November 2007

4 November 2007

Miss Hautpanz,

It appears today that some of Tim's nightmares of martial law are not too far from reality (I always think of the Back to Funny Cartoons strip).

Several of Tim's strips feature the President claiming total political power "for the duration of th' emergency". Well, it looks like EXACTLY that is happening in Pakistan. Musharraf's dismissed the constitution, cracked down on opposition, and imposed martial law. I think that this has caused the US government to finally come to the realization that supporting a country that is a military dictatorship is not good P.R.

Meanwhile, in "Amurr-ca", the House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1955...a bill with the ridiculously Orwellian title "The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention bill". The bill basically is amending the Homeland Security Act to include the establishing of an institution focusing solely on determining what groups or ideologies are a threat to homeland security (paraphrase of words: "...the use of force or violence with political or ideological goals..."). That wording is so vague that it could apply to the "Raging Grannies". It's possible that, should this bill become law, that a good deal of people like you and Tim and me could be taking a long vacation to Cuba...or worse. I mean, shit--I know for a fact that my 4th grade teacher (a pacifist Quaker with Veterans for Peace and others) has already been under Fed surveillance for quite some time (as an "enemy of the state"). Hell, I'm a Wobbly (Industrial Workers of the World), an anarcho-syndicalist, AND an editor of a radical student 'zine--there's no doubt that I might somehow be implicated by this bill. Who knows? You and Tim might also be deemed as "inciting political violence" someday.
I'm not usually one to attempt futile measures like writing to congressmen/senators. They don't listen to people who don't have a lot of money, or perhaps a feeding tube. But this time, I may make an exception, which shows the extent to which I am concerned (to the I-will-shit-my-pants-with-fear degree) about the implications of this bill and the possibility of the government FINALLY achieving their dreams of imposing martial law.

Well, I wish the best for the both of you--keep doing what you do. It makes me laugh, and it makes me think.

Peace, Love, Beer, Happiness, Smoke Weed, Brotherhood etc. etc. etc.,

-Mike Kowalski
(San Diego)

Mike Kowalski,

Hm, well, to tell you the truth, I'm not sure how to take this news. On the one hand, I tend to mistrust all conspiratorial thinking, and regard this sort of oh-my-God-this-is-it-the-jackbooted-thugs-are-coming-after-me-at-last-because-of-my-blog alarmism as the left-wing equivalent of hysterical right-wing fantasies that a liberal President is going to confiscate all their guns or outlaw the Bible or hand America over to the Islamofascists. (cf. Jean-Francoise Revel's dry observation that "the dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.") On the other hand, law enforcement has never granted itself any new power that it hasn't abused. And it does seem that governments around the world are using terrorism as an excuse to claim more centralized power and gain more control over their citizens' lives and privacy. I myself prefer to err on the side of vigilance rather than complacency, even if it verges on paranoia. Nonetheless I will probably continue blithely drawing my cartoon in my New York apartment rather than a fortified compound in Idaho, until the inevitable day when the jackbooted thugs finally bust down my door.



8 November 2007

Dear Ms. Czochula-Hautpänz,

Regarding Mr.Kreider’s decision to move to New York City: From The Pain, When Will It End? I got the impression that he was a lonely, struggling artist in his early 40’s, unlikely to ever secure a real career or have a successful long term relationship. If this is true, how the hell can he afford to live in NYC?

I find Ann Arbor, MI stiflingly expensive and yet it is as the tiniest, invisible-to-the-naked-eye, satellite compared to the supernova of costliness that is NYC.

P.S. I would think that Remembrance Day would provide some inspiration, or dread, for a topic next week.

Scott Hamm,

Your impression of me is, as far as it goes, more or less accurate. The short answer to your question is: I can't. I have enough money that I could afford to live without a real job as long as I resided at least part-time in my rent-free cabin at the Undisclosed Location, but now that I've made the official move to New York City, where it costs $100 just to leave your apartment, I will have to secure some sort of income. What anyone would pay me to do I honestly cannot imagine. What do people do? I have no idea. Suggestions, leads, and job offers are welcome.



14 November 2007

Ms. C.-H:

Please inquire of Mr. Kreider the following:
" What will you do when they declare Martial Law?" (or possibly "What will you do when they invoke NSPD 51?")

