Where Are They Now: Don Bousquet

The cartoonist talks "kohog" and the key to success.
Don Bousquet
Interview has been edited and condensed.

No one knows quahogs better than Don Bousquet, whose cartoons have illustrated Rhode Islanders’ obsessions with big hair, weird pronunciations and clam culture for more than thirty years. Bousquet was featured in RIM’s story about our infatuation with vanity plates back in 1988; when we caught up with him, we asked about the photo, and what’s up with that spelling of “kohog”? 

RIM: And while we’re at it, what happened to the plate?

DB: It was necessity, the regular spelling was already taken, so I told the DMV give me the one in the photo. I had it on my Honda Accord special from 1983 to 2006. Now I have a ’97 Mustang convertible, just like new.

RIM: Sounds like you’re a bit of a motor head.

DB: I used to draw cartoons during the week and work on antique cars on weekends. When I was in my forties, the only people I had to hang out with weekdays were retired people with antique cars.

RIM: You were a full-time cartoonist, gracing the pages of magazines, books, as well as commercial work until you retired in 2014. What’s the key to success?

DB: If you don’t make yourself happy, that’s the hard part. I get to do it for fun now. It’s a hard job, plus after thirty-one years I don’t want to repeat myself.

RIM: What comes first: the image, the joke or both together? 

DB: You open up a vein and bleed, that’s mostly what happens. I remember every cartoon. I’ve got them all on file, thousands of them. You put so much effort in one cartoon, you don’t forget it.