trusted me to keep things
together, and I did. I'm glad I never ended up like a lot of the people I
hung around with, though.
DC: When did you first see "The Lion King?"
MP: I first saw TLK the second week it was out. I went to a matinee show
and it was just me and a few kids with their moms. I always go to see
animated films by myself for the first time.
The kids were really cool; they got so into it. A couple of them cried
during Mufasa's death and cheered when Timon and Pumbaa came to Simba's
rescue (apparently, most of them had seen the movie before). It's always a
neat experience to see these sorts of animated films with kids around.
DC: How many times have you seen the movie, both in the theatre and on
MP: I ended up seeing it in the theatre about 6-7 times. It would be one
of those things like, "Well, I have nothing to do this afternoon--think
I'll go see TLK."
As for watching the video, I think I've seen it in its entirely about
fifteen times. I really try not to wear the movie out. I can't count the
times I've just watched certain parts of the film for one reason or
another. "Be Prepared" has been played many times while trying to learn
how to draw Scar. ;)
DC: Which parts of TLK do you like most? The least?
MP: The stampede ranks up there. It's such a perfect blend of music and
animation; it's very easy to get caught up in it. My heart was racing the
first time I saw it. Perfect.
I also very much like "Be Prepared" for obvious reasons. The look of the
piece along with the very witty singing job Irons did put Scar's slick and
cunning personality across wonderfully. I usually don't like it too much
when characters just spontaneously burst into song, but in this case I'll
make an exception.
What I really don't like and wish they could redo is the final fight
scene between Scar and Simba. It's just so incredibly cheesy and feels out
of place. It really should have ended with an out-and-out brawl like the
kind we see between Simba and Nala. Instead, we're treated to this
slow-mo, Rocky-type fight with the lions smacking each other in the face.
Ugh! What were they thinking?
I also get chills at Scar's unfortunate demise. It's just such a horrible
way to go and even if you hate Scar, it's hard to see how anyone could
feel happiness at a death like that.
DC: Are you generally a Disney film fan? And what makes TLK a meaningful
movie for you?
MP: Not especially. I had seen Aladdin in the theater when it came out,
but before that, I hadn't seen a Disney film in the theaters since one of
the reissues of Bambi.
When I was a teenager, I was more interested in animated films like
"Watership Down," "Secret of NIMH," and the films of Ralph Bakshi. To me,
Disney was syrupy sweet kid's stuff, nice to look at, but with nothing to
really grab hold of--and while I enjoyed Aladdin, I still felt it fell
into the category of cutesy kiddie stuff.
TLK changed the way I look at Disney. For one thing, I loved the way it
handled its animal cast. The characters were very lion-like, but also very
convincing in their human emotions. It also handled its subject matter in
a very mature manner. I remember watching it for the first time and during
Mufasa's death scene thinking, "I can't believe they showed his body."
That scene in and of itself gave the film a dark tone of the kind I've
never before seen in a Disney film.
The animation itself was stunning and turned me back onto drawing after a
long time away from a pencil. TLK gave me back the imagination that I had
done a good job of stomping on over the years. The movie also exposed me
to other people who loved animation and anthropomorphic animals. Aside
from that, it's a really great story. All the elements are there.
DC: Interesting--you mentioned having "stomped on your imagination over
the years." I'm wondering what you mean by that. It's a statement
that's both curious and a bit frightening.
MP: I gave up drawing after realizing I was never going to be able to
afford the art school of my choice (which was the School of Visual Arts in
New York City). Pursuing art as a career was pretty much frowned upon in
my family (it was like "Well that's nice, honey, but what are you going to
do for money?") and I was persuaded to give up this art stuff and try to
get a nice comfortable job in an office somewhere. I didn't want to press
my already overworked mother on the issue, so I agreed--and that night
took my portfolio to the overpass of Metro North and tossed it over. It
was a huge blow; it was something I really wanted, but I couldn't (or
didn't want to) stand up to the pressure from my family. After that, I
just stopped drawing. From 1990 to 1995-ish, I didn't pick up a pencil. I
enrolled in the local junior college and took all the courses needed to
become an office drone. I graduated and worked for a very short time in
that area and found I couldn't stand it. After quitting the office scene,
I just waited tables. It was great money, and I wasn't sitting around an
office thinking how much I hated being there. But drawing didn't enter my
life again until I saw Brian Tiemann's TLK web site and decided to send
him some TLK art. He later sent me a very nice letter saying he enjoyed
the pictures and, well, that got the ball rolling again.
