Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 03/15/06

Artist's Statement

This cartoon, it turns out, was prefigured by my artist’s statement for “Constellations of the South,” drawn six years ago (11/29/00). I was inspired to draw it this week by a viewing of the independent film “C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America,” and the PBS series “Reconstruction.” The former is a mockumentary PBS-style program about then history of America after the Confederacy enlisted foreign aid to beat the Union; the latter a documentary about the years following the Civil War, in which the Federal government half-assedly implemented its reconstruction plan until it started to be too much trouble and Southerners fought bitterly to ensure that blacks would not gain political, economic, or social equality—to ensure that, in effect, the civil war would have been fought for nothing. And it is hard to escape the conclusion that, in the same sense that Germany and Japan ultimately came out on top after World War II (economic giants without the crippling burden of maintaining military empires) the South really did win the war. Their victory was cemented after the fight for full civil rights in the Sixties. This was the last time the Democratic Party stood up for anything it believed in and because of it they lost the South forever and learned that they must never under any circumstances stand up for anything again. They haven’t gotten a northerner elected President since Kennedy. This would be a civilized country now if we weren’t still handcuffed to the bloated corpse of the Slave States. Instead of having free health care we have to listen to these moronic trolls bellyache about their beloved guns, Intelligent Design, Traditional Marriage, and unborn babies. A supreme court packed with pro-life stooges is about to overturn Roe v. Wade. Tennessee wants to join Alabama in outlawing vibrators. For fuck’s sake—somebody drop the bomb already. Exterminate the brutes.

I think a lot of my rancor toward them South would be mollified if they’d just acknowledge that the Civil War was about slavery, that they were in the wrong, and that they lost. You know who a good model for the South would be? The Germans. The Germans, like the South, had their country burned flat for them and, unlike the South, they were honest and brave and contrite enough to admit that, you know what, we lost it there for a while. We turned into monsters. Thanks for razing our nation to the ground; we needed that. The Germans are still apologizing for the Holocaust sixty years later. They’re haunted by collective guilt. I admire that. The South is still in defiant, bigoted denial about the Civil War. They’re still flying the Stars and Bars over their state capitols, which to me is like seeing Germans displaying the swastika and ingenuously defending it as an historically accurate part of their cultural heritage. Oh, I know most Southerners believed they were just fighting to defend their land; so did most Germans (of course, they believed that Austria, Poland, Belgium, France, and Russia were all their land). So what? Who cares what they believed? Their cause was evil. They deserved to lose. Take down the goddamned Confederate flags already, you inbred slaveowning scum. Don’t you have any shame?

This venting may also be part of the yearly sigh of relief I breathe whenever I move to New York City and away from rural Maryland. Although Maryland was, of necessity, a Union State (Baltimore was literally held at cannonpoint by Federal troops), it is south of the Mason-Dixon line, and was, I am sorry to say, a slave state, and these days it is solidly Red country. I live in a county where the best-selling beer is the Silver Bullet, Fox news or NASCAR is on in every bar, pop country is ubiquitous on the muzak, and people who live in trailers own powerboats as expensive, and as big, as houses. There is a Klan chapter there. In order to run any errand I have to brace myself for an emotional gauntlet of bumper stickers advertising every brand of ignorance, bigotry and bad idea imaginable: the ubiquitous yellow-ribbon magnets, the stars and bars unironically displayed alongside Old Glory, “FREEDOM ISN’T FREE,” “MY PRESIDENT IS CHARLTON HESTON,” “VOTE YOUR SPORT”— “THE BIG BANG THEORY: GOD SAID IT… AND BANG!-- IT HAPPENED!” By the time I get home with a bag of groceries I’m often dazed and fatigued with rage.

There is an oddly pure strain of displaced Appalachian hillbilly where I live, and the three characters on the left in panel 1 were copied pretty faithfully from photographs of a local Southern Rock festival. The guy in the center, in particular, is an archetype of the area; something in the inbred squint of the eyes, the dumb, beady suspicion, the protuberant ears and thin, filmy pubescent moustache. To my dismay I found that, having drawn the guy on the far right, I did not hate him; in fact, I kind of pitied and loved him. He doesn’t mean any harm. He’s just a big doofus. This is what always happens when I draw George Bush, who I also hate in real life. An occupational hazard. The nameless priest in Grahan Greene’s The Power and the Glory muses, “When you visualized a man or woman carefully, you could always begin to feel pity...”

The lady on the far left is a variation on the usual Southern Religious Lady I draw; I consulted with my fashion advisor Megan to get the particulars of a more upscale Republican wardrobe right. Also invaluable as a reference was an amazing photo I found via Google image search: . It is not unlike Goya’s portrait of the family of Charles IV.


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