June 2008

1 June 2008


I always enjoy your work. However, reading this week's commentary, I couldn't help but feel that you were making some dangerous assumptions, and also doing the same kind of stereotyping you denounce.

To wit:

Not everyone who lives in the Midwest or South is a bigot.

Not all racists are poor.

Not all racists are stupid.

Look at James Watson. Look, if only poor, ignorant, can't-pay-bills-or-child-support crackers were still racists, racism wouldn't matter any more. It's institutionalized racism among the wealthy and powerful that perpetuates racial disparities in this country.

~Nesta Johnson

Nesta Johnson,

I can't disagree with any of your points, and wouldn't argue with your more important conclusion that the most insidious and worrisome kind of racism is the subtler, less vulgar institutional racism among the wealthy and powerful. But national elections are one of the last places where the grassroots bigotry of the underclass still makes itself heard, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to vent a little. I had to live among those dirtbags for about fifteen years and listen to them talk about The Niggers in bars and diners, so there is some personal venom being expressed here. Unfortunately I don't choose my subjects based so much on what is truly important as on what happens to get under my skin.

Tim Kreider


2 June 2008

...thanks, Tim, for soldiering on with the comic. I really appreciate your intelligent and soulful artist's statements. Whether it's about politics, relationships or scum, you always hit the nail on the head and articulate points I wish we'd see more of.

In thanks, I've sent along a donation. If you don't already have a copy of Carl Sagan's Cosmos series, I'd very highly recommend picking one up with the proceeds. On days where the world looks especially stupid or bleak, I turn to Carl and he makes me feel hopeful. That or a nice bottle of Scotch...

Best regards,


I'm a fan of Carl Sagan's from way back. I read the companion book to Cosmos as a kid and it started me on the road to skepticism and agnosticism, as well as a lifelong layman's love of science.

Scotch is good stuff too, though. It's an invaluable supplement to life as a skeptic and agnostic. It's kind of a toss-up.



3 June 2008

Dude, a lot of american jews are in the Reform camp, but even they would
know not to put cheese on a palastinian baby. Some mild horseradish, or
maybe brown mustard and a pickle on the side, sure. But cheese will get the
candidate denounced by the board of rabbis.

I am so tired of this new right wing Democratic Party that Bill Clinton and
the DLC have given us. Yeah i want to win. But i want to win with some
policies that actually are liberal rather than just being called liberal.

And i'm sad to see Obama succumbing to the corrosion.

I think it would be worth losing if we could have a candidate who stand up
and actually come out for real positive values, someone who would say there
will be no profiling, no global surveillience, no twilight zone where
neither the Bill of Rights nor the Geneva Convention are operational, no
pandering to the corporations, no shrinking from extending help for fear of
being called a socialist, etc etc. At least people would be clear on what
they were rejecting, and maybe reconsider next time.


Hey, I'm with you. I think more people would respect a Democrat who said what he actuallly believed and didn't hedge or backpedal or cleave to some imagined center. I disagree with the Republicans about absolutely everything, but at least I know they actually stand for something--unabashed Evil.

I know, I know the Palestinian baby is not kosher and I knew someone would call me on it. Belive it or not, I gave this some thought. I considered saying "with mustard" but "cheese" is inherently a funnier word, don't you agree?



4 June 2008

Dear Mr. Krieder (please excuse me, if i misspelled),

I was inspired to write by the following excerpt from your commentary:

" I am once again reminded that my own work is but an inept imitation of the much more talented artists I admired as a child. Do all artists feel like this? Did Raphael secretly feel like nothing but a third-rate Leonardo?"

If it helps at all: from what I have read, nearly all great artists have compared themselves to their predecessors, usually unfavorably. However, while I regret to inform you of this, judging by what i have seen of your work (limited to your web-comic The Pain), your work is not that of an "artist," but, strictly speaking, that of a "caricaturist."

This is not meant to belittle you. Indeed, I hold you in the highest regard, ranking you with the likes of Thomas Nast and George Cruikshank. I have been a lifelong fan of astute political parody, especially when rendered in comic form.

Moreover, I share with you a fairly dim view of the intelligence of our nation's people, as well as hope for our nation's future. Let us both pray (for whatever that's worth) that that view is dim as in "un-enlightened," rather than seeing the darkness we both expect.

