January 2008

1 January 2008

Dear Mr. Kreider,

It is now nearly 3am 1 Jan 2008 in Amsterdam. Drunkish, so that's about the time to write and thank you 3 or so months after you've given me a great gift. As an expatriate, I would like to mention that earlier this year I was experiencing an alarming degree of not-nearly-earned-enough self pity (and more-deserved sense of homesickness) before coming across your work on your site over the past few months.

I, of course, am talking about not just the fantastic artwork, but the essays (in particular the Kliban and eyes wide shut essays) which made me write you to thank you. I spent three years in Balto and fondly remember your citypaper comics. However, to cruise through them all online was almost too much pleasure--I had to ration it into 2 nights, but wished I'd dragged it out further.

However, I did not know about this writing stuff and really encourage that. Your Kliban essay really, really did it for me. Consider me now your fan forever. I also thank you for reminding me how much I like generally being American. The mawkish sentence or two prior aside, it really is important for me as an expatriate to have touchstones of non-suckitude so thanks.

As a generous artist who's also written the best (and only) essay on Kliban, you're welcome at my place if you ever find yourself in Amsterdam.

Please keep spreading the word on Kliban's non-Cat stuff.

Fijne nieuw jaar!!

Brendan O'Connor


Greetings from New York City, 9:30 A.M., good old Eastern Standard Time.

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy drinking schedule to write and let me know how much my work's meant to you. Drawing those cartoons often feels like beaming messages out into space, not knowing whether the aliens even exist. It's especially gratifying to hear that my work makes you pleased to be an American. I wish the semiliterates who write in to accuse me of tearing the country down could understand this. But this is hardly the most important thing they don't understand.

Nice to know the Kliban essay is still being read. It really gripes my gut how little known he is today. He was one of our great artists, far better not only than a lot of other, more generally admired cartoonists, but better than a lot of our revered fine artists, like the creatively sterile huckster whose life's work, such as it was, is currently taking up the whole of the Guggenheim. Plus he may well have been, at the time, the funniest fucking person alive. Like my cartoons, that essay was a futile effort to restore a little justice and sane perspective to the world. You can see how much good it did.

If I'm ever over there, I will take you up on that free drink. I really should compile some sort of database to remind me where in the world and from whom I have free drinks coming.


Dear Tim,

Agreed and I think you've done some good to right some of the spiritual imbalance regarding Kliban with your essay. I was very pleased to find it. It really is an injustice how little appreciated he is. I blame the Cat too. Its popularity drags kitchifies the Kliban brand, categorizes him as a known artifact to the popular mind.

Personally, I would not know him it all if it weren't for my own early teen curiosity in picking through my grandmother's estate. She was wonderful while alive, but I grew to love her more when I found her trove of Jules Pfiefer, Oliphant, and Kliban books. I learned more about american history from these books--and how formidable a person my sweet old grandmother was from the fact that she collected these.

As you recommend, it was best that I "found" him. That is why it's so important to me and why your essay's epilogue really spoke to me: Leave Kliban around for the kids to find. Forcing an appreciation really will not work. As an artist, you probably must know this more than most, I guess the mind recoils at being told to appreciate something (but god knows I've tried it with Kliban). I guess you have to let the apes come to the obelisk of their own accord.

I truly appreciate your response and am surprised you did considering how earnest these sorts of missives come across-not my usual epistolary tone. But I guess you are getting some pretty earnest hate mail too. They are losers.

As an expatriate, feeling far away and having liberal inclinations as I have, one is torn with the normal and natural antipathy towards the peculiar Bushite blend of imperialism and provincialism that America can represent and the fact that you ARE an American and do not want your country ragged upon roundly. A knife's edge, but I was serious in what I said that reading you reminded me of what I love about being American. Your work is wonderful, and I had been meaning to write you for some time how cruising through your pages helped me get through some major homesickness and helped reassure me that the homeland is secure.

A chicagoan, I went to Balto for lawschool (vampire training) and then to NYC in 2004 to work. I loved Baltimore, liked NYC a lot but now have ended up in Amsterdam almost a year due to loving a dutch girl I met in DC. Drink is always on, so make sure to keep me on the database if you make it here.

