Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 4/04/07

Artist's Statement

Announcements: readers are urged to follow my colleague Megan Kelsoís comic "Watergate Sue," currently being serialized in the New York Times magazine. The first chapter appeared on Sunday April first; the story will run over the next twenty-four weeks.

I will be appearing on Minnesota Public Radio on Friday April sixth, at 8 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, talking about war cartoons.

The underlying theme of this weekís cartoon is: not giving a shit. This theme was inextricable from my process, hence the hasty drawings and three panels instead of the conventional four. It was one of those weeks I had a hard time either caring about politics or getting motivated to draw a cartoon. (Luckily it looks like soon Iíll be able to start recycling my old cartoons from 2002 on; all Iíll have to do is replace the word "Iraq" with "Iran.") I figure, only crises ever spur institutions to action, so letís just all drive around in SUVs with the heat and the AC blasting and the windows down and burn through the last of these fossil fuels so theyíll have to start investing in photovoltaics. A few weeks ago I tried to read up on the differences between Sunnis and Shiites, and gave up after about four minutes, defeated by their impenetrable triviality and irrelevance. It was like trying to differentiate between Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock, who as far as I can tell are identical. Itís like: who cares? They both suck. I tried to come up with a fourth panel about my choice for the í08 election, but even in jest I canít bring myself to give a shit about that yet.

My heart was really only in the last panel. Walking around the West Village last Friday night, the evil Ben Walker and I realized that we not only had more fun but were more fun back when we were younger and drank much more, back in the Golden Age when he lived in his subterranean Phantom-of-the-Opera apartment in Brookline and Iíd visit from Baltimore and weíd rove around Boston on the T, eating gyro meat and eggs at Greek diners, reading the collected Dick Tracy, hanging out in now-vanished bars like Hankís, hatching plans to make ourselves trillionaires, drinking whiskey out of paper bags and ogling beautiful girls on the Commons. Of course we never actually accomplished anything back then, and had yet to realize that fun is often a poor substitute for happiness. But has having less fun made us any happier? And what good has accomplishing anything done? Seriously? What Ben and I do (my cartoon, his radio show) is appreciated by some tens of people; if we were to quit tomorrow, a handful of people would be bummed out for one day and then move on to the next thing on the internet. And even if, say, our works were beloved for generations after our deaths--which they wonít be--what difference would that make to us? Achievement is for losers. Productivity is a waste of time. Was Shakespeare or Beethoven or Newton really any happier than a heroin addict with no worries about his supply? So Ben and I resolved that, just as we made last June a month of sobriety, we would make this June a month of immoderation: at least two drinks per day, on off days, but usually more like five or six. That way we can compare and contrast in a well-informed manner.

Admittedly, I am feeling a little futilitarian about all human endeavor because I just spent several months working on a piece of writing that it looks like nobody is going to publish. When are some of you losers who read my cartoons and artistís statements every week going to rise to positions of power and influence from which you can start paying me money and making me famous? Why donít you guys get off your asses and take some concrete steps toward becoming agents and editors and publishers? What the hell do you do all day, anyway? Is anyone in this country actually doing anything besides forwarding internet jokes and downloading porn? No wonder America is going down the crapper. Weíre making new episodes of Star Trek: the Original Series [] while, in real life, the Chinese are going to the moon.

But anyway now my cartoon is turned in and I donít have to worry about the next one for days and days. Iím writing this artistís statement in Seattle, on my friend Carolynís couch with Carolyn and Aaron, watching an episode of "Land of the Lost" written by Larry Niven, which contains both an apologia for the Confederacy and educational information about hallucinogenic mushrooms. Tonight, cocktails and oysters with my evil friend Liz, and then a Spelling Bee.


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