I look forward to your weekly web-comic nearly religiously, and often find great comfort in how you are able to able to extract the sublime (even if sublimely ridiculous) nature of our current socio-political reality.

No response is necessary to this note, however I would welcome a dialogue with you (I am not usually this pedantic). Also, as I live in Pennsylvania, it does not seem impossible to me that a personal meeting might be arranged in the future (please be assured that while I am a gay man; I am not now, nor have any intention of ever, hitting-on you). I admire your creativity and your intelligence, and I believe I could be a decent drinking partner for you.

In any event, I am,

Yours Truly,
-- K. Puck Willits

K. Puck Willits,

Not sure whether to take your vow never to hit on me as respectful deference or a sort of insult. Like, what? I'm not hot enough to hit on? In any event, I doubt we'll become drinking buddies until we can agree to broaden the definition of "artist" to include whatever it is I do. Cartoonists are as a group insecure and very very touchy.

At any rate, it is some consolation that all artists, even the giants to whose greatness none of us even bother aspiring, have secretly looked upon themselves as second-rate imitators. (It takes a long time to realize that there aren't any grownups, that no one's minding the store.) And thanks for your kind words about my work; some weeks, knowing that people out there are looking forward to my cartoon is about all that gets me to do it.

Tim Kreider


6 June 2008

First of all, let me say I'm a big fan, and want you to know that even in Denmark your comic is appreciated.

Found this article earlier, title pretty much tells the story.


Sincerly Omar


10 June 2008

Dear Tim Kreider,

You may have noticed my greatly praising your talent and plugging your site and books many times on the Comics Journal message board. I could go on at length about how much your cartoons and splendid accompanying "Artist's Statements" mean to me, especially during these years when the human race seems determined to plumb deeper depths of madness and idiocy, but for now want to "get down to business."

I want to donate to aid your continued cartooning. Have never gotten into using PayPal, and if it's OK with you, would just prefer to mail you a check*. (It'd put me in the "Sugar Daddy" donor level, if you're wondering.)

If, again, it's all right with you, would sending it payable and addressed to Tim Kreider, at

P.O. Box 422
Charlestown, MD

...work out?

Thank you,
Mike Hunter

Mike Hunter,

I thank you for praising my work to others, but I made a pact with colleague Megan Kelso years ago about never ever looking at the Comics Journal Message Board again, and the penalties for transgressons are truly dreadful, so I haven't seen any of your kind words personally.

I am keeping the P.O. Box in Charlestown for just such occasions (and to prevent readers from physically locating me). Thanks very much for your anticipated contribution.

Tim Kreider


11 June 2008


OK, so a bunch of overly sensitive imbeciles are at it again re the Obama's
Royale with Cheese thing. I guess I should've expected that, but what puzzles
me is why a group called Jews Against Obama would give two shits if he ate an
actual Palestinian baby or not. Yea verily, if anything, they'd WANT him to do
it. I mean, do they think he is Jewish? Is that why the hue and cry about
eating meat wqith dairy? I can understand the Arab Enabler types wanting to
protest, sure. But they wouldn't care about the so-called Blood Libel or not,
except that they'd believe it was so.

So what to do, kemosabe? My title here lends a clue; it comes from an episode
of Law & Order: Criminal Intent featuring the Great Vince D'Onofrio. That
particular ep focused on a Helmut Newton-esque photgrapher who is later killed.
He says at the eps start: "This is what you say to critics: Art demands no

I dunno....half the damn time I think these people who whine like dogs about
the smallest and most unintended of offenses are just screaming idiots madly in
love with the sound of their own voices and hateful of everything else. I know
if it were me, here would be my response:


Thank you for your recent comments re (name of strip here). I printed out your
email and used it to wipe my ass, as I thought this the best use of your sage
advice. Do please make more criticsms, as they will meet the same fate and I
may save some cash not buying toilet paper.

Balh blah blah.
/foolish comments

Sorry. There's been a big snafu re my stimulus check and I'm kinda acting out
just now. Not to worry, I'll be making my donation soon as it does get in.



The letter-writer was mad that I would even suggest that Jews might be pleased to see a Palestinian baby eaten, and went on to say that there were no such things as Palestinians.