DC: What a tragic image, thinking of your artwork fluttering away from an
overpass! How wrenching and distressing it must have been to do this. It's
like something out Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar.
MP: Truthfully, I had numbed myself so much by that point that it was just
so much paper being tossed. Unfortunately, it became clear to me at a very
young age that we often don't get what we want in life and sometimes it's
better to come to grips with that and move on. It was what needed to be
done at the time. I might look back and regret not being stronger in the
face of opposition, but that's a waste. Better to run to catch up now
instead of looking back and crying over it.
DC: I'm glad you had the courage to finally go back and do what you love.
I've always felt life's too short not to do what you like most.
Getting back to animation, you mentioned Ralph Bakshi earlier. Which of
his films do you like? And are you a fan of Japanese animation?
MP: "Fritz the Cat," "Coonskin" (renamed "Streetfight," for obvious
reasons), and his "New Adventures of Mighty Mouse" series spring to mind.
I've liked parts of most of his films--he definitely has a vision that's
very unique--but the "rotoscoping" trick he does is a turn off. Just take
a look at "Lord of the Rings" and you'll see what I mean.
I've never really gotten into Anime. It may have something to do with the
bad dubbing that's usually done on the films, but the stories often seem
incoherent. The drawing style is also not to my taste. That big-eyed,
quivering-pupil thing gets old to me after a while. I have seen some films
that I liked ("Graveyard of the Fireflies" is one), but overall it doesn't
appeal to me in the same way animation from other countries does. Maybe I
have yet to be exposed to the right films.
I was a fan of "Kimba," though, when he was on TV when I was a kid. :)
DC: Interesting that you liked "Kimba." I personally didn't care for that
cartoon much. Was it the animal characters that you liked?
MP: "Kimba" (and later "Leo") was a really cool cartoon for a number of
reasons (remember, I was around seven at the time it was on TV). Kimba was
a really cute cub who got into a lot of fights. :) He appealed to the
tomboy in me. The cartoon that preceded it, "Leo the Lion" (grown Kimba),
was great, too. I used to draw him all the time.
It was, as you noted, the animal characters that did it for me. Remember,
I grew up at a time when animation on TV was horrible. "He-Man" was the
big show along with all that terrible Hanna-Barbera crap on Saturday
morning. Compared to them, "Kimba" looked like TLK. ;)
DC: So, do you like animated films in general?
MP: I love them. :) My video and laser disc collection is primarily made
up of animated films.
DC: Which non-Disney ones are your favorites, and why?
1. "Watership Down"
This film and the book hold a very sentimental place for me. The book was
read to me first by my older sister every night before bed (we shared a
room) for nearly a year. It was a ritual of sorts. The two of us would lay
in our beds across from each other, waiting to hear my mother's car come
up the drive as my sister read the story a chapter at a time every night.
It was one of the few times we wouldn't fight.
The film was introduced to me later on by my favorite uncle while he
babysat one night. The movie was on HBO and we just sat quietly and
watched together. He liked it just as much as I did, which I thought was
really cool for an adult. The movie was also the first time I had seen any
sort of real-life violence in animation. I was a bit disappointed the
story wasn't more like the one that was read to me, but it still stayed
with me a long time.
2. "The Nightmare Before Christmas"
It's just a lot of fun.
3. "Allegro non Troppo"
An Italian version of "Fantasia." I especially like the part that shows
the evolution of sludge from a Coke bottle set to Ravel's "Bolero."
4. "The Last Unicorn"
You know, I completely forgot this one when you asked about Anime, but I
do like this movie quite a bit. It's so melancholy. I only watch it when
I'm in a really upbeat mood, otherwise it gets to me.
That's the short list. :)
DC: Did you have a favorite Disney animated film before TLK (you mentioned
Aladdin specifically above)? And is it safe to say that TLK is your
favorite Disney film of this type? Have any of the post-TLK Disney movies
struck your fancy?
