Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 8/10/05

Artist's Statement

Before we get into this week's artist's statement, allow me to extend congratulations to my friend and colleague Emily Flake on the publication of her first book, Lulu Eightball, collecting the best of her weekly cartoon. Those of you who preferred my old, non-political cartoons will be pleased to learn that Emily Flake is currently drawing cartoons just as funny as mine ever were. Since the bastards didn't use the blurb I wrote for the book, I will repeat it here:

You will laugh the cringing, guilty laughter of unwelcome self-recognition. Emily Flake's cartoons are all about breakups and hangovers, low self-esteem and poor judgment, humiliation and failure, but they're never truly cynical. She also loves monkeys and pirates and pot-bellied bald men. Her foreign centipede, with his desperately earnest broken English, breaks my fucking heart. As cool and wisecracking as her work may want to seem, at heart it's secretly sad and kind, full of rueful fondness for our bottomless genius for self-defeat.

The book can be ordered directly from Atomic Books at: .

I was just about to drive down to the Rendezvous Inn as I do every Thursday night to ogle hot Americorps girls and start work on my cartoon when I saw an article online about President Bush beginning his vacation. I knew then that my cartoon that week would be about George's vacation. I figured the details would just fill themselves in like they always do, which they did; I drew the jetskiing and Risk panels at the bar. (Note all the game pieces signifying troops concentrated in the Middle East.) As it happens the first three panels are all based on things I did on a recent vacation in the Idaho panhandle. Jetskiing, like making out on the subway or invading a sovereign nation just to take their oil, turns out to be one of those things that's obnoxious when other people do it but incredibly fun when it is you. I did not personally play Risk but everyone else I was staying with got obsessed with an incomprehensible game called "Settlers of Catan." And although I was not photgraphed with Bullwinkle we did go to an amusement park where Garfield was supposed to be mingling with visitors, but we never saw him, the fat orange bastard. I don't know why I imagine that Bush would be a huge Bullwinkle fan--Bullwinke is pretty erudite for a cartoon. In truth I picture George being more of a Tom & Jerry man.

The last panel, our ostensible punchline, is uncharacteristically unfunny and also rather uncharacteristically supportive of Our Troops. I developed a liking for this guy as I drew him and his heartbreakingly mundane fantasy. I considered giving him some raunchy sexual fantasy--his wife posting naked pictures of herself on the internet or some such thing--but decided that the simpler and more ordinary it was the more poignant it would be. And we go for poignancy in a big way here at The Pain. I did give him a cute wife with a ponytail pulled through the back of her ball cap, for which look I am kind of a sucker. This cartoon seems like it achieves a good balance between my love for George Bush and my hatred for George Bush. I certainly have a complicated relationship with the President. Anyway, hope you're having a good one down in Crawford, George. We all know being President is real hard work. And don't lose any sleep over that whole Iraq thing. Best thing to do, probably, is just lie low for a while and wait for it to blow over. Seems like one of those things that'll eventually just take care of itself.


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