My actul reply, for publication, to the Jews Against Obama guy:

The regrettable historical resonance was inadvertent; infantophagy as satiric trope goes back at least to Swift. I did not intend to imply that Jews eat, have ever eaten, or would advocate the eating of infants of any nationality, and certainly not by candidates of either major political party. I publicly and unequivocally urge Senator Barack Obama not to eat a Palestinian baby; my cartoon was for parodic purposes only, and the PR costs of such an electoral gambit among human rights, children's advocacy, and vegetarian organizations would undoubtably outweigh the benefits.

I would also like to formally apologize for depicting Obama eating the Palestinian baby with cheese. The mixing of meat and dairy products is not kosher, as I well know from my patronage of Jewish delis. If I had the chance to do it over, I would draw the sandwich with mustard, and maybe a pickle on the side.

I think a donation to me is an excellent use for your economic-stimulus check. Oh, I'll stimulate the economy, my friend.


11 June 200

I was reading the statement following June 11th's update and found a poignant nostalgia in the comment of that childhood game "Smear the Queer". Though I am of a younger generation than Mr. Kreider (Not meant to be gloating - I already feel old and cynical having seen just what 8 bitter years gave the world), when I was in Middle school from 2000 to 2002, I witnessed and participated in that very same game. It had been rather remarkable to have witnessed in those teenage years (Currently 19 years old) the transition of acceptance, however flighty, towards homosexuality. That in Middle School faggot and gay were thrown around as common, primary synonyms for negative or bad, yet I could see gay, even flamboyantly gay individuals be treated with much more acceptance in the later years of Highschool. The continued use of such derogatory terms I think stems less from actual bigotry than it does the colloquial need for some derogatory insult - much as we still use the term cocksucker or motherfucker, despite it's impact being less that you fuck mothers or suck penises and more that you are simply seen as less than shit in the person's eyes.

What is tragic is to realize that following some tipping point of acceptance towards gays and lesbians, then it will be the transsexual's turn to have to climb a steep uphill battle for acceptance.

Cody Beaton,

I have to tell you it is slightly weird to be written to by someone who was in middle school in 2000, a year which seems like recent memory to me. But it is boring to listen to old people tell you how fast the time goes, I know.
I am heartened to hear that you've seen acceptance of gays grow even in your lifetime (although of course in elementary/middle school no one has any real overt sexuality yet anyway). I'm also, I have to admit, heartened to hear that the use of the associated slang terms continues even after they've been dissociated from their specific pejorative meanings. I don't know, maybe they don't seem so dissociated for gay people. (I once earned a gay friend-of-friends's eternal hostility just by mentioning that I'd used to play "Smear the Queer." I mean it's not like I named the fucking game.) But I'd hate to lose the irreplaceable term "faggy" (like, doting on my cat doesn't make me gay--it's makes me faggy) or humor like the "You know how I know you're gay?" game in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." I remember I once ran one of my cartoons by a gay friend to ask whether he thought it might offend homosexuals and he answered, "No self-respecting fag wouldn't think that was funny."

Yeah, the trannies have got a tough row to hoe. Maybe they'll be able to ride the gays' coattails some distance? I'm good friend withy someone who was, for a while at least, the most famous transsexual in America: Jenny Boylan, author of "She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders" and "I'm Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted." Her situation is about as cushy as can be imagined--employed at a liberal New england college, married to an understanding, supportive (which is not to say 100% thrilled) woman. But even her best friends--especially her best friends--were deeply freaked out by her announcement that she was going to become a woman, way more freaked than they would've been had he merely come out of the closet. I'm used to it now, but I don't know that it'll ever quite seem normal to me. Our whole sense of gender goes much deeper than our sense of someone's sexuality.

The bad news is there'll always be someone to marginalize and mock and oppress. The good news is the circle of those accepted as human and equal is constantly growing, and the bigots and conservatives are always going to be fighting a losing battle. We're never going to convince the people who believe that homosexuality is a sin or a pathology to accept it as a normal human variation--eventually they'll just all die, and no one will even understand what the debate was ever about.




12 June 2008

Suibject: "Don't Worry, Be Happy"

Now that I've triggered the tune of that 1990's shmaltzfest in your brain,
let me congratulate you on, apparently, finally gettins some. Good on ya!
I agree that human progress somehow continues despite what seem to be
powerful and deliberate efforts on the parts of thugs like Cheney and
weasels like Bush to stop it. When you consider that humanity EMERGED
from the Dark Ages, that we went from nuking two cities to landing on the
moon in less than 25 years, and that we have all but wiped out the twin
plagues of polio and smallpox that haunted humanity throughout its
history, then things do take on a rosier cast.

