Announcement: webmaster Dave has got the new letters page up and running. Thanks to my lovely and capable intern Ms. Phelætia Czochula-Hautpanz for graciously handling the bulk of my electronic correspondence, and to everyone who’s written in with kind words for my work. I’ve scheduled a session with the official photographer of the Pain, Sam Holden, to shoot a portrait of Ms. C.-H., which we’ll be posting on the letters page in the new few weeks if she doesn’t back out.
The dreaded early holiday deadline this week, so I had to race to send in a halfassed cartoon before leaving the house on Thursday to go see King Kong with Boyd and spend Friday with my best groupie Alicia. But then, at the last minute, Boyd called me from work with an idea for a cartoon much better than the one I was even then finishing: “We’re in Iraq, and you’re saying ‘I really think things are about to turn around for you and me,’ and behind us you can see a truck loaded with explosives driving toward us.’” The idea came far too late, but I realized I had to draw it anyway. Boyd pointed out that we’ll surely still be in Iraq a year from now, so I could always draw it then, but I just couldn’t bear to run the less funny cartoon knowing I could’ve done a better one. So for the next twenty-four hours, in every spare moment between movies and breakfasts and Greek dinners and drinks with friends, I frantically drew on coffee tables, diner counters, and bars. Because I wasn’t going to be able to go home before turning the cartoon in I couldn’t scan it or Photoshop it, so the composition had to be completely planned out in advance and the drawing (more or less) flawless. I used liberal amounts of liquid paper. Alicia and I sat in John Stevens, Ltd. in Fell’s Point all Friday afternoon, working away on our little projects like an old Victorian couple on a dull evening, me drawing, she sewing a patch that said “WE ARE ALL BAD GIRLS” onto a purse for her younger sister and occasionally reminding me to drink my beer. A total stranger came up to thank me for my work. Alicia said he looked familiar; “Have I given him a blowjob?” she wondered. I drove the original up to the City Paper office, copied it on their copy machine, which I remembered always miraculously eradicates all stray pencil lines, and handed it personally to Uli, the production editor, who I met in person for the first time that day. It was 4:30 P.M.: cocktail hour. It was all very old-school. Ah, this is the life of a cartoonist!
Long-time readers will recognize “I really
think things are about to turn around for you and me” as the yearly
refrain of the New Year’s cartoon. It’s the theme of a hopeful
talk I always used to give Boyd around the holidays until he pointed out that
I said the same thing every year, which realization depressed me. Driving
home last night, the local jazz station played a version of the only Christmas
song that ever makes me sentimental or nostalgic, “Have Yourself a Merry
Little Christmas.” If you listen to the lyrics, you’ll notice
that it’s all about how someday soon, next year, surely, things’ll
be better, we’ll all be together then, and our troubles will seem miles
away. What goes unspoken—or unsung, rather—is how shitty things
must be now. I’ve always assumed it was written in wartime. Here’s
wishing us all a better New Year.