September 2007

3 September 2008

Dear Ms C-H,

I just wanted to convey my sympathies to Mr. Krieder and let him know that when I read this week's statement my tears welled up...and I was at work.  Thankfully it was 4:30 a.m. and no one was in my office, so I was able to avoid having to explain that I was crying because a cartoonist I've never met wrote about the passing of another man I've never met.  I just want to let him know this.




I'm sorry it's taken me this long to reply to your touching message. It's nice to know you were so moved by my words. John was a good friend, and a man I think you would've liked. But I'm sure you were really thinking of the people you love, the ones you'd miss if you lost them. I hope that if nothing else I reminded you to spend more time with them while you can.

 I do have one question for you, though: what are doing at work at 4:30 A.M.? Unless you are embezzling funds or downloading porn there is no excuse for this. Get your ass home and into bed with someone you love. Or at least an excellent cat.

It's nice to hear from you again.



5 September 2008

(I write this to Ms. Hautpanz's email, though I am not sure that she screens Mr. Kreider's email anymore.  I will however, address this email to Tim.  I don't expect much in the way of a response either.)

I must admit, in all honesty, that I had dismissed AI as a "bad movie" for lack of an ability to interpret it, a long time ago.  However your review really was depressing yet interesting at the same time.  It certainly makes a lot of sense out of those books I was required to read like Glengarry Glen Ross and Death of  Salesman.  And I suspect that one could draw connections with Catcher in the Rye , a book that only served to further my sense of adolescent confusion and lack of a "place."

All that said, your review certainly has lead me to contemplate disturbing things that I've only been vaguely aware of.  Am I anything like David in the movie?  I have, as any human seems to have, a host of doubts that I've been pushing down in order to go through the motions of living.  I also wonder, does having a love for knowledge or truth (however you're supposed to define them) constitute a similar mechanical drive as hollow as seeking to fulfill a hunger for romantic love?

I suppose I would like a "magical romance," but a part of me was always instinctually cynical about girls or relationships.  Girls are only people after all, not mystical creatures.  Many students my age, and younger, don't seem to realize this consciously.  They'll chase a girl on Facebook or MySpace that meets some sort of fictional ideal, chasing after an image in their heads, only to meet with crushing disappointment and stumble over to me as friendly drunks.  Ironically, I suspect said girls-only suffer these types of guys because they stroke their ego.  (I suppose much the same could be said about me having a "cause," I generally don't believe in them.)

Makes me wonder how many embittered misogynists are created from this type of obsession with symbolic women.

I also noted your advice that anger, while intoxicating, is quite a destructive force in a person's spiritual life.  Sadly, I think I've already stepped down that path to the point of no-return.  I have a temper and I know it.  I rail against things even when words and reasoning won't change them.  Sometimes I feel markedly different from other people because of this?  I am at a loss to describe what this malaise is.

In any case, I follow your comic The Pain, with interest.  Even if you feel like a hack with a few of your drawings, I can't help but derive some empathy with your anger.



First of all, let me apologize for the delay in my reply. As you know if you've been reading the cartoon, life has been complicated lately.

I am flattered that you found my essay on A.I. worthy of such serious thought. But let me backpedal a little and clarify that the rather bleak, deterministic, Freudian worldview I was articulating in that essay is only the one I believe is expressed by that particular work of art. But no work of art, except maybe The Big Lebowski, can ever encompass the whole truth about the human condition. It's really not clear how much is inalterably "hardwired" into human beings. We do have extremely resilient, redundant, and versatile brains with the capacity to rewire themselves. In other words, we can change. Not that we do, much. People can (and do) spend their whole lives attracted to the same types, looking for surrogate parents, making the same mistakes and reenacting the same old traumas and contriving to bring the same disasters upon themselves over and over (me included). But we are more or less conscious beings, and some of us are perceptive and truthful enough to see these patterns in our own lives and try to get out of them (me not necessarily included). But who knows? Maybe this is just another illusion we have to convince ourselves of in order to get through the days and proceed as though we had free will. Even if so, I am all for it. It is, after all, the only game in town.

I don't think that regarding women as real people rather than ideals disqualifies you from having romantic relationships; on the contrary, I think itŐs a prerequisite for having any kind of real relationship. Don't worry about the magic; it eventually afflicts everyone whether they want it to or not, and then later the piteous weeping. YouŐre probably right that most people's relationships are based on illusion, and this is one reason they don't last. My old dance instructor used to say that "Love is a state in which a man sees things most decidedly as they are not." It must be said that he didn't have a lot of luck with the ladies and is not 100% to be trusted on this particular subject. I'm not exactly an expert, either.