And for all the hand-wringing over the world's population, it may help to
point out that at some point soon we will have as many humans alive at the
same time as ever lived throughout all of human history. That doesn't
just mean Global Warming and Pollution and Bad Taste: it means that,
statistically, Aristotle and Plato and Lao Tzu and Jesus and Mohammed and
Mozart and Bach and Einstein are alive and with us right now. Or, at
least, humans whose genius and talents match those exceptional people from
the past. Of course, it also means that Hitler and Ghenghis Khan and Pol
Pot are out there too, but you gotta take the good with the bad I guess.

So yes, things may all work out in the end. But just remember Alberti's
Corollary to Murphy's Law:

Things only get better so that they can get that much worse later on.

Bob Alberti:

Not to renege on my tentative optimism, but your point reminds me of something Carl Sagan wrote in The Demon-Haunted World:

"At that time [of the Constitutional Congress] there were only about two and a half million citizens of the United States. Today there are about a hundred times more. So if there were ten people of the caliber of Thomas Jefferson then, there ought to be 10x100=1,000 Thomas Jeffersons today.

"Where are they?"

Tim Kreider


12 June 2008

The man who kisses things! I am happy when he shows up, just as I am happy whenever you draw wiggly people.

Keep up the great work!

Jesse Irwin
Chicago, IL

ps I heard that you are a little bunny rabbit.

pps ever read 'Scary Go Round'? Lovely stuff.

Jesse Irwin,

I am certainly not a bunny rabbit. Where did you hear this? Who is saying that I am a little bunny rabbit? Tell me who it is and I will get them. It is not true so do not say it!

Tim Kreider


12 June 2008

Dear Tim Krieder:

Two fans of yours are profoundly, breath-takingly high right now, and thought of you. Thought of you as the screen of this laptop becomes paisley and as my friend stares up at the ceiling insisting he’s still sober enough to write. I noticed that last week’s Artist Statement had a surge of goofy, trippy optimism that we are, of course, totally on board with right now.

We are also writing from the viewpoint not just of the high condescending to the sober, but of the Alaskans condescending to people in the states. We are tripping balls on a splendid porch-deck in the middle of a forest with a black and white cat and thought “Hey, Tim Krieder”. We really, really can’t hold our shit together, but this is a fan letter, and we love you.

Luke and Emma

PS: You have no idea how fucking tiny this cat is. O her precious feets.

Emma and Luke,

Remember writing me last night? No, you did not imagine it.

Yours is one of the more touching of the many fan letters I have received. It's good to know that last night in Alaska stoned people were thinking of me. I wish I could've been there with you on your porch in the woods. (I also wish I could've been high with you, but at age twenty-two. Alas, I cannot be high now, because it would only make me nervous and sad and remember that I Really Am a Loser After All.)

O, I have seen some tiny cats in my time. I once watched my friend Jim Fisher place my cat's whole tiny head in his mouth. That was fourteen years ago. The same cat is here with me now, but she is not so tiny anymore. Sometimes I wonder whether she still remembers being inside Jim's mouth.

Tim Kreider


13 June 2008

I like the cartoon very much, probably because I am very much the same, except
that I've never even denied being a bunny rabbit, so little am I one.

However, given your audience's cynical, may I say "viciously-minded and
preverted" nature, I'd advise you to put the first panel's "Sproioioioinngg"
somewhere less close to your lap. Honestly, I'm not joking; especially given
the girl's comment, it is very easy to Get the Wrong Idea, especially if you
never watched the Grinch cartoon much.


P.S.: Karen Abbott's "Sin and the Second City" is worth the read; it tells
what happened when two respectable madams tried to open a decent and
respectable "resort" in turn-of-the-twentieth Chicago.


My first reaction to your suggestion was, Oh come on. Then, on reflection, I though, hm, he might have something there. I have jiffied it up.

Maybe I'll read that after I work my way through my current book list. I have a friend who's a prostitute and am sympathetic to the plight of sex workers. My reaction to the suicide of the DC Madame was anger and disgust that the woman had been driven to kill herself under threat of imprisonment while all the wealthy and powerful politicos who used her service remain respected citizens and family men.

