A Note from the Artist

I'm going to start restructuring the Pain website. Don't worry; work on this process will not be rapid. Since I'm no longer drawing cartoons on a weekly deadline, I've decided to feature an old Pain cartoon on the main page each week, culled from my vast backlog of drawings, mostly predating the creation of the website and my shift to political cartooning in 2000. Most of these have never been posted online and will be familiar only to readers from back in The Day who have my first book collection or the rare Pain minicomics. They were drawn by a younger, drunker, angrier, unhappier, and much funnier me, of whom I remain enormously fond. I hope you'll enjoy them.

I will still occasionally be drawing new cartoons, on more or less the same strict three-or-four-a-year-depending-on-how-often-I-get-really-peeved-about-something regimen I've been keeping up since officially retiring in 2009. New cartoons will be added to the archives after I post them.


Pain news:

Please consider contributing to a kickstarter fund for a project to revive print newspaper comics. My good friend and colleague Tom Hart is one of the cartoonists whose strip will be included in this free paper to be distributed in coffee shops.

I have a new essay on the Marina Abramoviç show at MoMA posted on Nerve.com and a review of Al Columbia's first book on The Comics Journal's website.

My next collection of political cartoons, Twilight of the Assholes (or: Somebody Stop the Spike Machine!), will be released by Fantagraphics this fall (or winter, more likely, knowing them).

My collection of essays (including some cartoons), We Learn Nothing, is scheduled to be published by Free Press at Simon & Schuster in 2012.



Our Featured Cartoon


"Flag Boy" (1994)

Each year around this time, when I see groups of guys in dress whites staggering through the streets of Manhattan, I realize, It's Fleet Week!, and it gives me a happy, familiar feeling of continuity, a contented sense of the cycle of life. It means I've spent another year in New York City. It's one of those annual events whose date you never remember until it comes around again, like when The Wizard of Oz used to air on TV once a year.

Similarly, each year on June 14th I get emails and voice mail messages from far-flung friends all around the world. One of them is always from my friend Jenny Boylan. At first, there is silence. Then I hear that unmistakable, high-pitched, querulous voice asking: "Is it-- is it really here?" And then begins the crazed and hysterical medley of patriotic songs: "It's a Grand Old Flag," "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy," etc. And I know that it is Flag Day.

Flag Boy was conceived one day over sixteen years ago when my friend John Quinn and I were wandering through the streets of Philadelphia, horribly hung over as always, in search of grapefruit. We came across a scene of festive commotion: a little brick courtyard filled with schoolchildren all waving little American flags. A man in uniform stood to one side, prepared to address them. John and I approached a woman who seemed to be there in some official capacity, a guide or chaperone. "What's going on?" we asked her. "Something in honor of the flag," she explained. "In honor of the flag?" we asked. She just looked at us. "It's Flag Day," she said.

Flag Day. It was one of those childhood holidays you forget about as an adult, like Arbor Day. And then we realized that not only was it Flag Day but that the little courtyard we were looking at was the courtyard of Betsy Ross's House. We were at the Ground Zero of Flag Day. We were like two clueless tourists stumbling into Times Square at 11:43 on December 31st asking folks, Hey what's the big to-do?

What happened next is kind of hard to explain now that I don't drink so much anymore. Basically, I was possessed by the spirit of Flag Boy. I ran through the streets frantically waving my little flag (the Betsy Ross House lady was handing them out), weeping with laughter and screaming, "It's Flag Day! Happy Flag Day, everybody! Let every day be Flag Day in your hearts! O, happy, happy Flag Daaaaay!" The cartoon appeared shortly thereafter.

For some unknown reason this cartoon took on a life of its own. Everyone loved F[l]ag Boy. He was the Waminals© of his day. I did a few follow-up doodles, like "Flag Boy: The Day After":



and the unspeakably poignant "Flag Boy: The Other 364 Days"



He also made occasional cameos in other cartoons, like this one from "When Will You Flee the Country?":



I even re-drew a more polished version of the original cartoon for an Patriotism-themed special issue of The Comics Journal (see below), but for unpatriotic reasons of their own they never ran it. I made a cardboard F[l]ag Boy for one of my infamous 4th of July Parties who hung around for several years, appearing in various ceremonial contexts, until my friend Sally, in whose care (so to speak) I'd foolishly entrusted him, lost him. And each year people would call me and email to wish me a happy Flag Day. The number of messages has trailed off over the years since then, but I still get a few each June 14th, reminding me of the deranged and hilarious youth we all shared, and of the honor due to The Flag.


Respect The Flag!,

Tim Kreider, Flag Day, 2010





BACK TO The Pain Homepage