LA Sketchbook: Paul Conrad

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Steve Greenberg draws his tribute to his cartooning inspiration. Funeral services for Conrad are Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at St. John Fisher Catholic Church in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Also: Former L.A. Times staff writer Deborah Schoch remembers when Conrad began sitting at the Times' South Bay office.

Pulitzers aside, Paul Conrad was a bright light and a mentor for his younger colleagues. When he formally left the LA Times in the early 90s, he moved into a modest office in the old Times South Bay bureau on Hawthorne Boulevard in Torrance, near his PV home. He needed journalists around him as he worked, he explained.

He still raged against injustice and skewered the powerful....

Continued after the jump.

He still raged against injustice and skewered the powerful. Yet we came to know a gentler Paul Conrad. He kept the office door open. Young suburban reporter--far down the Times food chain-- would wander in to watch him draw and get his take on the social issues of the day. He listened to their own stories. Sometimes, in the afternoons, he would test a cartoon by quietly approaching a reporter or two and slipping the draft over our cubicle walls. If it didn't evoke the reaction he sought, he might even return to his office for some fine tuning.

Conrad opening blasted Times-Mirror cost-cutting. When "Cereal Killer" Mark Willes shut down New York Newsday in 1995, he was outraged and dashed off a cartoon of a shattered mirror under the NY Newsday banner. I can't recall if it was rejected by his editors--it certainly never ran--but he let us fax it to our NY Newsday colleagues.

When the South Bay bureau was closed abruptly, its editorial staff laid off or transferred, Conrad and his wife threw us a goodbye party at their home.

His passion for democracy and good journalism was downright contagious. We were honored to know him.


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