In NYC, in the diamond district on E 48th street, is Gotham Books. I want to make sure you've been there as one of the owners was a trustee of the Edward Gorey estate and they've got a great collection of original Gorey drawings and memorabilia upstairs. If you like that sort of thing (and you really should) it's really worth the trip.


I truly regret to bring you this news, but I've learned that the Gotham Book Mart closed in fall of 2006. Perhaps this severs your one remaining sentimental tie to this country.

Your drink offer remains on file.



2 January 2008

Just a funny comment--

Bhutto actually wasn't hot. I know some pakistani's and they said she was known as "hijra" in Pakistan-- hijra's are the caste in India/Pakistan that are men that dress like women (sometimes per they've become eunuchs); My Indian friend said the same thing-- she looks like a man. Now, I didn't think she looked THAT bad, I thought it was interesting to watch from one photo to the next, as her appearance would shift-- sometimes she had a double-chin and looked 50 years old, then in another she'd look 35, wearing the latest gucci glasses. It's image management by handlers, common to all high-profile people, I think.


Alex Rediger
Accounts Receivable


I passed on the information about Bhutto to my friend Boyd, a connoisseur of hotness. It saddened him, like learning that yet another photo of the Loch Ness Monster is a fake. Bhutto may have been no Yulia Tymoshenko--rowr!--but you have to admit that compared, to, say, Hillary Clinton, who's the hottest thing close to a world leader we've got, she was a honey. But your point about image handlers is well taken. Hilary looks better now than she did in college, something that can be said of very few women in their fifties.

Nice to see readers taking an interest in the current events that affect all our lives.



4 January 2008

Subject heading: “raccoon coat”

Dude, you've gotta get a big floppy felt hat with a plume, and a chain. Then you'd look just like an R Crumb character, which is appropriate since your depictions of yourself remind me of Crumb at his most morbid. Pity you can't snap yourself out of it by the convenient entry of big hipped woman in tight shorts. Still, i'd love to see a picture of you and your buddies trucking.

Apologies for this absurdly late reply to your letter. Since Ms. C.-H. absconded for Europe I have failed to keep on top of administrative duties at the Pain offices.

Thanks for your compliments on my fantastickal new raccoon coat! It is, indeed a thing of splendor. Yours is not the first intimation of pimpery to be made in connection with this coat. A few weeks ago I attended the birthday celebration of a friend at a Lower East Side club, resplendent in The Coat, and afterward he told me that no fewer than four (4!) women, on learning that he knew me, exclaimed, "I just assumed he was a pimp and I totally wanted him to pimp me out!" I have made some inquiries in this area but it seems the whole profession is more complicated and difficult and fraught with hazards than I'd at first imagined, and basically just not for me.

As for R. Crumb, his tastes in women differ from my own--though we are both, to be sure, ass men of the highest order.


Tim Kreider


4 January 2008


Rudy Giuliani seems to be hinting that he'd want Dick Cheney involved in his administration. I'm a Canadian and that gives me fucking nightmares man. I mean can you imagine? These two bald old men, each permanently wearing what Shelly describes as [a] "frown And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command". Two paranoid violent secretive fascists at the helm of the nation. At least with Bush you kind of get the sense he's not smart enough to realize what he's dooing, being the idiot man child he is. Cheney kills small animals for fun, Rudy's only joy seems to be cheating on his current spouse. On the plus side, if they do get elected, we may see the first gay couple in the White House as these two loathsome souls finally realize that they are the only ones on earth who could ever truly understand each other. Oh, and the biblical apocalypse.

Keep up the good work Tim.

Alex Martin,

To call Dick Cheney a "partner" in this administration seems a little disingenuous, to say the least, kind of like calling Edgar Bergen Charlie McCarthy's "partner." And Giuliani's Lincoln analogy sounds pretty defensive and inappropriate since his eagerness to find a running mate "who really knows what he's doing" on board seems to suggest that he realizes, on some level, that he himself wouldn't.

Happily this all seems moot at this point since so far Giuliani is placing consistently just above Grand Moff Tarkin in the primaries.



