Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
This cartoon was basically dictated to me by Aaron Long, depicted in “Back to Funny Cartoons" (26 January 2005), a frequent collaborator and humor consultant. Aaron’s been pestering me to draw this for weeks now. His original conception was titled “Nigga vs. Biotch,” and I said, in effect, ha ha, yeah, I get it, pretty funny, I’m not drawing that. (Especially not on the heels of the forbidden Obama panel.) He offered a number of elaborations and refinements of this idea until finally he hit upon a version I was not afraid to draw, in which the potentially-misconstruable-as-offending line was rendered, as my friend Carolyn and I say, in vox persona.*
The clincher came when Aaron, who is good with numbers, agreed to do my taxes, an ordeal so hopelessly confounding to me that last year it defeated me entirely. We shook hands over this exchange in a coffee shop in Seattle. The happiest deals are struck when both parties walk away thinking: sucker!
Aaron reports that he is well satisfied with this cartoon, and I hope you readers are, too. The tattoo and Presidential seal medallion were my own touches. My colleague Megan, who is kinder and more reasonable than I, questioned my dressing Hillary in teen skankwear, arguing that it didn't say anything about her character and just seemed like making cheap fun of her being an older woman. But, as always happens in these discussions, humor trumped any considerations of decency or personal dignity. Before I hit upon the idea of Hillary’s American eagle tattoo, I did some research on tattoo motifs. Google image search is an indispensable reference tool for the lazy cartoonist, but it is also a Pandora’s Box of troubling imagery which, once seared into the visual memory, proves ineradicable. The very first image to come up when you search for the phrase “tramp stamp” (slang term for those sacral tattoos that make such tempting bull's eyes) is a photo of a woman whose entire lower back, from waist to buttocks, is inscribed, in calligraphic script, with the unabridged text of First Corinthians 13, that verse tiresomely recited at weddings. It's a big block of text. As with the phenomenon of Christian swingers, the confluence of what you’d think would be incompatible ethics (and aesthetics) implied by this image is boggling to consider. Would this tattoo be an erection-wilting distraction, or kind of an evil turn-on? It’s hard—for me, at least---not to imagine pounding away at this woman while looking down and pondering this verse, possibly with a wedding dress hiked up above it… Wait---why am I telling you this?
By the time you see this cartoon, of course, it may be obsolete. I’m writing this on the Tuesday of the Ohio and Texas primaries, which are likely to determine whether Hillary Clinton remains in the race. This is the first time I can remember when I’m going to feel kind of bad for whoever loses a primary. Ideologically I revile Hillary for her war vote and will feel that her defeat is a rare instance of political justice. And yet I can’t help but feel kind of sorry for her. Six months ago her nomination seemed a foregone conclusion. Now it’s all but slipped from her grasp. She’s been dumped in favor of this, this whippersnapper. It’s totally unfair; people just like him better. I’ve never been sure whether this helpless gut empathy I feel even for politicians as eminently despicable as Bush and Nixon is an embarrassing weakness, or evidence of my best and most humane instincts refusing to be governed by dogma. All I know is it leaves me feeling stupidly sorry for everybody no matter what happens.
Still, a deal’s a deal, and those taxes aren’t doing themselves. Aaron’s still bothering me to draw an elaborate magazine parody called “President Fancy.”
*Indispensable Latin coinage meaning “spoken in another person’s or character’s voice,” handy in weaseling out of many a misunderstanding or ill-considered joke.