I've had the idea for the first panel of this cartoon for years, and just had to wait for my own life to degrade in quality sufficiently to provide me with additional examples. Often while driving on Maryland's seedy and disreputable Route 40, which is about ten minutes from my house, I see people dashing back and forth across the highway between liquor stores, bars, hotels, etc. and feel a terrible shudder of pity, revulsion, and gratitude that there but for the grace of God etc. Yesterday, in the stupefying heat, I saw a guy pushing a little boy down the shoulder in a wheelchair. It was was almost too much to bear. Sometimes you see obese people in motorized carts. One time I saw a guy dressed as Jesus lugging his cross up the shoulder of 40. I stopped and asked him if he needed anything (I still got a soft spot for Jesus from all those years of Sunday school) and he asked me where the nearest laundromat was.
I overheard the conversation in Panel 2 at the payphones at the central branch of the Enoch Pratt library. The guy had been loudly protesting his love until he noticed me standing at the payphone next to him, when he got all embarassed and closemouthed. To be honest, I've had some pretty intimate and pathetic conversations on the Pratt's payphones myself.
The grim scene depicted in panel 3 has played itself out more times than I care to admit in recent weeks. I've been going through what my friends call "a tough time" and have gone with Boyd to see movies that under conditions of normal mental health I would never have consented to view, like The Matrix: Reloaded. Come to think of it--oh my God--although I picked the day of the week and movie title in this cartoon pretty much at random, I'm just now realizing that Boyd and I have in fact made plans to go and see Hulk tomorrow night, a Tuesday. The cartoon is prescient. Our lives really do suck.
As not infrequently happens, an embarassing story has attached itself to this cartoon. Last Thursday night I went out to my local restaurant/bar for dinner, and took this cartoon along with me to work on. For the first time ever, the thing I always hope will happen actually did happen: the most gorgeous girl in the place (instead of the craziest lady, or the drunkest man) came over and sat down at my table and asked if she could see what I was drawing. (The catch turned out to be that she was married, and was only talking to me because she was bored and annoyed with her dorky pool-shooting husband and his friends.) She liked the cartoon, and we talked for a while. One of her dorky friends came over and faked writing something on her hand with a marker, and she recoiled irritably and told him, "You're not allowed to draw anything on me unless it looks like that!", gesturing at my cartoons. "I'll draw something on you if you want," I said--a forward suggestion, I realize, but I didn't know she was married at this point and hey, she did come over to sit next to me. Also she had incredibly beautiful breasts. She hesitated. "Well, I have a tattoo I wanted to get an addition to," she said. I aksed the obvious questions: "Where is this tattoo, and what is it of?" She turned around and pulled down her pants slightly. It turned out to be one of those tattoos that secretly drive me wild with lust, located on the smooth triangular plane of the coccyx just a few inches above the cleft of the ass. It was a totemic-looking sun symbol, sort of like the one on New Mexico's flag. She said she'd been planning to get some tribal stuff tattooed around it. I told her I couldn't do that, but I did offer to draw a little face in the sun. "Only if it's that face," she said, and pointed at my drawing of Boyd in panel 3. "Believe me," I said, "he would love that." Of course this all turned out to be so much flirty banter and came to nothing in the end, which was probably just as well. I could not help but imagnie some traumatic sexual moment where I'd have my penis instantly wilted and my libido irreparably scarred by the sight of Boyd's little face scowling up at me as if to say, "You'd better not get any of your filthy jism on me, you fucker."
What the actual Boyd had to say about this story merits recording: "If you could've tattooed my ass on her face, I'd be beside myself with joy."