By Kevin Allman, via bestofneworleans.com
“Without its curious and diverse denizens, New Orleans would just be a swampy environment with poor drainage and too many mosquitoes.” — Bunny Matthews
Bunny Matthews, who created the quintessential comic-strip Yats “Vic and Nat’ly” in 1982, announced today in a Facebook post that he is suffering from brain cancer.
Matthews, whose cartoons appeared in Gambit for years (along with every other local publication), has provoked, skewered and amused the New Orleans arts, music and media communities in cartoons and print since making his debut in the now-defunct Figaro in the 1970s. Two compilations of Vic and Nat’ly were published in the 1980s, featuring the flamboyant, buxom Nat’ly and greasy, cigarette-ash dripping Vic (whom Matthews said was modeled after former New Orleans Mayor Vic Schiro). In recent years, Matthews has created advertising campaigns for local businesses (including Vic and Nat’ly biting into a loaf of bread on the sides of Leidenheimer Bread trucks).
Last year, his exhibit at Arthur Roger Gallery, The People of New Orleans from A to Z, was a success; Gambit art critic Eric Bookhardt noted it was drawn in Matthews’ “traditional post-psychedelic baroque caricature style.”
In a definitive 2002 Gambit cover story about Matthews, written by Scott Jordan, Matthews said:
“One of my big role models would be Pete Fountain. I’d like to be like him when I’m old. You know, where everybody likes you even if they really don’t know you.”
It’s a somewhat contradictory statement from a man who has built a large part of his career on drawing, writing and saying what he wants, consequences be damned. Asked about the dichotomy, Matthews is silent for a moment, and stares off into his backyard. “I guess we all want to be popular,” he says. “I feel like I’ve always been on the outside. I’ve never been this person that hung out with all the guys out drinking or anything.
“Even when I was a kid in bands, I was always kind of a pain, because you can be creative, but you have three other people you have to deal with, and that’s difficult. If you’re alone, you don’t have to compromise.”
Matthews’ Facebook statement:
This is very hard to do…to admit…to write…
But I have brain cancer…
I didn’t know but now I know so that is good.
I knew something was wrong with me. I could feel something was wrong.
There is so much to say but I have no idea about the future. I am home at last but I have to be very quiet.
I am very loopy from drugs.
I see all sides of everything. I see everything is good and great.
I love everyone. There is no reason to be hateful or envious. Excuse me—but I’m always on the verge of crying.
Money is not important. Coolness is not important. Being the first is not important.
Love is important.
Shooting other people, shooting up drugs—that is very unimportant.
I sound like Jesus but that is the way.
No one at the hospital really cared who I was—what color or race or creed I was. They were only concerned with my health. That’s the way life should be. We shouldn’t be concerned with what others “are.”
Before I forget, I think I have the best neurosurgeon on the planet—Dr. Justin Owen. He is cocky and cynical like me. Dr. Owen tells the truth.There are many kinds of cancer. There is no cure for cancer because every cancer is unique. It all depends on many factors.
I am very tired. Sorry.
I had the best doctors, the best nurses, the best food.
I thank everyone for their wishes of recovery.
I will try to “tag” people in this photograph so you can share the information.
I have the best family and friends and wife who ever existed. I could type more but I am different so I will sign off for now. I will be back.
Remember: LOVE is the only thing that really matters.