Being angry about things you can't control seems to me less like some rare pathology than the common lot of human beings. If you have a temper, well, you have it, and you're probably stuck with it (though it's likely to mellow with age--testosterone is a terrible drug, like being on PCP for decades). What you can control is how you react to it. Which also isn't easy, and not nearly as much fun as punching people in the face. I struggle with this still. Just try to stay out of jail.  This is one of my modest goals in life and I would suggest it is a good one for you to strive for as well. In any case I think it's too fatalistic and self-defeating to imagine that you are too old to back off from that path and find your way back to civilization.

As for the will to truth, my old dance instructor used to say: "Here the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for the peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of the truth, then inquire." For him, I think, the relentless badgering after truth arose, paradoxically, out of the moral impulse, the same drive that produces both the spooky and kindly lies of religion. He collapsed after throwing his arms around a horse that was being flogged and ended up a catatonic husk but, again, I'm not sure this discredits his advice. I hope that dementia is not the inevitable consequence of inquiry.

You sound like a smart and thoughtful and troubled guy, Chris--and I don't mean "troubled" in the euphemistic clinical sense but honestly and rightly troubled by the conundrums, double-binds and bullshit of being alive and conscious in this world. Your smarts and thoughtfulness will get you some way toward getting through it all. Just don't overthink yourself into paralysis, or get so lost inside your own head that you neglect your feelings. (Again, my old dance instructor: "Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings; always darker, emptier, simpler.") I mention these things only because they are the particular occupational hazards of the smart (me espeically).

Speaking of which, please politely overlook the Mr. Smartypants tone of this note and see if you can't find something useful in it. I hope you will. Let me make clear, if it isn't clear enough already, that I'm not writing you as a Wise Mentor but as just another confused screwed-up person on the planet who's trying to figure out even one thing before I die. I won't promise you you'll be all right, because, truly, no one can promise that to anyone else. I can tell you that art helps a little. Meditation is supposed to help, though I'm lazy about it. Drugs and alcohol don't actually help as much as they seem to at first, but if you're smarter than I am you won't need to be told this. Other people help most of all.

I wish you well. Write any time.



8 September 2007

One remark in your latest artist's statement struck me, when you were talking about your discussions with your late Christian friend that you dedicated your last cartoon to:

"He considered it a minor victory to get me to admit that we don't know why the universe is here."

The point is, we do know that the Universe cannot be there for any reason if we simply define it as everything there is.  The logic behind it is quite simple:

       Why does everything there is exist?  Answer: Because. Everything there is cannot be caused by anything outside itself since it is everything there is, so logically there is nothing left that could have caused it.  Everything there is cannot have a reason.  It isn't that there might be a reason and that we do not know what the reason might be.  We DO KNOW that there CAN BE NO REASON for everything there is.

And if we don't define the Universe as everything there is then all bets are off, as we could start squabbling about just what we'd consider to be part of the Universe and what we do notÉ

So apparently none of the two of you have ever thought this through to its final conclusion.  No offense.

My condolences about your loss.  Maybe it would be comforting to you to know that you can use similar logic to prove that none of us can ever die, no matter what we do, and that your friend is still alive in many places in phase space, where he's either miserable or happy, depending on circumstances mostly beyond his control.


I transmitted by relay your explanation to Mr. Kreider but then he furrowed his face and regards it as a luxuriant sophism that abjectly requests the question. Is the cause and the effect only one illusion of human interpretation, or a phenomenon which breaks up and does not exist at the beginning of the universe, like electromagnetism? He is not buying it. It is not very clear why the whole something should exist rather than not, and this reasoning is not to solve the central mystery of the existence for him. Nor do your arguments concerning death make him wish for the acceleration of his own.

Nevertheless let us thank you for the writing with your thoughts and sympathy.



P.S. Mr. Kreider affixes the following play of spirit: "Notification there is no 'P' in it. Please to help us to keep this way!" It is apparently an hilarity common in America, opaque with me.


13 September 2007

Firstly, before I launch into the obligatory anti-anti-gun tirade, I must say that I absolutely adore Mr. Kreider's cartoons. He's given me many a cynical laugh.

And now, on with the tirade.

Yes, the Gun Industry as an entity is an asshole. Yes, some foaming-at-the-mouth, second-amendment nutjobs are *complete* assholes, and should probably be tranq'ed for everyone's mutual safety. *HOWEVER*, there are a small number of people - sane, sensible, and usually extremely cautious - who both own guns and are not assholes.

I'd like to count myself as one of that number.