6 January 2008

Anyhow I am shocked -- SHOCKED, I say -- that Yulia Tymoshenko, the prime minister of the Ukraine, did not make your They Hate The Hot comic. She's gorgeous.

Yore fan,

Jesse Irwin
Chicago, IL

Jesse Irwin:

Just last night forwarded Yulia Tymoshenko's image to my friend Boyd, who likes to keep up-to-date on such matters. All I can say in my own defense is, I had no idea. Who would've thought there could be any world leader so hot? Why can't we have a hot president? If only Mary McDonnell would run. Why not? She may be no Yulia Tymoshenko, but, like Reagan, she plays a President on TV.

Anyway, thanks very much for this important information. Her hotness is indisputable, but is anyone trying to kill her? Surely Putin must be.



8 January 2008

Dear Sir or Madam,

Yesterday I was in my local safeway waiting in the check-out line when I saw the most recent Time magazine which features Vladimir Putin as their pick of person of the year. "That's an odd thing to call him" I thought to myself, and so I picked up the issue interested to read their justification for such a claim. When I got to the interview, there is a large photo of him seated, nigh king-like, looking down at us with his unblinking eyes. And I thought to myself "By thor's hammer, I've seen that pose before!"

I could not resist putting paint to page, and before I knew it I had given the emperor new clothes. I sent a picture of it to my brother, and he said "Tim Kreider did this like a million years ago you plagiarizing faggot." And I remembered you had, so I send this to you with apologies for unoriginality, but here's hoping you get a kick out of it anyway.


-Rob Randolph

Robert Randolph:

Thanks for acknowledging my precedence in this regard. I am impressed and very pleased by your own more elaborate portrait of Putin as the Lord of Latveria. I hope you will send a copy of this to TIME as a letter-to-the-editor in response to their making von Doom their Man of the Year.



9 January 2008

Game Show Host President


Your “Artist’s Statement” is my second-most anticipated Wednesday event, followed only by your cartoon. (Work comes in a distant third, and I like my work!)

In your latest, you lamented how the primary winners would be the man closest to a game show host. Just a few nights ago, a woman interviewed by NPR told why she backed Romney: “He looks the most presidential, sounds the most presidential.” Nothing about his stand on any issues, nothing about how he’ll help make the nation the way she wants it. Ugh, the triumph of image over substance continues; but never so blatantly, so succinctly. She even got his first name wrong.

On another note, I loved your portrayal of the future representatives of dynasty. Chelsea’s light touch (and her mom’s hair, since hair on a candidate is so important) contrasted with the hard-edged Jenna. You captured the meanness almost necessary in a Republican candidate.

Keep up the outstanding work!

David Strobel

David Strobel,

Your anecdote about the Romney supporter depresses me, almost as much as Matt Taibbi's accounts of audience members parroting verbatim talking points from stump speeches they've just heard as though they were their own original thoughts. But to despise this is to despise humanity and this, although valid, is not a healthy attitude for me to cultivate.

Thanks for noticing my efforts at depicting the future candidates. I only wish I'd had more time to draw the aged and bloated Jenna. It would not surprise me one bit if that boozy little skank ran for the Presidency. If her illiterate cokehead dad could do it, twice, why not? Life has taught her that a lazy shithead can accomplish absolutely anything, including single-handedly totalling his whole nation, with enough money and the right connections.


9 January 2008

Ms. Phelætia,

If you could forward this along to Tim I'd appreciate it.


I share your sentiments regarding the political climate in America, which is one of the reasons why I left the country. I now live in the countryside of northern england. I'm an artist as well, and I'm only dropping you this note to let you know that I check the site regularly, and as an artist recognize your drawing skills as top shelf. Keep up the good work. If you're ever in northern england, look me up, your first pint's on me.


Matthew Hickey


Alas, Ms. C.-H. has returned to Europe and I am reduced to the indignity of answering my own mail.

Thanks for your kind words about my work. It's always especially gratifying to have a fellow artist notice my draftsmanship, since I squander such a lot of time on the drawing and get less money and recognition than people who clearly whip out their strips in fifteen minutes or use clip art. But the race goes not to the swiftest, right?

