Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 7/03/02

Artist's Statement

I was in New York City for a comic book show two weekends ago, and on the subway ride infrom Brooklyn I had another of my inspiring political conversations with Megan Kelso, author of the comics Girlhero, Queen of the Black Black, and Artichocke Tales. Megan's good to talk to about these things, because although she feels just as stunned and paralyzed by our present national nightmare as I do, unlike me, she's not pessimistic or cynical about it; she still has a sort of innocent, outraged faith in the crap they taught us in civics class -- for example, that American citizens can't be arrested and held without being charged. This, I think, is what Christopher Hitchens, in his book Letters to aYoung Contratian, calls "living 'as if.' " It's how dissidents chose to live under the Soviet Bloc regeimes throughout the Cold War--taking the government's propoganda at face value, behaving as though you lived in a functioning democracy when you don't, excercising your rights as though they actually existed and could make a difference. Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle puts it like this in The Silver Chair: "liv[ing] as like a Narnian as I caneven if there isn't any Narnia." This sort of political stance requires a flair for the absurd, an acknowledgement of the fundamental futility of the endeavor, and faith that it might actually work. Luckily, I have at least two of these traits in spades.I came back from New York reluctantly resolved to put aside my beloved Klibanesque non sequiturs -- the pale blobby retarded children being fed giant drums of wet cat food, the carrots stuck up old men's butts--and draw nothing but hideous and damning political cartoons until I get arrested or someone demands an official apology.

This week's image was inspired by a speech titled "An Open Letter to John Ashcroft," given by author Claire Braz-Valentine at this year's "Celebration of the Muse" at Cabrillo College, which was forwarded to me by my girlfriend Allison in Armenia. In it, Braz-Valentine juxtaposed the Bush administration's toppling of the prudish, oppressive, misogynistic Taliban regime, which forced women to cover themselves in burkas, with our own prudish, oppressive, misogynistic Attorney General's draping of the statue of Justice with a discreet curtain: "While we were begging the women of Afghanistan to not cover up their faces, you were begging your staff members to just cover up that nipple to save the American people from that monstrous metal mammary," she said. The irony was so obvious and perfect that even a mainstream op-ed pundit like Maureen Dowd caught on to it, and I can't believe that no other political cartoonists have used it yet. But as far as I know no one has. Hopefully this cartoon will illustrate the difference in dramatic impact between evoking an image in prose and actually creating that image.

This cartoon runs the week of the Fourth of July. Let me say on this occasion that, like Megan Kelso and most other bitter, disillusioned cynics, I am basically an idealist, and I really do love America. Don't get me wrong; I don't give a shit about the brutal, mercenary nation-state calling itself America (only idiots and assholes actually care about nation-states, or churches, or corporations, or any other made-up tribe, and don't you forget it) but I love the idea this country was founded on, that people of different races and religions and ideologies might be able tolive together, free to disagree and dissent from their government--in other words, everything the current illegitimate administration regards with narrow-eyed suspicion and contempt. We must publicly mock and refute and oppose these people and their policies until we have driven them and their Hitler Youth government and their backwoods hillbilly God out of our public buildings like the verminous infestation they are. Then we'll tear down that goddamn blue curtain and let the naked titty of Justice shine throughout the land. I'm not fucking kidding. Happy Fourth of July.