Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 2/28/07

Artist's Statement

As of this writing, none of the possible voodoo targets I selected in my last cartoon has died. However, the Taliban did try to kill Dick Cheney. (Talk about Who Do You Root For?) However itís not clear to what, if any, extent my countless depictions of the vice-president precipitated this.

I arrived at this weekís cartoon concept the old-fashioned way: by sitting around drinking beers with friends. I believe Big Jim was the first to announce his non-binding resolution To Never Drink Again over his first beer in two years, which he drank at Baltimoreís Cross Street Market during Phase I of my week-long birthday celebration. From this premise the cartoon wrote itself.

Our lives are full of non-binding resolutions, but most of us, unlike the Democrats, have too much dignity--or maybe itís just a capacity for embarrassment--to make a solemn, pompous media event out of them. You have to hand it to the Democrats: you knew they would take an unequivocal, purely rhetorical stand against the pointless slaughter in Iraq as soon as they were in power. At last, real leaders with the political will to put a stop to this madness, in theory! As long as weíre making such bold and ambitious non-binding resolutions, who not also non-bindingly resolve to give free health care to all Americans and cut greenhouse emissions and ban handguns and distribute public school funding equally, regardless of the district, and provide free public housing for the homeless and limit the legal rights of corporations? We could have the greatest imaginary country on earth.

Reading all the books on her shelf is my colleague Meganís Non-Binding Resolution. All the books piled on my left in this panel are in fact books I have attempted, or at least seriously intended, to read. (I actually got halfway through The Brothers K.) The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters is a book I recently checked out on a one-week library loan and ripped through while riding the subway. In addition to having a ridiculous title, it is a very silly fantasy novel, consisting of almost nothing but chase scenes, and itís incredibly compelling. I had to return it at the end of a chapter about halfway thorough in which Chang, the blind and flamboyant free-lance enforcer and hit man, pursued by British Dragoons in the employ of an elite and unholy cabal, lowers himself into a pipe leading into the underground inverted tower--a remnant of an abandoned prison--where he believes some unspeakable Process is being carried out. He had just let go and fallen into the darkness, with no idea how far the drop might be, when I had to return it. Heís still hanging there in midair in my head. I have to go back to the Midtown branch to check out another copy this afternoon. Edwin Mullhouse, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, and The Nobility of Failure: Tragic Heroes in the History of Japan will all have to wait.

Panel 3 is for my friends Boyd and Berkeley. The framed original will either be given to them as a wedding present or placed tenderly atop their graves after the murder/suicide.

People keep telling me that there is no way the Bush Administration going to attack Iran. They donít have the credibility or political capital, they say. Even if they wanted to, they donít have the resources. My answer is: when has the Bush administration ever cared about such things? They donít behave like politicians, with half an eye on public opinion or practicality; they act like insane, inbred royalty, like Caligula or Louis XIV or Kim Jong Il. They will continue to do what they have always done: whatever the fuck they want. I promise you they will indeed attack Iran, if only with bombs and cruise missiles, and sooner rather than later. I also promise you they will try, somehow, to hold onto power past January 20, 2008. Sound ridiculous? Never bet against a pessimist.

At my second gala birthday dinner Alex Robinson was telling Megan Kelso and me about a new story heís drawing, which is about a hot barbarian chick killing monsters. Thatís is. Thereís no dialogue. She kills a monster; thereís another monster. At one point her dwarvish sidekick is set on fire by dragonís breath, and you see his charred skeleton through a writhing mass of flames. Alex says it is the most fun heís had drawing since he was twelve years old. He urged us both to do something like this at once, to revivify our joy in our work. This jibes with Meganís perennial suggestion that you should always draw the cartoon you want to draw, not the one you think you should drawósince, after all, having fun and doing whatever the hell you want is one of the only rewards cartooning offers. Alex challenged us each to name the stupid cartoon we secretly wanted to draw. I immediately answered: "Space battles." Megan said, "My stuffed animals in dresses, having adventures." [?!?!] We put our hands together in the center of the table and made a solemn pact. (Well, not all that solemn, actually; we were all laughing, but still, we meant it.) So, next week: The Battle for Sector Zulu: Chapter One!

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