MP: Before TLK, I would probably count either "Sleeping Beauty" or "Fox
and Hound" as my favorites.
TLK is still my favorite of the post-Mermaid films. "Hunchback of
Notre Dame" has some moments that rival it ("Bells of Notre Dame" comes to
mind), but the story doesn't hang together very well after multiple
viewings. There are too many negative things that stand out like the
gargoyles and Quasi's deus ex machina rescue by Phoebus that keep it from
being as satisfying as TLK is to me.
"Pocahontas" totally missed the mark for me--in fact, I couldn't watch it
straight through it was so boring. The trailer for "Mulan," however, looks
very promising. Let's hope they do it as well as it looks like they will.
DC: "Sleeping Beauty" and "Fox and Hound"--that's a really unusual pair of
favorites. What impressed you about these two movies?
MP: "Sleeping Beauty" has Maleficent, a really cool evil fairy if there
ever was one. I remember seeing the film as a kid and the part where she
turns into a dragon impressed the hell out of me. I really wanted her to
eat the prince. ;)
"Fox and Hound" had a lot of the blood and guts feeling "Watership Down"
had (which was my very first animated obsession). The fight scenes between
Todd and Copper were very exciting, and again, it was an animated feature
that had animals as its center.
DC: Like Amy Guranovich, who I interviewed for Issue 4, you're a big Scar
fan. Tell me what you like about him.
MP: It was love at first sight. The design is what first made me pay
attention to him. I love that long, lean, dark look. He's the type of
character I would have designed if I had the talent Deja [Scar's designer]
The voice also plays a big part. I can watch TLK and not picture Irons in
my head as Scar speaks. The voice and animation are so well matched.
Like Amy and many other fans of Scar, I do feel empathy for the character
as well. Although I do take exception with people who paint Scar as a cute
and cuddly character whose paws are clean of all wrongdoing. He's bad, but
do I think he's that way just because--or does he have a real motivation
besides a raw lust for power?
There's a saying, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Personally, I
think the reverse is true many times. Powerlessness corrupts as well and
gives people the feeling that no matter what they do, they're not
responsible because they come from a position of powerlessness. This is
where I think Scar lies. He's convinced of the rightness of his behavior
because he perceives himself as powerless. It doesn't justify his actions,
but it also doesn't make him a force of pure evil. It makes him the same
as many petty tyrants one comes in contact with on a daily basis. Of
course, most of them don't kill off family members, but I think you get
the idea. There's much more to him than the one-dimensional villain I
think that many people see. Sorry--the sociologist in me just popped out
Plus, on top of all that, Scar is a character with a lot of potential. I
can see him playing a lot of different roles aside from the one assigned
for him in TLK. He's become more than the "villain of TLK;" he's taken on
a life of his own. Not just for me, but for many TLK fans.
DC: The sociological discussion you mentioned in relation to Scar--points
which I agree with, incidentally--seems to say something about TLK's
characters in a larger sense. I've always been of the impression that
they're more multifaceted and complex than most animated movie characters.
MP: They are--which is why I think people so easily read things into their
characters that may or may not be on the screen. Whether or not this was
intentional, or just a by-product of the talent that worked on the film I
don't think we'll ever know.
DC: And I guess it's safe to assume that you find Scar to be, well, quite
attractive in the way a Nalaholic like myself finds Nala fetching?
MP: Absolutely. If I were a lioness, Scar would have a very close friend.
DC: You at one time had a TLK merchandise collection of staggeringly large
proportions. I'd be interested to hear more about that.
MP: Hee hee--the TLK collection of doom. :) It started harmlessly enough
with a Scar PVC purchased at the Disney Store next to the theatre where I
first saw TLK. Then I got a plushie here and a poster there until I found
myself with well over 100 little TLK items scattered all over the house. I
had every plushie made by every company that produced them. Cups, plates,
lithos, games, PVC figures, figurines, snowglobes, ornaments--yeesh, I
even had Scar roaring at Shenzi painted onto the side of my Chevy. ;)
I've since trimmed things down to a humble Scar collection. ;)
DC: The TLK collection of doom--I like that! :) Seems to me
you once mentioned that your bed was so covered with plushies you couldn't
see the bed anymore. :) What prompted you to lighten your load of stuff?
