Pat Bagley got his start in the cartoon world when he was attending BYU, and he's been here, working as the cartoonist at The Salt Lake Tribune, ever since. This week, Shauna Lake sat down with the man behind the cartoons to find out why he says Utah is the perfect fit for both him and his cartoons.
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Below is a transcript of Shauna Lake's interview with Pat Bagley:
SHAUNA LAKE: I think it's so interesting how you can take such a complicated issue and explain it in a cartoon with maybe one caption.
PAT BAGLEY: Well most of the time the legislature does my work for me. They make it so easy. They just kind of give me an underhand slow pitch, and I hit it out of the park. Doing cartoons in Utah is the easiest job in the world.
SHAUNA LAKE: When did you know you had this talent?
PAT BAGLEY: Well I grew up in a home that was very political. My father was, first he was city manager and then he became mayor in Oceanside, California. Every evening we watched TV and there was always a newspaper there so it was a very political household. But he would sit in front of the television with a sketchpad, and he would do caricatures of people on the news,¦you know Cronkite and all those people. So I grew up thinking this was something that everybody did, and he demystified the process for me.
SHAUNA LAKE: Did people say, you have a real ability here, you should pursue this. Or was it just something you kind of always did on the down-low without anybody really knowing? How did it evolve?
PAT BAGLEY: Well as a kid I really liked art, and I grew up in a household that was very practical, and my mother told me the only kind of artist was a starving artist and that I should do something practical. So I went to BYU, and I was taking political science and history and you know kind of getting ready to go to law school. But then I started to doodle on my class notes, and I did a cartoon in my class notes. So I took it to the Daily Universe, and they hired me. And it was from the Daily Universe to here.
SHAUNA LAKE: Literally from the Daily Universe to where you are now? You went in that one transition to your job?
PAT BAGLEY: Yes. I took this cartoon, it had to do with BYU housing, and the justice department was going to sue BYU because BYU was not allowing men and women to live in the same apartment building. So I did this cartoon, and I took it to the Daily Universe and Nelson Wadsworth who was the student advisor, he looked at the cartoon and said, you know this is pretty good. I want you to take this and do a finished copy, something we can print. So I ran home and did the copy, and it ran in the paper. I went into work a few weeks later and the secretary said, Congratulations on getting your cartoon into Time Magazine.
SHAUNA LAKE: And you're how old?
PAT BAGLEY: I was 21.
SHAUNA LAKE: Oh my gosh!
PAT BAGLEY: Twenty-one years old. First cartoon I ever did made it into Time Magazine.
SHAUNA LAKE: And what does that feel like? I mean nobody can really understand that kind of exhilaration I'm assuming.
PAT BAGLEY: Absolutely. I mean I was hooked. From then on I was going to be a cartoonist no matter what.
SHAUNA LAKE: Do you write your cartoons in a way where people feel like you lean more one way or the other?
PAT BAGLEY: Well I think its pretty clear from the people who look at my cartoons, that the cartoons are fairly liberal¦progressive. I wasn't always that way. When I came out of BYU I was fairly conservative, but over the years I've kind of matured. And it was during the George W. Bush administration that it really radicalized me.
SHAUNA LAKE: And how do you write about your religious beliefs because I hope you don't mind me saying but you call yourself a retired Mormon.
PAT BAGLEY: You know I was born LDS. Like I said I go back generations. I went to BYU, did a mission, and it's really in my blood. It's like being Jewish. It's not something you can walk away from and say I'm not Mormon anymore. So even though I don'tt attend church, it's part of my heritage.
SHAUNA LAKE: You have a reverence for the religion. Is that fair to say?
PAT BAGLEY: Oh sure absolutely.
SHAUNA LAKE: But you do write tongue and cheek cartoons about the religion too.
PAT BAGLEY: Well you don't deal with the sacred stuff, but you can deal with the cultural stuff. And some people have a hard time distinguishing between the two. I mean there are those who think somehow green Jell-O is somehow sacred, right?
SHAUNA LAKE: Right.
PAT BAGLEY: But to me it's fair game.
SHAUNA LAKE: What are some of your hobbies that you do outside of this craft?
PAT BAGLEY: Well I garden, camping and hiking in Southern Utah, I can.
SHAUNA LAKE: You can?
PAT BAGLEY: I grow my own vegetables and can them.
SHAUNA LAKE: You were raised Mormon weren't you? You're still canning.
PAT BAGLEY: It's in my blood like I said.
SHAUNA LAKE: It's in your blood, yes. And you have two boys?
PAT BAGLEY: Two boys.
SHAUNA LAKE: And what was the experience like of being a father for you? How did that refine you as a person?
PAT BAGLEY: I thought I would make a bad dad.
SHAUNA LAKE: Why?
PAT BAGLEY: Just because I didn't know the whole kid thing and how I'd do with that, but as soon as Miles was born, my oldest, it was life changing¦life altering. And I went from wondering whether I was going to be able to do this to becoming a doting father, and I'm very much involved in their lives.
SHAUNA LAKE: Has that been the highlight of your life?
PAT BAGLEY: Yes. I'd say that being a father defines me. So does cartooning but definitely being a father and having the two boys, it stretches you, and it's not always easy, but I think it's been good for me.
SHAUNA LAKE: Thank you so much Pat. It's so nice to get to know you better Person 2 Person.
PAT BAGLEY: Yeah, good to meet you.
-Written and Produced by Leslie Tillotson
(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)