Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 12/13/06

Artist's Statement

I have added several new links to our "Friends of The Pain" page lately. I urge you to look in on them. Those who empathize with the plight of the unfortunate Mr. Tehn will particularly appreciate the White Hat People.

As B. Kliban wrote about "The Turk" in Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head: "for some reason, the following series of drawings emerged of their own free will over a two-week period, and then stopped, for some other reason." I woke up in the middle of Thursday night remembering a drawing I had done in high school, of Mr. Tehn wearing a borrowed suit on his way to a job interview. I realized that he must be the subject of my cartoon this week. The less said about it, I think, the better. Good luck, Mr. Tehn!

In lieu of a political rant this week I will tell you about the extremely cool thing I did over the weekend. I went up to Sotheby's on Sunday, which was the last day of an exhibit of rare letters and manuscripts before they were all to be auctioned off Monday morning. I saw letters written by Puccini, Chopin, Wagner, Beethoven, Napoleon, Catherine of Aragon, Ludwig II (the mad king who built that fantastic Cinderella's castle in Bavaria, and whose handwriting is certifiably deranged, a cross between Dr. Seuss and a Richter scale reading), Jung, Feud, Kaspar David Friedrich, emily Dickinson, and autographed photos of Marilyn Monroe and--my favorite--Manfred von Richtofen, a.k.a. The Red fucking Baron, looking natty as Death himself in his leather uniform uniform.

But the real reason I'd gone was because they were also auctioning off a large collection of books, manuscripts, and letters by Howard Philips Lovecraft. I asked where the Lovecraft letters were, figuring they'd be displayed in a glass case. Instead, because of my good manners and expensive new pants, the gentleman I spoke to, generously assuming I was a serious bidder, removed Lot 74, three folders of letters elegantly tied with black ribbon, from the case and handed them to me to take to my own private table to peruse at my leisure. So I got to pore over the original handwritten letters of H.P. Lovecraft for the better part of an hour. I didnít even have to wear gloves. Some of the letters were encased in plastic but some were just eighty-year-old pieces of typing paper, browned and brittle at the edges, tears meticulously repaired with scotch tape. Lovecraft was somewhat hermitic in his habits but wrote about 100,000 letters in his lifetime; he was both a solitary and voluble man. Most of the letters in this collection were written to Andrew Belknap Long, a younger writer of horror and fantasy. Some of them were illustrated with surprisingly funny little doodles, most of them showing Lovecraft himself as the old 18th-century country squire he liked to imagined himself to be, sometimes in a powdered wig or tricot hat, with many more wrinkles and chins than he ever amassed in his short life. One letter was written on the stationery of the Puritan Hotel, whose logo was a little Puritan. Next to one of these Lovecraft wrote "H.P.L." and drew a little arrow; on another page, he transformed the Puritan into an Arab with a turban. He drew faux hieroglyphics, Norse gods hurling little lightning bolts, a Roman emperor named THEOBALDVS (this was one of his cryptic in-jokey names for himself). Most of the letters began with apologies for the delay in his reply and complaints about the dreadful Lassitude that had afflicted him of late. In one he said he had not stirred from the house since March 11th; it was dated April 6th. I read his assessment of Lincoln (he preferred the political views of Jefferson Davis), a long, meticulous catalogue of the reasons for religious belief (#1 - habit), and inimitable Lovecraftian phrases like "the Syphean wraiths of the decaying gentry." He affected eighteenth-century writing conventions, writing Sís as elongated graceful Fís and abbreviating words with apostrophes ("partickílar"). When transcribing verse, he wrote not in cursive but in carefully formalized block letters, like an inscription carved in stone. He referred to himself as "Grandpa." One return address was "feline headquarters." One letter ran to sixty pages, longhand. 

My friend Boyd, who monitors such things, tells me they sold for $45,000.


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