I do own a gun [replica blackpowder squirrel rifle, in case you're interested] and tend to view the discipline in much the same way as one would view learning to handle a longbow. One that's fun for historical recreations, or just for the discipline of it... but not for waving around in random places or using to hurt people because they called you names.

In the 50's [God, how many times has a gun nut used this one?] there was a firearm in every home. Kids used to get BB guns for Christmas. The key thing, for that era, was that the kids were taught not to point them at people. Elementary safety was drilled into them from the moment they could understand it. Alas, those days have gone, and we have a culture that is both terrified of, and glorifies, the gun.

It's become the ultimate solution to problems. Shitty working environment? "Shoot them all and let God sort them out!" ...gah... Personally, I'm more amenable to *thinking* first, but that's not a philosophy that America, as an entity, is all that fond of. [America, taken as a whole, likes sheeple that go along with everything the government says and don't think for themselves. This doesn't mean individual *Americans* do that themselves... but I digress...]

There is, however, one question that absolutely nobody in the Media - or, for that matter, a large body of the viewing populace - ever asks. That question is, "Did they legally obtain and/or own that gun?"

As far as I can recall, there has been exactly one incident in my lifetime [34 years] that that answer has been 'yes'. Once, in howeverthehellmany shootings that have been in the news in my lifetime. Pretty amazing statistic, that one.

And yet, every time someone goes crazy with an illegal firearm, the people want more 'control', more laws for the law-abiding, whilst they forget completely about the already-lawless.

But hey - Mr. Kreider probably lives for this kind of stuff. Maybe there's a cartoon or three in there. Just thought I'd try to make my voice heard.

Thankyou for your time,

Catherine Allan

Sane gun nut.

Catherine Allan:

We firstly thank you for your compliments on Mr. Kreider's work. Always it means much to have news of the readers.

Mr. Kreider certainly does not fear the enthusiast of history with the blasting powder to shoot squirrels. Only the squirrel needs to fear it. But it must to admit that the guns are not exactly an activity of history like manufacture of soiled glass or drawing the cartoon-strips, yes? Moreover, few Americans seem to clean them for history reasons. They have them for contemporary reasons such as hatred of the federal government and the fear of the negro.

It is to be certain that the majority of the crimes are with the illegal guns. However, it would not be more difficult to obtain the illegal guns if all such weapons were illegal? But I learned that it is useless to engage in discussion on this subject. The Americans are a nation of barbarians, they always had guns to exterminate buffalo and the pigeon of passenger and the Indian, they will always have the guns, it is their response to all, just as you say, their hearts are seized by fear.

I thank you for your pensive words and regret my comments ungracious on this country which was my host centre. But it is hateful to see the American children killed and the paid lawyers of the businesses of guns insist on the fact that all is well, all is well, all is well.



13 September 2007

[Subject heading: [Great rant!]

That was one of the funniest things I have ever read.  America has taken it's toll on you.  Gravy....melted animal byproduct.

However your painful journey has born sweet fruit.....sweet funny fruit.

Good luck in your quest for civilization.

And welcome back Mr. K, even under bad circumstances.

Eli Friedmann:

I thank you for your complimetns on my efforts with filling the place of Mr. Kreider with my maladroit prose. It is good that you are amused by my account of American sauce-with-the-juice. O that there had been more real, nonfigurative, fruit on my travel. At least the goodwill came from it.




13 September 2007

Normally, I would irregularly write directly to Tim.  Today, it occurred to me that amongst other things to be grateful for outside of his immense talent, is his collection of friends and associates.  Your writing brings me great joy.

Thanks for your efforts.

My invitation to Tim to visit Kansas goes unanswered, but it is as expected!

Best wishes.

Tom Ragatz of the Parrot Totem:

I tardily thank you for your commending of my efforts in the name of Mr. Kreider.

I believe that you write with Mr. Kreider at an address extinct, the hated AOL.

No matter what arrives it is little probable with him to visit Kansas, which I regret saying.



20 September 2007

Dear Mr Kreider,

A short (and I hope not wildly weird and insulting) note to say that I was very touched by your last cartoon on your friend's death. 
My condolences on this occasion.

This seems really weird to be writing to a total stranger (even if I've been following "The Pain" for years now) on another continent, on such a personal subject, and I hope you don't think I'm a maniac (really I'm not !) for doing so.

Again, my condolences et mes meilleurs voeux de courage pour les temps ˆ venir.

Best wishes


PS : I do have a sort of real question : why have you chosen to have to call the "Artist's statement" rather than have it appear directly on the same page ? I enjoy them both equally, and feel the one doesn't go without the other...

Again best wishes from a fan in France.