Tim Kreider


13 June 2008


I have been a devoted (in a non-creepy way) fan since your completely unexpected and unprecedented talk at an otherwise unremarkable NASA workshop in Houston (Outer Planets Mission workshop? I can't remember) back in 2001. If I ever attain a position with some real pull in NASA (not completely out of the realm of possibility), I intend to try to funnel some more work your way (or at least get you a free invitation to a launch or something). Meanwhile, I actually paid real money for your book (new, not used!). Yeah, I was the guy who bought that one on Amazon in '05.

I have tremendous sympathy for the hard path of an artist. Scientists are similarly unappreciated by society at large, but we have the undeniable advantage that some of the stuff we do can make other people wealthy (which is what it takes to get ahead in this great country). So I pull down what would be an obscene salary if the definition of obscene had not been stretched beyond recognition by CEOs, one that allows me to afford a house in LA. But all of my children took the less well-compensated path in life (two in classical music, one in environmental advocacy, one in snow boarding/whitewater rafting), so all of my discretionary income goes into subsidizing their as yet unsuccessful attempts to gain a financial toehold in the Republican personal-responsibility economy.

I truly enjoy your weekly cartoons, and especially especially look forward to your artist's statements. You manage to articulate many of my own thoughts, and although I do try to listen to viewpoints different from my own, I always enjoy a reflection of my own opinions the best. It's especially heartening to know that when I feel that I must be insane, given the behavior of everyone around me, there are others who think like me. If there are enough of us, at least we might get a named disorder in the DSM.

I'll try to send some support your way every once in a while. At this point, Obama doesn't seem to need it so much as before. Maybe if you are in Southern California some time I could give you a guided tour of JPL and buy you a drink (directly, as it were).

(William) Bruce Banerdt
P.S. Pluto is a poser.

Bruce Banerdt:

Actually, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. proposed a name for the syndrome we share:

"The disease is fatal. There is no known cure. The most we can do for the poor devil, it seems to me, is to name his disease in his honor. From this moment on, let all those who feel that Americans can be as easily led to beauty as to ugliness, to truth as to public relations, to joy as to bitterness, be said to be suffering from Hunter Thompson's disease."

I would gladly accept your proffered tour of JPL and beers, over which we will further discuss Pluto's true status in the solar system.

Tim Kreider


13 June 2008


Read the comment, know the feeling - to the extent, in fact, that I've attached Heinrich Schütz's "Unser Keiner Lebet ihm Selber," a tune that confirms that whatever else you can say about humanity, we got that "setting Romans 14 to music" thing done right. There's actually quite a moving story to it as well: Schütz, a 17th century composer living through the Thirty Years War, had his young wife unexpectedly die of an abrupt illness; before she died she gave him some consolatory scriptural passages, including the one he set to music here some years later. It goes

"Unser keiner lebet ihm selber und keiner stirbet ihm selber. Leben wir, so leben wir dem Herren; sterben wir, so sterben wir dem Herren. Darum wir leben oder sterben, so sind wir des Herren."

Which, if we render it into the Jacobean English that Paul wishes he'd actually written Romans in, reads

" For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord, and whether we die, we die onto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's."

A passage which, if you squint at it sideways a little bit is both comforting and communitarian; with the result that it's apparently been popular with socialists since way back. Of course the backstory would be pointless if the setting weren't breathtakingly beautiful; certainly different from the modern ecclesiastical stuff you mentioned, but this is generally the mp3 I use to prove to doubting friends that German is not, in fact, a hideous language. He even makes "sterben" - the pretty much undeniably ugly German word for "to die" - sound rather pretty.

For the Jackson 5-esque follow up, I reccomend "I was made to love her," classic Stevie Wonder motown. If I ever need the happiness equivalent of the atropine-needle-to-the-heart I'm thinking it'd be that. Relentlessly joyous.

I'd definately send you the money that, as a grad student, I don't have; however, I sent it all to Barack Obama. (Felony-tastic, as a Canadian.) I'll get back to you when I don't have more.

Jason Townsend

Jason Townsend:

I apologize for the delay in my reply. Thanks so much for the music. It's a useful reminder that neither the Germans nor humanity in general are all bad. (I used to want to learn German to read Nietzsche in the original, but, alas, I am a lazy person.)