I like your own work very much--more moody and evocative than the usual noonday-light photorealism. Do you work from photos? I ask because your painting seems to incorporate lens flare and other artifacts of photography.

I don't know why I don't leave the country. I guess because all my friends are here. If I could take them all with me I'd move to a Greek island.



9 January 2008

Dear Tim,

Thanks for the well-wishes, I hope you have had a chance to bring order out of chaos in your workplace.

I am once again heartened, despite your most curmudgeonly efforts, by your charming example of 'maitri' in the form of the first panel of this week's cartoon. Though I'm sure some of your sympathy for Hillary comes from thinking maybe she's a little hot, I also note that part of you wants to give her the Presidency... just because she wants it. What a refreshingly compassionate attitude, unlike some close relatives of mine (for all that I love Austin, I do still live in Texas) who thinks she should NOT have it for that very same reason. It's a wonderful, kind-hearted sentiment.

Perhaps she does need to have it, to learn that lesson about how desire is suffering, rather like how when you are a kid you have to try the baker's chocolate, and even though your mom tells you there's *no* sugar in it, you still want to try it- and regret it. Every kid goes through it. And I bet every ex-president views trying to run the country *exactly the same way.* Oh well, enough with the foodie talk. I hope you are well, and enjoying the increasing light of the season. I do look forward to your visit to Austin, and the offer does still stand.




Indeed, you make an insightful point--the office of the Presidency may well be the only punishment terrible enough to teach people deluded and hubristic enough to actually seek it. A true Monkey's Paw. Though I get the sense that, despite the unimaginable mortification Bill Clinton endured at the hands of the Republicans, he'd still run for a third and fourth term if anyone would let him. Some people are incurable.

I am not so compassionate that I actually hope Hilary wins the nomination. I just didn't want to see her utterly humiliated. But of course I'd rather she or Al Sharpton or Fozzie Bear won the election than another Republican. Anyone still calling themselves a Republican after the last eight years ought to be publicly stripped and scourged. If the people of this country elect another Republican in 2008 they're like a guy who accidentally shoots himself in the face three times. You have to start to wonder whether maybe on some level he doesn't want to die.



10 January 2008

In the latest "The Pain" Artist's Statement, there is a sentence which reads: "The last eight years have taken a lot out of on anyone who cares about this country".

While I agree that these years have both taken a lot out of and on us, I suspect that you meant to use only one of those prepositions.

Hello from a fellow JHU alum ('94), by the way.
--Kevin Z.

Kevin Z.,

Noted and corrected.

Go Blue Jays,

Tim ('88)

I forgot to mention it before, but I also ended up taking bites out of a raw onion in the early 90's (at a party in a Chas. Village rowhouse, in my case.) Perhaps that too is a Hopkins thing.


Kevin Z.

Kevin Z.,

Well, that's certainly odd. Maybe we should make an effort to talk this onion thing up and tell people that it was considered really cool at our college, and it's actually incredibly fun, and convince them to try it at parties, and then, when it's awful, look puzzled and shrug and say, "Huh. I guess it must be a Hopkins thing."

Go Blue Jays!,



10 January 2008

Heyo. First of all. you are awesome. Anyone affiliated with Tim in any way is awesome.

Second of all. I started reading this strip at the tender age of twelve. My devout-democrat parents were laughing their respective asses off over something on the laptop. I asked what, and what was I to see but "Science Vs. Norse Mythology" Since I was one of the few children of that age who had any sort of political knowledge, I got most of the jokes and found them all quite funny. I'm fourteen now, and a complete smartass, thanks in no small part to you and your friends. I'm now cultivating a small army of smartasses to aid in world domination.

Thirdly of all. You have fucked up my life in the greatest way possible.

Fourthly of all (Last one. Promise) Keep up the great work, until the secret police bust through your door.

Caio, regardless of how it's spelled.