MP: Heh, well that's the way it was referred to by my other half. It
finally got to the point where it was becoming almost ridiculous. I also
wanted to buy a few things (Scar things) that I couldn't have afforded
without selling off some of the stuff I owned. The Scar maquette was a big
purchase that I financed partially with sales of my Simba plushies. The
collection is still huge, but now it's a sea of black manes wherever you
go. ;) I'm amazed how much and what kind of stuff Scar is on.
DC: Which of your TLK merchandise items do you consider the most unusual?
MP: The Scar infant socks rank up there. They're socks made for a tiny
baby with a really angry-looking Scar on them. That might not sound so
strange, but they don't strike me as something someone would put on a
baby. Well, I might, but I'm not normal. ;)
DC: The Scar maquette you mentioned--that's a really major item, yes?
Would it be safe to say it's your favorite piece of TLK merchandise? What
other things do you count among your favorites?
MP: The maquette is my favorite. It's such a nice piece of artwork; they
put so much detail into it that you can count the ribs on Scar's side. I'm
also partial to my Scar plushie. I looked for it for so long--it took over
a year for me to track him down for a reasonable price. Surprisingly, I
don't spend very much on my TLK collection. I just hunt a lot and find
some great deals.
DC: Are you involved with the TLK MUCK, #IRC, or similar ancillary fandom
MP: Nope, I'm not good at MUCKing or #IRC. Too quiet I guess. I do fan art
and write fan fiction as I find the time and maintain a small online
shrine to Scar.
DC: Ah yes! I've seen your fanart, and it's excellent! As one might
expect, it's very Scar oriented. Which of your TLK fanart pieces are you
especially fond of?
MP: I still have a soft spot for the ones on Brian Tiemann's site. They
were the first pics I had put online, and Brian's encouragement drove me
into other areas with my art.
Of the current stuff, I like the Bogart-style Scar and many of the pics
that reside on the second and third archives of mine on Mike Ponce's site.
I'm finally able to handle the character in a way that doesn't require me
to look at a picture.
DC: What's the address of your web site? I'm sure people who don't know
your work will want to see some examples.
MP: Well, there are a few places to check:
http://www.lionking.org/~kese for my Scar page.
http://www.furnation.com/kese for my furry work.
http://www.cytag.nl/homes/scar for a ton of my TLK fan artwork.
DC: Tell me about your TLK fan fiction. What have you written over the
last few years?
MP: I wrote "Taka's Song," which is undergoing a rewrite at the moment.
The first time around, I let Scar off too easily--this time he's got to
work for it. The story will follow him around from the end of TLK to his
death and will probably be pretty danged long. ;)
Aside from that, I've done a couple of little pieces like "Scar's
Journey" and I'm working with Dave Morris on "Father Knows Best," which
presents a storyline not yet approached by any other fanfic. It's a
daunting task working with such a talented writer, though--it's a little
I've also been working on a rather lengthy essay about the TLK fandom in
DC: Any previews you want to give about the TLK fandom essay you're
MP: It will basically cover what the fandom has done to me as a person,
with a broader overview of its evolution. I came into the fandom after the
first big surge and right before the explosion and I find it very
interesting the way it moved from a small group of people talking about a
movie to a large group of people with a language, culture, and norms of
DC: The fandom essay idea sounds fascinating. The inner workings of such a
community strike me as most interesting, almost like doctoral thesis
material (but in a good way, not the dry-as-dust way).
MP: I'll try not to sound like an uptight scholarly type. ;)
DC: How did you discover the TLK fandom base?
MP: Aside from stumbling upon Brian's site, I found the TLK newsgroup and
lurked for a while. The subject of heated discussion at the moment was
"Scar: Villain, or Cinderella with an attitude?" I didn't pipe in until
the very end of the discussion. I was a newbie to the 'net and am pretty
quiet around people I don't know, so I was intimidated at first. It seemed
very much like a closed society. But after joining a couple of
discussions, I realized you all were such a friendly bunch. ;)
DC: TLK fanart is of course only a small part of the visual art you do.
I'd love to hear more about your other artwork.
