Marshall Ramsey signs copies of his new book at Kademi during last week’s Third Thursday event.
Marshall Ramsey signs copies of his new book at Kademi during last week’s Third Thursday event.
The latest edition in Marshall Ramsey’s collection of ‘toons and tales paints a vibrant picture of Mississippi, America and one of the Clarion Ledger’s most beloved resident cartoonists.

Ramsey was at Kademi in Philadelphia last week to sign copies of his latest book, “Drawing the Line.”

The Georgia native grew up in Marietta and graduated with honors from the University of Tennessee. After spending many years away from the South, Ramsey arrived at the Clarion Ledger on Dec. 16, 1996, as a Californian returning home.

He said on returning, “It’s nice to be back in the briar patch.”

While in the briar patch, Ramsey has authored several successful books and been featured in numerous notable newspapers across the country.

“Moving to Mississippi from San Diego didn’t make much sense on paper but has turned out to be a blessing,” Ramsey tweeted on Dec. 16. “I’ve had a rewarding career.”

And rewarding it has been for the two-time Pulitzer Finalist and New York Times featured cartoonist.

His cartoons encapsulate life in the South, and his goal is to make someone laugh everyday.

“Drawing the Line” celebrates the 20th anniversary of his first cartoon in Mississippi.

“It’s been 10 years since I’ve written a book,” Ramsey said. “I started digging through and I found the most popular cartoons, like Katrina and 9-11. Then I found ones that I remember stories about, and I sat down for 17 hours straight and wrote the back story for each cartoon.”

Out of all the cartoons in “Drawing the Line” his favorite is from two days after 9-11. A plethora of American citizens’ faces constitute the head of a bald eagle, and the caption under it reads “United we stand.”

When Ramsey first moved to Mississippi, he just wanted to be a great cartoonist. Now, his three boys have changed his mission.

“I want the state to be the best it can be so they can live here and have the same opportunities I’ve had,” he said.

He described his job as a dream come true.

“When you get to do something you’ve wanted to do since you were eight, it’s a dream come true,” Ramsey said. “I’ve worked with some incredible talented and gifted people which is what has been amazing at the end of the day.”

Over two decades, his cartoons have divided, brought people together, made someone laugh, and made someone mad, but mostly, they’ve made Mississippi think.

“If I can make someone laugh or mad, that’s great,” he said. “What I try to do on a daily basis is get someone to think about what’s going on in the news. I want people to think about the issues that are affecting us in Mississippi.”

Laughingly, Ramsey revealed that during his time at The Clarion-Ledger he has learned that he can come up with a cartoon idea no matter the pressure.

Ramsey has enjoyed traveling Mississippi and promoting his book.  His tour brought him to Philadelphia last Thursday.

“You can’t understand Mississippi driving from your house to your office,” he said. “ Whether it’s Philadelphia, the Coast or the Delta, traveling makes you feel like you get to know the state that much better.”

And Neshoba County is a frequent stop for him. A  Neshoba County Fairgoer, Ramsey has done cartoons about the political speaking events at the Fair and has many good friends, like Sid Salter and Dan Turner, Neshoba County natives.

Kademi co-owner Dawn Lea Chalmers said they were always “happy to host Marshall. He is so much fun. His humor and outlook on life are inspiring!”

Ramsey hopes there is going to be another book in his collection, but right now he plans to sit back and think about what’s next.

The father of three has learned a lot from his profession of choice, but the most important two is that people in Mississippi love cartoons and that this is a pretty fascinating, wonderful place to live. Ramsey wears many hats as a father, cartoonist, cancer survivor, and Mississippian, among many more, but what drives him is he wants the best for his kids like everyone else in this state.

“If I can do something to make this state a little better or make someone laugh, I feel like I’ve done my job,” he said.

Then he’s certainly done his job and done it well for 20 years.