Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 11/21/07

Artist's Statement

It was at the insistence of Mr. Kreider that I drew it it. Personally, I would not be ungracious to my host country. Except for my stay in New York, I did not see it at its best, merely M. Kreider's not-to-be-disclosed location in the most rural areas of the East, known as "The Stick."

It is to my horror that I observed for the first time the young people of America drinking to the point of futility. I have often seen them to behave in this way abroad, in Europe, but I give them "the benefit of the doubt" on the assumption that such shameful conduct is an overabundnace of enthusiasm caused by the spirit of holiday. But I saw that this hasty and terrifying drinking, which I previously associated only with late alcoholism, is the normal Friday night between them. They drink to the point of vomiting, and they suffer from amnesia and aphasia, they can not walk without overturning, and still get back to drink more. The girls excitedly expose their breasts to the delighted hoots as if all breasts, like alcohol, are a thrilling and unprecedented novelty in this country. All cry courting repeatedly and at length. It is to be pitied by those better than me, but for me it is just disgusting, and depressing.

The obsequiousness of the registrars is particularly grating. Here they host in a manner informal and familiar, and sometimes share a surname with you, but I learned that there were no plans for that. Often they are investigating the health or welfare, a survey that does not make sense as the only acceptable response is, "fine." On one occasion, I am greeted by a French saleswoman in a clothing store who asked me how I am and when I reply "Fine" in American English, she turns to the time involved and said in French, "As if I care how it is." Thus, the ovious lie is exposed explicitly.

The "balloon of thought" contains a vulgarity in my mother tongue. It must be excused.

In the third panel, I depict myself besieged by the flags as axes. I was shocked to see so many flags when I came here. Not in Hungary, neither in Italy nor in France, is it so much -- there it is only on municipal buildings. But here they are flying everywhere, on libraries and museums and schools and stadiums and places of business and private residences, as they are sold as stickers for cars and refrigerators and decorations and on "T-shirts" and caps and jackets and tattoos. I do not know how they can look to Americans, but abroad, they are frightening, gestures of defiance and hostility, like the angry boasts of the drunken braggart. If I can be forgiven for observation, it is only a weak and pathetic man, a coward, who needs to boast of his prowess at himself.

Unfortunately for Mr. Kreider and his cat, he is only the most humorous example of this trend, seen everywhere in the country. In particular among people wthout children, the love of animals is like a mental illness. They address them in cooing voices of parents with many endearments, treacly and cloying. They greedily purchase clothing and accessories for the animals, traveling with them in the car, they bring them uninvited to social events. I am amazed to see women in New York, carrying small tremulous dogs in their bag. It is a symptom of excessive wealth and profound loneliness, perhaps the most characteristic and the definition of the syndrome of Americans, that fat and unhappy country.

I thank readers for their many compliments and correspondence. It has been both a privilege and a challenge to aid this complicated and brilliant man and to live in this country complex and surprising. Let us now return to my own house more fortunate of the world, the city of Paris, to devote my efforts to my own talent and pursue my own projects. I leave you with



I hope none of my readers will hold this cartoon against Ms. C.-H.; it was I who urged her to draw her least favorite things about America, despite her misgivings about appearing ungracious. Ms. C.-H., being born into old aristocracy, has exquisite continental manners at her disposal but can also be hilariously voluble on the subject of American culture after a couple of Pernods. Her perspctive on this country as an outsider is invaluable to me; for example, I'd always thought of the familiarity of service personnel and the violent binge drinking of young adults as regrettable but inevitable aspects of life in general, not defects peculiar to this country. And I'd never noticed how scarily ubiquitous the American flag is here until Ms. C.-H. pointed it out to me (she invariably refers to it as "the bloody Republican banner of the U.S."). It was because of this that I realized that the violent nationalism so rampant here is not a feature common to most countries. You tend to see jingoist fervor, and the corollary fear and hatred of foreign enemies, fostered as distractions by despotic governments in countries with crappy economies, like North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan--and, of course, here. As for Ms. C.-H.'s last panel, I will say only that it disappoints me to see her violate the sacred trust between mentor and intern by betraying confidences gleaned in a professional environment in such an indiscreet manner. And it wounds me personally to be depicted in such an unflattering light. But of course it would be beneath me to censor her.

This will likely be Ms. C.-H.'s last contribution to the website. We say farewell to Ms. Phelætia Czochula-Hautpänz this week as she returns to Paris, where she will finish her much-awaited graphicc novel, The Cat of the Man Who Did Not Love Anything. I know tat readers will miss her crytic replies to their mail, een as I will miss her effortless comptence, her critical, editoral, and administrative acumen, her erudition and breeding, and, not least, her forbearance in adapting to her employer's self-defeating work habits and mercurial temperament. Also I will say, in what may be a breach of professional etiquete in allegiance to a higher truth, that she is by far the hottest piece of ass in the entire field of cartooning on either side of the Atlantic. I wish her well in all her future endeavors.

By the way, those readers who saw only the cruddy low-resolution .tif file of last week's cartoon should take another look at it in the archives; it has been replaced with an eye- soothing jpeg.

BACK TO The Pain Homepage

Webmaster's Disclaimer