I do know Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made to Love Her." I'm also a fan of his cover of The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out."



14 June 2008


I'm more than happy to support The Work. I am in fact a native Canuckistani, but the spirit and mad, maniacal brilliance of your work transcends any international border. "Beacon of Sanity" is not quite the phrase for it, so much as it is a handy shorthand for the many superlatives I could mass upon you.

The Pain is one of the few things that can give me belly laughs on multiple readings. It's also one of the few reminders that there are like minded, outraged people out there, and that it's not just me who spits up bile when the George's and Mr. Cheney's of the world turn things like "Iraq" into "Faggots is tryin' tuh get married! Wes gots tuh stop 'em!" If that makes any sense.

The sheer audacity of some of your material is a breath of fresh air compared to the watered down piss that passes for most political humour...or any humour, for that matter: your rendition of the mecha-terrorist in "More Reasons to Look Forward to the Next Terrorist Attack" cracks me up for too many reasons to list.

If you're ever in Vancouver, my pal Nick and I would love to show you around. We also have much to discuss with you concerning Richard Milhous Nixon, for we feel much the same way about him as you do.

You're a genius, Tim, and if there were any justice in the world, you'd be held right up there with R. Crumb or Swift (or R. Crumb and Swift's love child). Your comics are liquid hope and hilarity.

"It's the stuff that dreams are made of."

--Humphrey Bogart misquoting The Tempest, Act IV, Scene 1


PS: I found your essay on Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut illuminating.


Thanks for your extravagant compliments. If I'm in Vancouver, I'll let you know. (I really ought to keep a database of all the places in the world where I'm invited out for drinks.) At that time perhaps we will discuss the pathos and tragedy of Richard Nixon.



19 June 2008

Dear mister Kreider,

I'm a long-time visitor of thepaincomics, somewhere from around 2005, when I first followed a link to your comic from a site named ruthlessreviews.com . I have always been into american cartoons, since there's so many of them and the styles are so diverse. Most of it is crap; but YOUR comic never fails to bring a smile to my face, to make me warm inside - your cartoons, political or not, never fail to deliver. Even altough I live in Eastern Europe, you manage to present american political debacles in such a funny and original way that I can immediately understand them, even an ocean and a landmass away.

Thinking of the way thepaincomics has moved the past few years, it appears to me that the cartoons that delivered most were the ones that stood apart from the usual political themes - these are the cartoons about Onan the Barbarian ( which achieved a near-cult status in my own little bulgarian designer communities ( the artline comics forum, the graphilla forum ), the animal-americans, the waminals, and many more. I believe this are the cartoons that you will be remembered by, not the weekly political sketches. Every cartoonist, if he wishes to be considered 1st class, has to have one cartoon character. Disney had Mickey; Carl Barx - Donald Duck; Jean Eiffel - Adam, Eve and God; and if you wish to be remembered primary as a master of humour, I sincerely urge you to work further in the direction of the waminals - they may not be the best you've ever done, but they are cute, adorable, sympathetic and have a good chance to become your personal logo around cartooning history. Whatever you do, I will continue to visit your comic page, no matter if your art declines ( you drew the one arm of the legal guy in the last panel longer then the other ) or you loose your originality, or decide to move into lettering ( The style of the titles of your cartoons is amazing; I'm looking forward to the KraiderHand Script Font ).

I wish you best of health and luck,

your fan,
Mr. Vasil Stanev - Sofia, Bulgaria.

PS. If you ever need anything vectorized, feel free to notify me - I will do the job for you, considering I have the time.

Vasil Stanev,

Thanks for writing with your kind words about my ork. I am always especially gratified to hear from readers abroad. I hope that my work serves as a feeble beacon of sanity and reasonableness, a reminder that we're not all complete assholes over here.

If you prefer my non-political cartoons, you really should order a copy of my first book, "Why Do They Kill Me?", which collects the best of the cartoons I drew in the nineties (including Onan). I've been drawing cartoons professionally since 1994 and only began focusing on politics in 2000-2001, for obvious reasons. I agree with you that political cartoons have a short shelf life and I don't intend to keep drawing them after Bush has been dragged from office. However, your suggestion that the Waminals might become the thing I am remembered for so horrifies me that I am considering not only never drawing the Waminals again but eradicating all evidence of the Waminals from my website.

