Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 4/03/02

Artist's Statement

I've had the premise for this cartoon in mind for months, but hadn't gotten around to drawing it because it required some research and kind of a lot of drawing. But once again my deadline and desparation provided the necessary incentive. I had to spend a morning looking up websites about both body modification and landmines. I found the sites about body modification far, far more disturbing. I live a pretty media-sheltered life and I had no idea how many creative and fashionable new ways people had invented to mutilate themselves. Skin removal--Jesus fucking Christ in Heaven. Years ago I wanted to do a parody of body modification by extrapolating fashions of the future, like slitting the tongue in half to fork it, but then of course I saw a photograph of that very procedure in a magazine and realized that reality had preempted me once again. It's harder and harder to be a satirist in these end times. More recently, a friend of mine told me about a documentary she saw about someone who paid to have himself shot, as in with a gun, to produce a macho and sexy bullet-wound scar. She was gratified to see him rushed to the emergency room screaming and weeping in pain.

When I saw all the proud, smug expressions on the fresh, babyfat faces of the adolescents showing off their pierced lips and cheeks, obviously thinking of themselves as rebellious and shocking and sexy, I knew I had to finally draw this cartoon. Unfortunately I think it came out not so much funny as just brutal. You might gasp in a sort of horror and admiration of how black the humor is, but it's not exactly a knee-slapper. I'm afraid I failed to disguise my contempt as artfully as I usually do. But I'm sorry, kids, you're just making yourselves look ugly and stupid, and it's a little hard to take seriously in a world where a lot of less wealthy and privileged people are subject to more unfashionable varieties of body modification--legs blown off by land mines, hands amputated by the Islamic judicial system, bellies bloated from starvation. I didn't even draw the contrast between clitoral piercings and female genital mutilation.

Or maybe, to be honest, my resentment is less politically motivated than that. As someone who's undergone a little involuntary body modification of my own (I have a 6" long scar on my throat--long story), I don't have much patience with people who have to disfigure and flay themselves in order to make themselves look interesting instead of actually being interesting.

Or maybe I'm just getting old--the least fashionable body modification of all.