Could you say something funny — and different — about the plastics industry every week for a quarter century?
For the past 25 years, Rich Williams has been a fixture in the Plastics News staff box, and on our editorial page. Rich “speaks” to our readers in his editorial cartoons that accompany our Viewpoint columns. But he's never had the chance to really talk about his work, until now.
Editor Don Loepp talked to Rich about his work for our 25th anniversary issue.
Q: How did you get your start as an editorial cartoonist?
Williams: When you hang at the table long enough, someone tosses you a scrap. As a freshman in college, I poked around the Ohio University Post until they offered me a shot at their political cartoons. That work led to a full time cartoonist job at American Greetings Corp. in Cleveland. I was grateful, but still found myself spending an occasional lunch hour at the Cleveland Plain Dealer to shoot the breeze with the older editorial cartoonists there. When one of them got wind that Crain Communications was starting Crain's Cleveland Business and looking for a freelance cartoonist, he threw me that bone. That gig led to this one at Plastics News, and I've been doing it ever since.
Q: You've been with Plastics News since the first issue in 1989. How did you get the gig?
Williams: Lowell “Chris” Chrisman, former publisher at Crain's Cleveland Business, left to start Plastics News and along with Bob Grace invited me aboard. My thanks to them.
Q: At the time, what did you think about doing editorial cartoons for a plastics trade newspaper?
Williams: I never hesitated at the opportunity, and saw it as another pro-business platform for my work. Plastics wasn't necessarily in my wheelhouse at the time, and definitely a challenge. I saw it as a test. If I could make high density polyethylene, thermoplastic elastomers and blow molding funny, my powers would be limitless.
Q: Other than Plastics News, where else do our readers see your work?
Williams: Crain's Cleveland Business and various greeting card racks throughout the fruited plain.
Q: You often capture the industry's sentiments about important issues. We see your work in PowerPoint presentations and on plastics company bulletin boards all the time. How does that feel?