The letters that came from these men and women were direct, honest, and amazingly personal. I don't know when I have been so moved. It is not possible to imagine how painful it is to be persecuted and reviled because you are different. These letters were evidence of that.
As the mail arrived, my assistant and I sorted the letters into boxes marked "Yes", "No" and "Articles" (we had many, many newspaper clippings!). Altogether, over 2,500 personal letters were counted, and, of these responses, over 70 percent were positive.
All of these letters were answered. All of them were read with respect and interest.
I recently turned these "boxes of emotion" to the sociology department of our local university, where they are proving to be an intimate and invaluable insight into this side of our human nature.
I learned a great deal when we ran the Lawrence story. I learned that the comics page is a powerful communicator. I learned that people read our work and care about what we say. We all look forward every day to that one page in the paper where the small truths lie, hoping for a laugh, or a little sarcasm, or a punch line that will ease the burden just a bit. I learned that our work is taken seriously, and despite the reduction in numbers and size, the comics matter a great deal. Those of us who produce these panels have a responsibility to ourselves, our syndicates, our publishers, and our audience to use this space with conscience and with care.
I believe I did that with this story.
I believe it made a difference.
My syndicate and many editors allowed me to take a risk... and yes, without question, it was the right thing to do!
The complete series of "Lawrence's Story" is available in There Goes My Baby!"1 2 3 4 5