MP: Since discovering the TLK fandom, I've also discovered the "furry"
fandom (it's based upon art stories about anthropomorphic characters) and
have found a comfortable niche in which to work. I'm also trying out other
things as well--it's never a good idea to get painted into a corner. My
current furry artwork can be seen at:
I'm still learning quite a bit, but I think I've improved since I first
started showing my art online.
DC: Tell me about the furry characters you've drawn. Some furry artists
have favorite signature characters that they draw repeatedly. Do you?
MP: Not especially. I do have a series of characters that make quite a few
appearances in my art. They're North American animals which represent
Native American ideas and beliefs. They're a wolf, coyote, bobcat, and
I do draw myself in a furry persona, but since I don't MUCK, I don't have
much occasion to use her.
DC: Do you do non-furry, non-TLK art as well?
MP: I haven't done any recently. I used to do a lot of strange paintings
that would border on the surreal. It was art very much influenced by the
work of Ralph Steadman and Gerald Scarfe. Very loosely drawn and somewhat
disturbing stuff. It's something I would like to take up again in the
DC: From what you wrote earlier, it might be easy to assume that you
didn't do much art study, that you are largely self-taught.
MP: Mostly. I went to a "magnet" high school for kids gifted in art and
took commercial illustration. There, I learned to air brush and mix
paints. The basics were also taught. After high school, though, that was
it. Everything from then on was trial and error.
DC: Having lived in New York and been a visual artist, you must have hit
the art museums frequently. I'd think the Big Apple would be a goldmine
MP: It was, and there was so much variety, too, from legitimate museums to
murals painted around the city. I miss going to shows and galleries and
having access to art house theaters. Virginia is very conservative, and
the only artists' group consists of housewives who paint with the Bob Ross
DC: New York in fact is a mecca for visual artists of all types. Do you
see yourself returning back there in the future for career reasons? Or do
you like Northern Virginia enough to call it home permanently?
MP: Ye Gods! Bite your tongue! ;) Seriously though, while New York is a
wonderful place and there's so much that I miss (good food, good shopping,
blues bars, and Broadway), it also has too much that I don't miss (crime,
drugs, high rents, pollution). I do travel back there quite often enough.
I'm very interested in moving even further out into the country. If I
could afford it, I'd be living in the Shenandoah Valley. I love the quiet.
We spend a lot of time there in the summer and I could envision living
among the tall trees and mountains of Virginia. That would be ideal. :)
DC: How is the art scene in Washington, D.C.? I'd bet you've gone to the
National Gallery of Art a time or two. Do you know much about the local
artists, the smaller galleries, art clubs, and similar things in the area?
MP: The National Gallery is a good bet to see something new. They host a
new artist every few months or so and we usually go down to see it. As for
local art, it's mostly of the craft nature--people who make jewelry,
wreaths, and things like that. Not my scene. I find the online community
very exciting when it comes to art, though. I've been exposed to more art
and in different styles since coming online than in any time in my life.
DC: Whose artwork do you consider to be most influential on your own?
Besides these, which visual artists, either of today or distant history,
are among your favorites?
MP: Of furry artists, Ken Sample stands out as one of the most
influential. His characters have a very warm, plushy feel to them--almost
like you could touch the art and feel the soft fur.
Of classical art, I enjoy Picasso during his Blue Period. They had a show
of his work at the National Gallery not too long ago. What a treat--there
was so much to look at! I don't know how much influence the classical
artists have had on me. Unfortunately, probably not much directly. I was
poisoned by pop culture a long time ago. ;)
Art Spiegelman is a favorite of mine when it comes to pop artists. He's
counted by many people as a comic artist, but he's more than that. I
highly recommend "Maus" to anyone interested in World War II history or
just looking for a really moving story.
DC: What did you like about Picasso's Blue Period works?
MP: The sombre feelings that just fall out of them. Picasso is there, he's
just all over those paintings. When an artist opens their head like that
in their work, I feel it and respond. Which is why I don't like much
"modern art" (if you can call it that, in my opinion). To me, there's
nothing there; there's nothing I'm walking away with after looking at it.
Those pics of bright splashes of color and little patterns just leave me
DC: Any pre-20th century art favorites?