I don't know what vectorizing is. Maybe you should vectorize something for me--a Waminal, perhaps--and I'll see how I like it.


P.S. The lawyer's arm was the result of haste and indifference, not, I hope, of declining ability.


21 June 2008


You may remember me as the Brazilian programmer. (it's ok if you don't.) I'm currently in Barcelona enjoying the extremely low-priced Absolut, but I took the time to use the newly released Spore Creature Creator (it's used to make creatures for a game that hasn't been released yet. This is what happens to companies that do not deal in perishable goods.) to make one of the wacky and wuvable Waminalz.

You can see it in

Additionally, you can see the little bastard being adorable in

I hope I have captured the essential Waminalnezz in the design. If not, you can always launch some sort of contest and I'm sure more people on the Intertubes will try to outdo me.

This Is In Lieu Of A Donation,


As my beloved interness, Ms. C.-H. used to say: O for the love of the fuck.



26 June 2008

It looks as if it hasn't been updated since 2002, so I guess you can relax.
Steven F. Scharff

Steven Scharff :

Ha! I knew she would come to nothing. Kwazy wady. Woser!

Tim Kreider

Mr Kreider,

First of all, thank you for the acknowledgement of my email. I passed along your regards to Jessica, who is, as you said, completely gorgeous. (Members of that Facebook service can see the profile picture of her, thus my eager confirmation.)

To be a slight bit more egotistical and annoying for a moment, I would just like to thank you for, well, your thoughts and your work. Since I am coming up to the end of my degree (in Philosophy and History, which, I believe, makes me even less employable than a political cartoonist) I believe that I have the right to reflect upon my last few years and my influences.

I first came upon your site maybe a first and a half ago, while I was having a slight breakdown because of Albert Camus, Vonnegut and Nietzsche, three writers whom you don't really want to start reading at the same time. Within a week I had seen every comic, read every statement, and gone searching for any other essays that you had thankfully set upon the world. I printed off your comics (is that the right word? I will continue to use it) with statement and posted them on boards around my university and paraphrased you in the all-too-common "serious" conversations that we who read book and have open, if reluctant, ears to politics have.

As with most good influences, what reading you gave me was not a set of ideas or opinions but a certain attitude. I now believe that we do not have to have all the answers, and that just because we both live in democracies (or in my case a democracy under the Queen) doesn't mean that we honestly have to make a choice. This is not a decision between activism and apathy, a case of either taking sides and voting or not caring at all.

We are constantly told that we have to back someone, that if we don't have a team to back then we are soft, fence sitting pussies. As Stephen Colbert says, "Pick a side, we're at war." But do we have to pick sides, should we pick sides? Take the example of the Palestinian situation. Can this situation be as simple as line like "the Israelis are monsters" or "the Palestinians are terrorists?" I don't really know. What I do know is that I care. I care about the Jewish people and their need for a homeland and I care about the abuse that the Palestinians seem to have suffered and continue to suffer. I cannot take a side but this doesn't mean that I am apathetic. And the lesser of two evils is not really good enough, I don't want to have to make an evil decision. This type of "indecisiveness" is ignored in most democracies, you either have your say or you do not matter.

And this is what you gave to me. Now I know that I don't really have to have a firm idea, I don't have to have a complete opinion. But I should care; I should feel passionate about certain things. I should feel passionate about issues and questions that I don't have an concrete opinion about or answer for. That's what we have, passion and compassion. Even if we are completely ineffective, at least we care about what we do and who we affect.

I also have to thank you for introducing me to Matt Taibbi, who I have also become similarly obsessive with

I'm sorry if this email is slightly heartfelt and, thus, creepy, but I have been hesitating about writing you a not for a while now. I might as well lay things out while I have the courage to type a single word.

Thanks again,


Josh T.:

Seems to me like Vonnegut would be a good antidote to Nietzsche, though probably he's too weak to counteract both Nietzsche and Camus. That's a heady cocktail. Anyway, it is hallowed company in which to be mentioned, and I'll thank you for the flattering inclusion without pretending I belong there. It's an honor hear that your work has influenced a young person, as well as a daunting responsibility.

