Leon Worden

Politics aside, Randy Wicks' opinion counted

Leon Worden · August 7, 1996

Every morning when I wake up, I stare Randy Wicks in the face.

Well, not Randy exactly, but his cartoons. I am lucky enough to have had him sign a few for me over the years, and they hang over my kitchen table next to my signed Conrads and some political cartoons from the 1800s.

It's funny how everything that goes around, comes back again. One of my lithos from the 1800s could easily be titled "NAFTA." Another could be called "Congressional pork barrel spending." The faces and the clothing may have changed by the time Randy drew them, but the subjects were identical.

That's a story for another day.

It doesn't really matter how well you knew the guy with the one-word moniker. If you knew his art, you knew him. Like Cher or Madonna, anyone with the gumption to stand up and admit he was "Wicks" needed no further introduction. When I slug back that first cup of coffee and fire up that first cigarette of the morning, I am greeted with the gentle wit, the brilliant simplicity, of the man called Wicks.

I just wish to God we had had more time to become friends. Sure, we brushed into each other often and talked a million times since he first started drawing editorial cartoons at The Signal's old offices on 6th Street. But I never took the time to make Randy a close confidante, and for that I am truly sorry.

If you can say Randy is -- was -- a close friend, you are fortunate indeed.

What I can say is that I respected him. Those are not empty words. When you write a political column for the paper, you learn not to take others' opinions too personally. You learn to blow things off.

You don't blow off Randy Wicks.

I always cared what Randy thought about me. Not about politics -- we often stood on opposite sides of political fences, and he even signed my copy of his book "From a donkey to an elephant." No. I cared what Randy thought about ME.

Maybe it was because Randy was real. Maybe it was because I saw in Randy something that I coveted for myself. Maybe it was because Randy was pure in heart, clear in thought: in short, a better man than I.

But maybe it's more personal than that. Maybe Randy's opinion mattered because he knew all the stories about me, some true, some not, from my younger, stupider days. I wanted Randy to like me for the man I am now. Randy was the rare individual to whom I wanted, one day, to prove myself.

I knew that if the day ever came when Randy respected me as much as I respect him, then finally, the demons would be slain and the past would be past.

Now that day will have to wait.

Illustrations courtesy of
Sylvia L. Oliande

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Leon Worden is a Santa Clarita resident. His commentary appears on Wednesdays.

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