Your kind message was not inappropriate at all; on the contrary, it's gratifying to know that my very personal, in-joky testament to my late friend touched someone on the other side of the world.

As for the artist's statements, I was at first, and still am, ambivalent about including them at all. I call them "artist's statements" as a kind of nervous, tongue-in-cheek reference to the Artist's Statements printed on pamphlets or plaques that accompany shows in galleries or museums. Reading these little fantasias of bulllshit invariably reminds you why the author is a painter or sculptor and not a writer. I believe strongly that artists ought to do their work and then shut up and get out of the way. My colleague Megan recently received a letter from a reader who'd very much enjoyed the story she recently concluded in the New York Times Magazine ("Watergate Sue" but wanted to know "what the aprupt, enigmatic last panel meant." Megan declined to explain her ending, not out of artsy cussedness but because any explanation would only diminish the reader's appreciation of the story, solve it like a puzzle instead of letting it linger troublingly in her mind. As Stanley Kubrick, who got a lot of this sort of thing, always put it, imagine if Leonardo had told us that the Mona Lisa is smiling because she's hiding a secret from her lover. An enigma that's beguiled the centuries would be definiteively answered, finished and dead, like a butterfly pinned to an index card. Like the artist Robert Smithson said, "Establish enigmas, not explanations." Which is what I strive to do with provocative and challenging works such as "Cuckold!' and "Graveyard Shift at the Pussy Juice Factory."

However, I am by temperament a long-winded ranter, raconteur, and wackjob theorist--which is to say, a frustrated writer--and regrettably I cannot resist the opportunity to use my website as a soapbox every week. I do try to avoid ever explicated my cartoons and confine myself instead to tangential rants about politics or, on occasion, personal reflections. Anyway, to answer, at unnecessary length, your question, I keep the artist's statements at a click's remove out of consideration for to those readers who would rather not have their art expplained, clarified, or expanded upon in any way. Which is not to say I don't appreciate your compliments of my prose.

Thanks for writing, and may you, too, keep courage in the times to come--or, as we say in America,  "Don't let the bastards get you down."


Tim Kreider


21 September 2007

I've only seen Waminals strips in black and white. 

I'm considering making some bootleg Waminals for personal use (throw pillows, etc).  What color are they?

Anton Markwart:

I have consulted Mr. K about this provocative question. He mushes the face of thought and then made the following declaration: Some are purple with the spots pink. Others, pink with the spots purple. However, W_______s themselves are unmindful of this distinction and there is no discrimination among them.

The tails are coloured tail. Perhaps to use the real tails of the squirrel?

Mrs. C. - H.

P.S. We ask with respect of the photographs of finished Cushions of W_______s.


21 September 2007

Dear Mr. Kreider,

It's Graveyard Shift at the Pussyjuice Factory.

Emma Eshleman:

It is rare that Mr. K. must be found with a loss for words. And still Mr. K. and I both are returned without voice by this thing. What must be made of the ageing bald person in the foreground who feels his hand, unconscious with nudity writhing behind? But they would be only the Germans who would conceive of a so repulsive project.

We thank you for bringing this to our attention, although it is untrue to say that we are grateful.




26 September 2007

Dear Madam:

Please inform Mr. Kreeder that his comic this week was excellent.  However, regarding his Artist's Statement: the large, mehcanized vehicles depicted in panel 2 ("We're Never Leaving Iraq") in fact resemble the AT-ST walker more then the AT-AT. 

The AT-AT walker was the huge, plodding, 4-legged vehicle employed by the Empire at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back, while the AT-ST was the medium-sized, 2-legged, slightly-more-agile vehicle used to attack the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi.  The American forces in panel 2 seem a lot more like the latter.

All the best.


Washington, DC

Phil Pierson:

Mr. Kreider tries to obtain exactitude in such details. Although he fears to hear of the errors from the experts in all fields, more than all he fears is to receive the complaints of the experts of the imaginary.

Mr. K requests to know what the "S" represents. I myself tire of such things.



You may inform Mr. Kreider that AT-ST stands for "All-Terrain Scout Transport."

Also, if I ever become rich, I'm going to commission him to do my stained-glass windows.  But he shouldn't hold his breath.


30 September 2007

So, I was going through the archive and came across this:[Mr. Kreider's cartoon "My Slogan"] and it made me wonder, with that completely accurate prediction, does Mr. Kreider also happen to have the winning numbers to next week's Powerball Lottery?

 -Paul Bagosy

NOTE FROM MS. C.-H.: Although Mr. Kreider voluntarily transmitted the numbers of the "Ball of Power" to the reader they do not have to be divided with the readership general. But it is debatable since alas, they proved vague.