I very nearly deleted your email, mistaking it for spam based on the uncommunicative one-word subject heading and suspicious name containing both "dix" and "cash," terms that turn up with some frequency in spam. I am glad I gave it the benefit of a doubt, since yours is among the few most gratifying messages I have ever received. There can be no more meaningful positive reinforcement for any artist than to know that he is permanently warping the minds of the impressionable young. When I was your age, in pre-internet times, the most subversive influences I had access to were MAD magazine and the cartoons of B. Kliban. (Although probably neither of them was as essentially formative of my political philosophy as M*A*S*H, which is not a terribly funny TV show compared to, say, The Simpsons, but can you imagine an antiwar comedy being the #1 rated show in America these days?)

The secret police take many forms, and in our country they have subtler methods than their crude, thuggish counterparts abroad. Their cruelest and most devastatingly effective technique is simply to ignore the target utterly, forever. (Come to think of it there's an episode of M*A*S*H kind of like this, where Hawkeye goes bats awaiting a revenge prank from his pal B.J. that never comes. This will be the last reference to M*A*S*H in this letter.) Support like yours helps me to keep up my resistance.

It heartens me to know that you and your friends are forming the vanguard of a new generation of godless and degenerate America-haters. If I were a more ambitious person I'd try to mold you into my own personal elite corps of fanatical bodyguard/assassins and start giving you orders to carry out guerilla attacks on the status quo, but instead I'll just wish you guys the very best of luck in your quest for world domination. This is historically a dodgy enterprise that tends to go badly even for the best-intentioned, but you couldn't possibly do any worse than the twerps currently running things. If nothing else, at least you're keeping up the numbers on our side.
Kerrick, if you'll send me your mailing address I'll send you a little something. Tell your parents I promise will not show up with my cat asking to sleep on the couch.

Tim Kreider


22 January 2008

Two questions:

1) What's up with this 'project disclosure'? I googled it and all I got were references to some UFO stuff, which doesn't seem to fit the context you were using.
2) Now that Ms. Hautpanz is gone, when are you going to get your own email address?

Still-attempting-to-keep-a-stiff-upper-lip-as-the-nation-goes-down-the- fucking-toilet,

T.S. McBride

Thomas McBride:

1) That's the Project Disclosure I was referring to. It is the character Jim's batshit conspiracy theory that 9/11 was staged to divert public attention from the far darker secret of u.f.o.s.

2) I do have my own Pain account but it got flooded with spam for penis enlargement and Viagra months ago. I'm using Ms. C.-H.'s until Webmaster Dave can set up another one for me.

Good luck with the upper lip in the toilet.



23 January 2008

To The Estimable Mr. Kreider, Esq., and incidentally The Countess Czochula-Hautpanz,

In your latest "Artist's Statement" (which I look forward to reading every week, as they are consistently articulate, cogent, and engrossing), you mentioned that you had refrained from using the premise of "Bullshit Most Important Issue for 2008 Voters", lamenting that The Onion had already used the idea. I am greatly impressed by your artistic integrity under the weight of an inexorably advancing deadline. Therefore I was shocked to find (after following your link to the Onion and poking around a bit) that they had in fact plagarized one of your own works in this graphic:


I of course instantly recognized the titular "Onan The Barbarian" as it is one of my favorites among your drawings. I've often imagined driving along the Los Angeles freeway and seeing it plastered on a roadside billboard 50-foot tall in all its savage majesty. I know of few things which would make me happier. There are also few things I find more sexually confusing. I am shocked that a publication I admire so much as The Onion would wrong you in this way, and can only hope that I am unaware of an agreement or compensation that has occurred between yourself and the Party In Question.

Warmest wishes,

Petty Officer Third Class Daniel Melia, United States Navy
< '))><{ <'))><{ }><(('> <'))><{ <'))><{

Dan Melia,

I just saw the Onan thing this morning. Doubtless your email is the first of several bringing this to my attention. Instead of the paranoid suspicion and rage I would've experienced a few years ago I felt only a glum acceptance that yes, indeed, this is how it is, the world sucks. I don't know whether they stole it or not; maybe some ideas are just floating around out there, too good to pass up. In any event I don't expect I'll be seeing any acknowledgment or compensation.

Billboards are for rent, you know, so you have my permission to reproduce "Onan the Barbarian" fifty feet high off the highway of your choice and make your dream come true, if you can afford it. Though I suppose there are probably some boring stodgy laws prohibiting the public display of artwork depicting some dude mightily ejaculating.