MP: I do like Van Gogh and Rembrandt (I have his portrait hanging in my
living room). There's a certain sadness to Rembrandt's work that I find
appealing. It's a running theme in many of the things I find interesting.
Which is why I find the work of Andy Warhol very unappealing. All of it
that I've seen is very superficial. Art, music, and writing really need to
touch a nerve for me to enjoy it, which is why I tend to like individual
pieces of art instead of artists as a whole.
My favorite pieces include:
Picasso: "Guernica" (a very disturbing and painful work), "The Tragedy,"
and a piece I can't remember the name of which depicted the ascension of
his friend to heaven.
John Singer Sargent: "Street in Venice."
I also like a lot of folk art--African and South American art. I have
these masks I got in Mexico. They're of these horrible, leering demon
heads and they're supposed to be worn for some holiday in Mexico when they
celebrate death. I've seen the influence of these fellows creeping into my
I'm very drawn to dark works and works which may even disturb me. Art has
to do something to me. A work can be technically brilliant, but just not
I've tried to do this with my own work, but it's not coming through as it
used to. I find that some of my most unusual work comes through when I'm
in a bad state of mind. Life's been pretty peaceful, and so....My own work
these days tends to be very straightforward.
DC: Of course, I've heard it argued that an artist needs to somehow
distance oneself from turmoil, distress, and tragedy before being able to
depict it properly--that one cannot, for example, be suicidal when writing
a book about a suicidal person. Is it enough to know the "dark side" from
one's past experience and then depict it at just enough distance so that
one is not ovewhelmed by it? Might it thus be possible to create the dark
art you want even though your life is not so dark right now? Thoughts and
comments are welcome on this idea.
MP: I've tried, but it never seems authentic to me. I seem forced. I'm not
sure why this is--maybe I've just convinced myself that I can't do it
without having some sort of unpleasantness going on.
If I do get more personal, I can produce some stuff that I think works.
But I'm a bit uncomfortable with letting the "audience" get that close to
DC: Interesting that it works this way for you. For me, I'd have guessed
that "going for broke" in the sense of taking that ultimate risk (letting
the audience see my raw guts) might produce my best art work.
MP: It does produce some very good work. But it also opens you up to
examination by other people. Being an introvert of sorts, I'm not always
willing to let people get that close.
DC: What media do you work in with your visual art? Or do you try most
everything--oils, watercolor, charcoal, colored pencil, etc.? Any media
that you prefer?
MP: I like inks and brushes for my black-and-whites, and acrylic paints
and computer color for my color work. I'm not very good with watercolor;
it always looks sloppy after I've finished with it. Colored pencils can be
fun, but they don't always give me what I'm looking for in terms of depth.
I need to learn more techniques before I can work with them to my
satisfaction. Acrylics are my preferred media for hand coloring. They're
very versatile and cheap.
DC: Where do you see yourself with your artwork a number of years down the
road? What would you consider to be your dream situation in this regard?
MP: I'm hoping to find work on a steady basis with a company, as an
illustrator or storyboard artist ideally. Competition is fierce, however,
and there are a lot of talented people out there.
DC: Do you have any interest in working as an animator--doing cells and
MP: I have an interest, but not the confidence in my talent. I don't have
a degree from an art school, and in animation that's a definite
DC: You mentioned going to blues bars. Sounds like you're a big fan of
this genre. What kinds of music do you enjoy most?
MP: I'm very eclectic when it comes to music. I can listen to a Metallica
album and then cry when I hear Beethoven. The only music I can say with
conviction that I don't like is dance music, Baroque classical, and rap.
They just don't do a thing for me.
The jazz clubs and blues bars in the city were fun. You'd pop into a
place, order a drink, sit in a smoke-filled room, and listen to anything
from a woman with a harp to a wizened old man playing a beat-up acoustic
guitar. I think living in the city is what gave me my taste in music;
there were so many things going on and a lot of it was really good.
I got my taste in harder music from hanging around friends who played
instruments and would do shows in the small bars and clubs around the
city. You'd tag along, listen to all the acts going on before them, slam
around, be loud and obnoxious. It was a great time, a hell of a way to
DC: Do you listen to music while you do your visual art? Many artists I
know do so.
