Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
I trust everyone had a pleasant summer. My hiatus was an even greater success than I had hoped. I missed everything about cartooning—the opportunity to spout off about politics every week, your e-mails, the groupies—except drawing cartoons. I did toss off the occasional cartoon about monsters (Cthulhu, Dracula, Lieberman), but devoted most of my time to writing for publications of varying prestige and quality about hardcore horror writers, retired cartoonists, conservative humorists, and Pluto. I return to weekly cartooning this week, refreshed and warily prepared to turn my attention to terrestrial politics once more.
I’m afraid it’s likely that you’ll be seeing cartoons about politics less consistently, and more cartoons about monsters. Many of you have written Ms. C.-H. to let her know that you appreciate my political work, that you depend on it for perspective and sanity, and to encourage me not to give up my ceaseless battle against The Man. And I am genuinely grateful for it. But please bear in mind that the reasons you enjoy reading my cartoons (seeing your own marginalized political views given vent, cathartic release of outrage, the reassurance that It’s Not Just You) are not necessarily the same reasons I enjoy drawing them (monsters, tits, explosions). Also, as regular readers have perhaps begun to sense, having to get infuriated about the latest affront to the Constitution, common sense, or human decency every week—not to mention having to find something funny about it—has been hard on me. The process of turning the raw material of rage into the refined product of humor is not unlike that whereby liver metabolizes alcohol; it saves the body from poisoning, but, ultimately, also turns the liver into a tough, shriveled, useless little lump. This is what was beginning to happen to me. The rage!—the rage was killing me.
This September finds me more productive, and in better spirits, than I have been in several years. I intend to continue to spend most of my time writing even as I return to weekly cartooning. We do have an election coming up, and I’ll be observing that with a jaundiced and pessimistic eye. But already I confess I am indulging almost pornographically fun fantasies that if the Democrats inadvertently manage, through sheer virtue of the Republicans’ incompetence and evil, to win control of the Legislative branch, they might finally find the balls to launch investigations into this administration’s unprecedented abuses of power and put the President, and his owners and lackeys, in jail. One way or another, I am resolved to continue drawing political cartoons at least intermittently until George Bush has been evicted from the White House, which hopefully will be sooner rather than later. It’s just that once in a while I’m going to have to give it a rest and turn instead to soothing thoughts of monsters and space battles.
For a while there I really did turn off the radio every time I heard the word Hezbollah, which, for most of August, meant snapping it off almost immediately every single time I tried to listen to the news. I feel like I missed nothing. After a summer of hysterical alarms about a Third World War and Armageddon, I’ve emerged from my media blackout and am shocked to learn that the Middle East is an impoverished rubble-strewn shithole teetering on the brink of a bloodbath, just as it has been every day since I was born.
Readers of J.D. Salinger will not need to be told who “The Fat Lady” is.
Of my ill-considered visit to the grave of H.P. Lovecraft, and of my subsequent sojourn in that Godforsaken city of Providence, whose cowering gambrels I hope never to glimpse again in this life, it is best I should not speak, not only for the sake of my own sanity and peace of mind, and of those black secrets it is now my unwelcome duty—I should say my curse—to keep locked within my brain until death, but for your own, gentle reader: for if I were to impart to you the merest sliver of an intimation of the Things I have seen and learned these last months, you would spend the rest of your wretched days screaming in a madhouse.
As I’ve mentioned, I really did become the Lorax of Pluto for a couple of days in August. I wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in a last-ditch effort to save Pluto’s place in the solar system, and the next day, when Pluto finally got the formal boot from the I.A.U., I inexplicably became the go-to Pluto guy for ABC News, and ended up not only doing a commentary for ABC World News online but being interviewed on Nightline (which I persisted in referring to as Loveline in front of the show’s crew). That brief glory has blown over now, and Pluto and I have both been returned to our respective peripheral and obscure places in the outer darkness, where we brood on old wrongs, and coldly, implacably, scheme our revenge.
My Invisibility Goggles come to me courtesy of the Superhero Supply Co. in Brooklyn, NY. Ladies, beware!