Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 01/28/09

Artist's Statement

The Week Without a Computer was actually a few weeks ago now, but I had to wait for Inauguration to blow over before I could return to more mundane personal themes. Perhaps you, too, have had to go without your computer and experienced the humiliation of realizing how pitifully dependent you have become on this one object. It used to be, long ago, that you had a typewriter and a stereo and a TV/VCR and a daily paper and a set of encyclopedias and maybe a secret stash of Playboys. Now all of these items are contained in one appliance, which is great as a space-saver but proves to be something of an Achilles’ heel when that appliance busts. Then the music stops, there are no more movies or TV episodes or videos of amateur milves, you can’t communicate with anyone, and you realize, now that the illusion of a life has been taken from you, that you are just a guy sitting in an empty silent room with a cat who hates you.

I am not what you'd call a luddite--I am writing this on Dreamweaver software myself--but I did eschew email and cell phones, carrying on correspondence by U.S. Mail and using a rotary-dial phone, for much, much longer than any of my contemporaries. I am reflexively wary of and resistant to new Crap We Do Not Need, for which most U.S. consumers seem so uncritically avid. I also tend to think that technology is inevitably limited by its weakest link, its users. As Douglas Adams liked to say of the Internet, "it's just us." Long-time Pain fans may recall a series of cartoons in my earliest minicomics titled, "Another Miracle of Modern Technology." One of these, split into two panels, showed 1.) a stick-figure man stepping on the another stick-figure man's foot, who said, "Hey" and 2.) the same stick-figure man now driving a complicated steam engine with a gigantic foot mounted on a pile-driver at the front, stomping on the second stick-figure man's foot, who leapt, as best he could, into the air, screaming, "HEY!" And there you pretty much have it. Computers enable us to read messages from total strangers on the other side of the world telling us that we suck, to exchange thoughts and opinions with people we'd avoid eye contact with at the bus stop, to see videos of fat kids falling down and stoic models trying not to flinch as some guy ejaculates into their eye.

The telepathic message I usually send to my friend Carolyn is that it is 2:37, or that the number 237 has come up in some other way. This number--which is the number of the forbidden hotel room in the Overlook in Kubrick’s film version of The Shining--is an uncanny number that’s haunted both Carolyn and myself ever since a road trip we took across the country a few years ago. “Mahalo” is a Hawaiian word that she and I both know well from our years of habitual listening to the call-in radio show Loveline and which did in fact appear in the New York Times Saturday crossword some months ago.

Thanks to Sarah Glidden, who got “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” stuck in my head while we were trapped in a vast immobile crowd on Inauguration Day. She attempted to replace it with the equally unwelcome “O-ba-ma” song sung by the inhabitants of Obama, Japan.

Panel #3: This is how it was in the old days. Adam Carolla, formerly co-host of Loveline, would periodically launch into a diatribe about how The Kids Today Don’t Know How Good They Have It, porn-wise, which would inevitably culminate in his working himself into a towering apoplexy of self-pity over the story of how he was forced to masturbate to a photo of a girl in a swimsuit on the side of a cardboard box for an inflatable pool raft. They were hard times. That’s the Venus of Willendorf, one of the earliest extant human artifacts. In art history tests it is euphemistically referred to as a “fertility figure.”

RE Panel #4: For the record, Boyd is totally correct. I would like to state that I did not believe for one second that Danger: Diabolik was made by José Marins, a.k.a. Joe Coffin, but someone had to be wrong, and I did want to include the amazing title This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse, and I was, believe it or not, coming up blank for dumb pop-cultural controversies. Boyd and I just watched Danger: Diabolik, which I understand was the subject of MST3000’s last episode, but which is some sort of crazy apotheosis of 1960s Italian comic-book mod design that deserves to be enjoyed on its own batshit terms rather than hiply ridiculed. It should be seen, if for nothing else, for Diabolik’s gigantic circular rotating bed covered with money. And for bombshell Marisa Mell, who plays Diabolik’s faithful girlfriend/accomplice. They are crazy in love.

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