MP: Not usually. I find it distracting sometimes. I'll get so into the
music that I start getting sloppy.
DC: You mentioned "The Simpsons" and "Law and Order" as favorite TV shows.
What do you like about them?
MP: I was a fan of Matt Groening's "Life in Hell" strips. They were a
regular feature in the Village Voice, which I bought faithfully while
still living in New York. "The Simpsons" has a lot of that off-kilter
humor that the strip has. It's the one comedy show which always gets a
laugh out of me.
"Law and Order" in its first four seasons was just a really interesting
show. I don't watch the current season--the characters have changed quite
a bit and it has that nighttime soap opera feel to it. I hate soap operas!
But when it first came out, it was just so good. The writing, the
characters...I don't watch much prime-time TV, but I used to be glued to
the TV on Wednesday nights.
DC: Chocolate as your favorite food? I'm sure many folks can relate to
that. Given your preferance for gutsy rather than mushy animation, I'd
guess you prefer semi-sweet chocolate. What's your ideal chocolate
MP: European chocolate wafers, mmmmm.
DC: Your movie favorites are excellent ones (at least in my opinion). What
do you enjoy best about "Slingblade," "Dr. Strangelove," and "Schindler's
MP: "Schindler's List" is one of those movies that sucks you in and makes
you feel as if you're in that time and place. The characters are all given
three-dimensional personalities. Too often when you see films about this
time in history, they play the script like a "Star Wars"-style
good-and-evil thing. Spielberg reminds you constantly in this movie that
these were people doing these atrocities, which of course makes the
horrors of the Holocaust all that more frightening and sickening. What's
going to hit you harder, a Darth Vader-like Nazi who is a caricature of
evil, or a real human capable of ruthlessly torturing and murdering
innocent people--who then goes home to his family as if all is right with
the world? Very powerful and very frightening.
"Dr. Strangelove" is a really funny Orwellian satire done by one of the
greatest talents in film. What can anybody say about any of Kubrick's
work? I love political satire, and this is one of the best.
"Slingblade" is another one of those movies that draws you into it. It
was a funny and sad movie at the same time. I really liked it,
DC: Speaking of which, I noticed you mentioned Ralph Fiennes as your
"pin-up" of choice. He's a lean, dark type like Scar, isn't he? Would it
be safe to guess that your fiance also fits that description? :)
MP: Hee hee, six feet of olive skin, black hair, and green eyes. He's a
lot like me in some respects, but much more grounded. He keeps me
level-headed. He's also a very interesting person who after six years can
still surprise me.
DC: Do you have other hobbies and interests? I've heard you have a rather
large menagerie of real-life critters at home besides the plushie ones.
MP: I fish a lot in the summer. I'm on hunt for that mythical 15-pound
bass. I haven't got him yet, but he's out there...waiting....I also like
diving when I get the chance, as well as camping.
And you're right, we do have quite a few animals sharing our home. Our
two cats, Grissellfritz and Pyewacket, are our kids. We got both of them
from the local animal shelter. Pyewacket is a tiny, graceful, nutty cat
whose favorite game is fetch, and also trying to run me and my fiance down
as if he were a tiger and we were a couple of water buffalo he's laying in
wait for. It's very funny when a six-pound cat ambushes you from under
the table, grabs your pant-leg in his teeth, and tries to pull you down.
;) Grissellfritz is a huge Maine Coon Cat whose hobbies are: eating,
sleeping, eating, sleeping, and eating and sleeping, in that order. ;)
We also have two Jackson's chameleons (Popeye, named because he caught a
jaw infection which made his face puff out like Popeye's--it's gone away,
but the name stuck--and Mrs. Smiley. Guy Smiley, her mate, passed away
from old age a few months ago). We had a clutch about a year ago--sixteen
little chams crawling around the house. They've since grown up and left
home, and now live in California as part of a captive breeding program.
We both love animals, and if we had the room and time to give them, we
would love to have more of them around us.
DC: Margaret, I've really enjoyed our discussion. I must admit, I found
you to be a fascinating person to interview. I very much wish you all the
best in your art work, in all things TLK, and with life in general. Thank
you so much for your time and candor.
MP: Thank you, Dave--I did too. It's not often I get the chance to talk
someone's ear off like this.
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