Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 03/19/03

Artist's Statement

A couple of weeks ago there was a national walk-out in protest of the war; students left their classes, employees left their workplaces. Comrade-at-arms and fellow stay-at-home cartoonist Megan Kelso informed me of an alternative event arranged by a friend of hers for artists like us who have nothing to walk out of. This was a sort of peaceful occupation of the Ancient Near East wing of the Met, where we would all sit quietly sketching the art there. I will admit that this sounded like an even more embarassingly lameassed gesture than all the other useless symbolic marches and rallies I've stood around in to protest this war, but in the end rueful moral obligation and loyalty to Megan prevailed.

I ended up being unexpectedly glad to have gone, for two reasons. One is that I got this cartoon out of it. One subtle irony of the protest was that all of the artwork in the gallery we were occupying, the art we were all dutifully sketching in order to honor and celebrate the ancient and glorious heritage of the people our government was about to bomb, were bas-relief steles immortalizing the rulers of the first military empires in human history--bearded, barrel-chested diety-kings with eagles' wings and cannonball calf muscles straight out of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way!, accompanied by lengthy fine-print cuneiform inscriptions that I happen to know, from art history classes, consist entirely of grandiloquent and dubious boasting about their bloody conquests, e.g. "I am Ashur-Bannipal, King of Ninevah, Lord of the Universe, the Mighty, the Invincible, who ground up the bones of my foes and drank them," etc. It struck me that there was a certain rough, metaphorical, world-historical justice--as opposed to actual, moral or legal justice--in this war, since this whole let's-us-invade-your-nation-state-and-take-all-your-stuff idea did originate, way back when, in what is now Iraq, more or less, and what goes around does in fact eventually come around, as even we in America are now learning. The idea for the cartoon occurred to me as I drew, and all that was left to do was fill in the cuneiform.

The other reason I'm glad to have gone was that it was less lameassed than I had feared. There was actually a certain--I know how this sounds but it's true--a certain quiet power in the simple fact of so many people just showing up, mute testament to an underground organization and solidarity. Some security guys and museum officials stood around to keep an eye on us, but nobody was doing anything disruptive, so we were never asked to leave. It turns out to be kind of exhilerating--or unnerving, depending on which side of the police barricades you're on--when The People spontaneously assemble in protest. Like, see, we're just sitting here quietly sketching for now, but we could do something else if we wanted to, and you might not be able to stop us. We'll see what we have to do when this war actually starts, and whether they'll be able to stop us.