Thanks for your generous compliments on my work and writing.


p.s. Is the string of symbols at the bottom of your email some sort of emoticon representation of semaphore signals?


The symbols at the bottom of my mailings are my emoticon fish – four swimming along with the current, with one nonconformist minnow struggling against the tide. Thank you for your gracious permission to reproduce your work. Perhaps one day I will amass the cash and political clout to fulfill my dream, and Onan will stand proud and tall in his climactic glory. In the meantime, I am happy to enjoy my weekly dose of Pain.



23 January 2008

I am a long-time reader and wanted to thank you for your endorsement of the cloistered dweebs such as myself taking an interest in understanding the universe. I also love space, but actually study how the brain controls behavior.

Incidentally, both this recent statement and you "SHERBET SHERBET BURVIL PENNSACOLA" comment from last year have made it into my collection of quotations.


James Murray:

I love scientists. Contra the cartoon stereotype, they're some of the only sane people out there.

I actually knew a boy named Burvil years ago, when I was a teacher. Oh, Burvil, Burvil, Burvil.



23 January 2008

Jesus fuck that Galactus panel must have taken forever.

Keep up the hard work.

Matthew Sullivan:

Yes. It is rather a lot of work, especially for the money I'm paid, so readers noticing is about all the reward I get.




24 January 2008

Mr. Kreider,

I was perusing your website and came across one of my favorites. "Remember When...?" (March 12, 2003).

I read the following commentary on the panel:

" That simpering, sneering, puling, loathesome little monkeyfaced millionaire's son who seems beadily determined to drag the entire country back to the recession and the Gulf War, to say fuck you to the international agreements that have kept the world more or less from collapsing for the last fifty years. "

Determined? Looks like he succeeded.

Sucks to be right, doesn't it?


Steven F. Scharff
Henderson, Nevada

Steven Scharff:

On the other hand, if I were an optimist, I'd be wrong all the time. There are trade-offs. I will vanish below the rising sea level with a smile of smug validation on my face.



25 January 2008


I'm just writing to say that this last comic is awesome (as if you didn't know). There's just something about the Dark Matter ominous-being picture. At the risk of sounding artsy and pretentious, it's just a wonderful composition. I've loved quite a number of your other comics (me being an I-can-has-sanity-kthxbye political junkie), so it's kinda weird that this is the one that prompts me to write in, but, well, there you have it.

You rock.



Why thanks for noticing, and for your kind words. It is particularly surprising to be complimented on my composition, since it is by far the least thought-out, most accidental aspect of my work. For the record, the "ominous being" you refer to is one Galactus, a very large man in purple armored shorts and a giant crazy headdress who ate planets in Marvel Comics. (I was a reader as a kid.) Glad to know you enjoy the political stuff, too, though I am unfamiliar with the "I-can-has-sanity-kthxbye" genus of political junkie. Hope you manage to can have your sanity kthxbye after Super Tuesday.

I shall endeavor to rock on.



30 January 2008

In re 1/30's comic, or the artist's statement attached thereunto:


Should make everything that's happening crystalline. Still not 100% clear on how a bunch of $600 checks will address the problem, but hey, at least come July I'll be able to afford a sack of the *good* drugs.
K. Signal Eingang

K. Signal:

Thanks for referring me to this clip. It was both amusing and grimly instructive. I suppose this is why economics is so opaque and boring--because if people actually understood what was happening they might be lynching their brokers from lampposts on Wall Street.



31 January 2008

Hi there, can you ask Tim if it's possible to get a picture of Mr. Fockerman from yesterday's comic that isn't obscured by the snot guard? It's priceless.




In fact I drew Mr. F. at the last minute on a separate piece of paper because I wasn't sure whether he'd prove to be too weird and out of left field to include, and had to Photoshop him in, and was sorry to find no way to avoid having his face bisected by the snotguard. Here he is in all his glory, presented in a printable tif format suitable for display in home kitchen or office. Glad you appreciate him.

By the way, it's "Fuckerman."