I'm a huge fan of both indie comics and indie journalism, so I was thrilled to see Pulitzer-nominated cartoonist Ted Rall start a Kickstarter project last month to fund his return to Afghanistan. I may not always agree with his politics, but I've found his long-form foreign reporting to be unique and thought-provoking.
He graciously agreed to an interview over Skype, which we posted late last week as the second episode of the Kickstarter Podcast. I thought it came out well, though I clearly still need to work on my audio mixing skillz (sounds better on headphones!) and perfecting my NPR voice.
Rall's a controversial figure, especially reviled among political conservatives, even though he's leveled some of his toughest criticisms at the Obama administration. While most attention's focused on his syndicated cartoons, he's also written six non-fiction books, half of those focused on his travels across the 'Stans -- Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. In 2002, he published To Afghanistan and Back, a mix of written dispatches, cartoons, and a graphic novella documenting his experiences on the ground during the U.S. invasion after 9/11.
All of Ted Rall's previous trips were funded by news organizations, but with budgets for foreign correspondents slashed, he's turned to his fans to fund his return trip. We talk about the changing media landscape, his previous books, and what it's like being a NYC cartoonist in one of the most dangerous places on Earth.