I do find it funny--not hilarious, but ironic--that you cite the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as an example of something you've come to view with increased compassion and engagement through my work, since, as you know, it's an issue I've specifically stated a resolve never to take any interest in whatsoever. It's certainly true that my resolute indifference to the whole thing has to do with the insistence of partisans on both sides that everyone else in the world take their side and join them in impassioned, self-righteous, monomaniacal repudiation and loathing of the other party. Not sure which way the Australian government leans on this issue, but in America the bias in the government and the media is decidedly pro-Israeli, and it always raises my hackles whenever being subjected to propaganda, the same way it does when you sense someone's giving you only one side of a story and leving out some crucial details. (I would feel the same way if I lived in Europe and were hearing only about the shameful oppression of the Palestinian people and not so much about the suicide bombers.) The tellltale sign of propaganda is always its certitude--its immediate, absolute, airtight answers to all questions, doubts and arguments. (Do not even get me started on conspiracy theories.) Anyone who claims to have all the answers is invariably full of shit. It's very seldom in reality that a situation is clearly and unambiguously a case of good and evil, innocence and guilt, victim and oppressor. More often there's a whole history of complicity and bad behavior on all sides. Moral complexity and ambiguity are the rule. As our old dance instructor Herr N. tells us, "Digressions, objections, delight in mockery, carefree mistrust are signs of health; everything unconditional belongs in pathology." Or, to quote another great philosopher: "Only the Sith deal in absolutes."

Of course often for the sake of humor one has to take a reductive position. And sometimes the reality is pretty simple, and it's your job to cut through the obfuscations of professional liars: torture is wrong; we were lied to about Iraq; the Bush administration are criminals. But we should also be wary of how good it feels to do this. That way lies dogma, complacency, fanaticism--in short, the same clear-eyed certitude that's so unattractive in evangelical dingbats.

But that doesn't sound like it's going to be your problem. Young people are characteristically full of righteous fervor, which is a good thing compared to the apathy and complicity of their elders, but can also be kind of annoying and has been, on some noteworthy historical occasions, dangerous (see the Cultural Revolution). An appreciation of ambiguity and nuance and the ability to see both sides clearly--what Keats called "Negative Capability"--is a rare thing, and it'll serve you well in this world, although it'll probably make your life more complicated and difficult, too. People who lack it have no tolerance for it, as you know, and you'll get called all sorts of nasty things, traitor being one of the nicest of them.

Well obviously you've seen through my pose of indifference and pessimism to the disillusioned and angry innocent who is at the heart of every cynic. I wouldn't keep drawing these goddamn cartoons, for as little good as they do, if I didn't care. I'd just crank out the fuckin' Waminals and watch the money roll in. Although I can't take credit for your passionate interest or intelligence or kind nature I'll wish you well with them, tell you to keep fighting the good fight and, as Molly Ivins (whom you'd love if you love Matt Taibbi) said, don't forget to have fun doing it.

Tim Kreider

30 June 2008

Dear Tim,

Your thoughts on the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) and the small albeit worrying
possibility of creating a micro black hole that would slowly eat the earth like
a tiny matter eating pac-man, or creating a strangelet, that would turn all
matter on earth into a floating glob of "strange matter" or "dark strange
matter" or just your run-of-the-mill "dark matter", or pissing off some other
-dimensional beings resulting in a crazy, confusing as hell multi-dimensional
war against people with arms for legs and eyes on their leg-elbows from the
15th dimension.

You kinda of have to hand it to us, as humans. I mean, the options for ending
earth have gotten way more ridiculously awesome with the development of this
collider whats-it.

It'll almost be a drag if it just buzzes a little and does what it was built

Anyhow, your thoughts sir?
Yours truly,
Paul Osimo

Paul Osimo,

Believe it or not I already have a smashing drawing of the LHC ready to go, which I drew for a cartoon whose premise I later realized I'd already used a year ago and had to abandon. I've been holding onto it, though, and now that the LHC is about to fire up the time might be ripe to break it out. I did read an article about the two guys who were suing the LHC in a Hawaii district court [?--not "?" as in "I am uncertain of my facts" but "?" as in "What the fuck?"] for a more complete environmental impact statement--to wit, some credible reassurance that it would not suck the whole world into the eighth dimension. And in fact together with my already-extant drawing, your three contingencies--black hole, strangelet, interdimensional menace--would constitute a completed cartooon. I am always up for drawing some Lovecraftian monstrosity from Beyond, although no promises about eyeballs on the leg-elbows.