I got an e-mail from someone in production at the Baltimore City Paper on Thursday night letting me know that the deadline had been moved from the usual 5 P.M. Friday to noon. As regular readers of the Pain know I have a very rigorous, systematic work schedule and this change threatened to disrupt it badly. Normally Thursday is reserved for fretting about the cartoon and getting things done around the house to avoid beginning work on the cartoon and feeling anxious and guilty about not drawing the cartoon. As I am forever explaining to friends who want me to get the cartoon done early so I can goof off with them on Friday, it is simply not possible for me to skip this phase and go right to working on the cartoon. It just doesn’t work that way. A full day’s nervous procrastination is required to get the creative process in motion. Luckily I am nothing if not graceful under pressure. I was able to spend Thursday evening in re-reading random sections of Robert Stone’s Children of Light and half-listening to Loveline and feeling acutely anxious and guilty about not beginning the cartoon. Friday morning I woke up early, had coffee, and drew this cartoon in a three-hour frenzy of activity.
Thanks to my friend Bill Dominick, private investigator and fiddler extraordinaire, whose idea this basically was. He e-mailed me the as-yet unconfirmed report of U.S. ‘copters attacking a wedding in Iraq, along with the quip, “Hey, we thought it was a GAY wedding!” Meanwhile my friend Ben up in Boston e-mailed me some photos he took at the historic first legal gay weddings in Cambridge. One of them showed two protesters, so obviously repressed lesbians it was hardly worth mocking, screaming and holding up signs that said “GOD HATES FAGS” and (you think I’m making this up? I’m not) “GOD BLEW UP THE SPACE SHUTTLE.” Now okay I mean obviously these people are insane, and yet, even so, I don’t see how this latter sign makes any sense, not even in some homophobic fundamentalist dingbat delusional system. Why would God have blown up the space shuttle? And what would this have to do with gay marriage? Was one of the Columbia crew gay? Was the historic first gay astronaut on board that flight? If so, I didn’t hear anything about it. Anyone who can offer any insight into this mystery please let me know.
So I have no real idea what, if anything, this cartoon is about. It’s not really about the wedding attack; it would certainly not surprise me if it turned out the Iraqis had started the wedding rumor as crude anti-American propaganda, although it also wouldn’t surprise me if the U.S. military mistakenly blew up a wedding reception and was stubbornly insisting it was terrorists. It is a regrettable sign of the times that I have come to regard our own official sources of information as only marginally more credible than paranoid Arabic rumors, conspiracy theories, and lies. It’s just an absurd escalation of that increasingly surreal sense of “What Next?” that’s dogged us all for the last few weeks. (The latest is this reputed photo of an Iraqi prisoner covered with an unidentified “brown substance” that the media were hoping, with feeble optimism, might be mud. You go to bed numbly wondering how much more horrible could things get and then you wake up and over your first cup of coffee you have to hear about U.S. troops smearing prisoners with what is obviously HUMAN SHIT.) Plus remember I had only three hours and it was either this or “Me, the Freeloading Negro” (do not even ask). Sometimes you just throw two disparate images or ideas together and hope they resonate. The saving grace here, as far as I’m concerned, is the waiter glaring up at the hovering gunship firing missiles at the reception while he’s trying to construct a delicate champagne-glass fountain.
Tim Kreider will be at Reptilian Records (403 South Broadway, in Fell's Point, Baltimore ) from 7 to 9 P.M. on Saturday, May 29th, to sign the first available copies of The Pain--When Will It End?, the collection of his best cartoons from Fantagraphics. The official book release party will be held immediately afterward at everyone's favorite family corner bar, Cox's Pub (1501 Covington St, at Fort Avenue and Covington in South Baltimore), a pleasant water taxi ride across the harbor from Fell's Point. Books will also be on sale at the party and Tim will happily sign them, although by then his hand-eye coordination will have deteriorated badly. Fellow cartoonists, rocket scientists, novelists, poets, punk rockers, dominatrices, transsexuals, hornswogglers, Satanists, at least one Buddhist, and Tim's mom will all be there. Tim's best friends, on whom his characters are based, will be drinking heavily and behaving in ways that will be uncannily familiar to regular readers of the comic. Basically, it will be exactly like being in one of Tim's cartoons, if that's your idea of a good time.
George and Mister Cheney have been invited but cannot confirm their availability at this time.
Click here for book tour information