Randy Wicks, 1995. Photo: Kevin Karzin/The Signal. Click to enlarge.
Randy Wicks has been the editorial cartoonist for The Signal, the Santa Clarita Valley's daily newspaper, since 1980.
During that time, he has won 17 state and national awards and has earned a reputation as a no-holds-barred observer of politics, world events and human nature. Wicks, 41, tells it like it is. He and his three sisters were raised on their parents' family farm near Belmond, Iowa. He moved to Santa Clarita to attend California Institute of the Arts in 1976. He graduated from CalArts in 1980, and soon thereafter became the full-time cartoonist for the local paper in his adopted hometown.
Wicks is a self-described "information junkie" who reads three newspapers per day. In his spare time, he roots for his beloved Chicago Cubs — a pastime that he describes as "foolish."
Wicks, who most admires his parents, always strives to give readers an honest interpretation of events in the world and in Santa Clarita.
"I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't say the emperor has no clothes, because a lot of times his heinie is hanging out," says Wicks. "Whether readers agree or disagree with me, it's not that important. As long as I make them think."
By Tim Whyte, Managing Editor
I'd better be careful here. I wouldn't want to say the wrong thing about Randy Wicks, because I've seen what the man can do with a pen.
He is, indeed, the Wicked Wicks of the West.
He's lampooned the best and the worst of them, from local politicians all the way up to the president of the United States. Heck, he even drew a caricature of God.
The man has no fear. And, as a journalist, that's perhaps his most endearing quality. Through his cartoons, Wicks speaks his mind — as it says on the New York Times masthead, "Without fear or favor."
His cartoons are sometimes good for a belly laugh, or a smirk or even a cringe and sigh of relief that it's not you who is the target of the day. Other days, Wicks will make a poignant statement that brings a tear to your eye.
It's an emotional roller coaster, let me tell you. And I'm proud to have known and worked with Wicks for the past half-dozen or so years. His take-no-prisoners approach to cartooning notwithstanding, he's a kind soul who cares deeply for those around him. He sticks to his principles, liberal as they are relative to Santa Clarita, the valley of Republicans. He has the intellectual stamina to read three newspapers per day, and as a result of this remarkable feat, he knows everything. If a reporter comes to me with a tough question about history or current events, I'll invariably look thoughtfully at the ceiling until enough time has passed so it appears as if I've given deep thought to the question, then I'll say, "I don't know. Ask Wicks."
I have to admit, I still feel a bit of celebrity shock when I run into Wicks at the office. When he first started at The Signal, I was in eighth grade at Arroyo Seco Junior High School. I'd already heard of Wicks through my grandfather, who worked in the dormitory at California Institute of the Arts, where Wicks was studying animation. Wicks and Grandpa worked together one summer, and Randy credits Grandpa with teaching him how to clean toilets.
A valuable and humbling lesson in life, don't you think?
Soon after graduating from CalArts, Wicks became The Signal's full-time cartoonist after cajoling then-editor/publisher/owner Scott Newhall into giving him a try.
The rest is history. Wicks became one of the best-known names in Santa Clarita.
Wicks, 41, recently celebrated his 15th anniversary as The Signal's resident poison pen. During that time, he's won 17 state and national awards and aggravated more than a few politicians. And get this: He's gone 15 years without taking a single sick day.
Cal Ripken Jr., eat your heart out.
So there you have it. He's out there every day. Watching. Waiting. And, most importantly, thinking.
I know you'll enjoy this collection of Wicks' work. We're serving it up in three parts. First, we'll take a look at "Wicks' World," a compendium of Wicks' commentary about national, international and even celestial issues. He makes some perceptive observations about society and how it's changing. We live in a world where kids tote guns, sports franchises know no loyalty, yuppies pervade rock concerts and millions of people could use a helping hand. Through it all, Wicks consistently reminds us of our instinct for survival, and the fact that we need to take care of this little blue planet we call home.
Then, in Part 2, Wicks Goes Local — a collection of Wicks' best pokes, caresses and jabs at the Santa Clarita Valley, which Wicks, an Iowa native, has adopted as his second home. And finally, we take a look back at some of Wicks' Blasts from the Past — sort of an all-time greatest hits from The Wicked One himself.
It may make you laugh, or cry, or kick your cat in misdirected anger. But one thing's for sure: Randy Wicks' cartoons are guaranteed to make you think.
Just stay on his good side.
Tim Whyte, Managing Editor
Santa Clarita, Calif.
Sept. 24, 1995
Randy Wicks arrived in Santa Clarita from his hometown of Belmond, Iowa, in 1976. His passion for artistic expression in journalism drew him to California Institute of the Arts, where he graduated in 1980. He was originally hired by Scott and Ruth Newhall and served for 16 years as The Signal's editorial cartoonist.
Wicks' cartoons were also nationally syndicated. He received 19 national and regional awards during his career.
Randy's illustrations reflect how deeply he cared for life, fellow humans and our community. He valued libraries and education, donating his talents and time to local schools and charitable organizations.
The thousands of original drawings that constitute the Randy Wicks Cartoon Collection are owned and controlled by the Wicks family (The Signal had "first publication" rights) and are administered by Kiza Hilton, who provided a first-generation copy of the collection for display on SCVHistory.com.