My best ideas:

1.) Drive down to 1600 Pennsylvania with a huge stereo and blast Guns and Roses until they give in. (Used on Noriega, albeit unsuccessfully.)
2.) Move to Havana and pressure Zombie Castro to invade. It is possible that Robot Castro is a funnier image; as I am not a professional humorist, I do not have to make these pressure-cooker decisions.

The rest are all semi-rational notions, such as "Get the hell out of here," and "Autodefenestration". I feel that the latter could be taken to mean either "to throw myself out a window", or, "to be thrown from a moving car"; either is appropriate. I am highly appreciative of Mr. Kreider's work and would not be annoyed in a litigous manner if this concept is committed to comic form by him. Please pass along my regard for his work as well as the inquiry.



You're the second reader his month who's written me about martial law. Do you guys know something I don't?

Since you wrote your letter your idea of Zombie Castro has taken on new life (no pun intended). And I do like the idea of laying siege to the White House and torturing Bush with rock and roll... though it's possible George wouldn't mind Guns 'n' Roses. Not sure what musical anathema to him would be as GNR et al was to Noriega. Hip-hop? The Grateful Dead? (Though the evil Ann Coulter is a huge Deadhead, so who knows.) I may yet steal your idea of polling various characters for their post-fascism/collapse-of-civilization/apocalypse contingencies, if you don't mind.



15 November 2007

Dear Tim

The idea of a Muslim death robot makes me, a lover of giant robots evil & kind, cackles with deep ferocity. But much like Godzilla has his Mechagodzilla, who does the West roll out against the Jihadist mecha? I'm betting on a 200 ft. tall Karl Rove with ultra-flashy exploding head action, a la the AT-ST in "Jedi".

Jess Morgan

Jess Morgan,

Glad you liked the Muslim death robot. I myself was somewhat proud of that panel. Not sure what the American analog would be... I fear the Muslims do not share our cultural fear and hatred of Karl Rove. Perhaps a giant robot Abe Lincoln? Giant robot Jesus? Giant robot Pamela Anderson?



15 November 2007

I've been reading your comics for a year and I love your approach. You really push the limits of whats acceptable and appropriate, which is something a lot of published cartoonists don't do. I first saw it in the Washington City Paper, and although it no longer appears there, I do read it online. Too bad it's not in the paper anymore, it was the best one. I don't really mean to be so doting. I don't exactly know what I want to write to you about. I'm assuming you're simply like me and enjoy feedback on your work that isn't: "Hey, that's sorta funny. But you
should really do a comic about..."

And of course it would be much better for this to be coming from some guy like Ware or Clowes, but far more people are shmucks like me than guys like them. Oh, I know what I wanted to say now. I figured since I like reading your comics, maybe you'd like reading mine. The artwork isn't professional (I was never actually taught how to make comics), but
some of the humor is up your alley. And hey, if you don't care for em, that's fine too. I'm not begging for feedback and I certainly don't want to pump you for an endorsement. Just, you know, maybe you'll laugh:

And C.H. I like your shit too. Writing humor in a second language is near impossible I think. I'm impressed.

- Jason


Please accept my apologies for having let nearly five million years elapse before replying to your letter of November 15th. Since Ms. C.-H. returned to Europe I have failed to keep on top of the mail situation. I am only now getting around to answering November's letters because I am laid up with the flu and on powerful medications. I feel I owe you an especially abject apology because I know how demoralizing it is to offer your work to anyone at all--let alone someone whose work you respect--and hear nothing at all in response. It just feels lousy. Sorry.

Now I know you weren't looking for a lot of feedback but I took the liberty of giving you some anyway, partly as a courtesy from an older cartoonist to a younger one and partly just as reparations for my tardiness. But if, like me, you can't bear even the most gentle and well-intentioned criticism, just skip to the end of this email.

Well, I did like your comics, Jason. The first line that made me laugh was, "Oh God I saw up his dress." And I laughed again at the drawing of the guy sketching his girlfriend as a stick figure. And "I can see down your friend's shirt! Thought bubbles rule!" is amazing. It makes me wonder why I never thought of this (in comics, or in real life). At times your work comes across as too bitter and didactic to be quite funny (I'm thinking of that guide to parenting, which is a heavy-handed guide to your own horrible childhood). These are the ones that make the reader cringe instead of laugh. I think you already know that and don't care (since you go out of your way not to apologize for it in the one strip that ends with the forlorn non-punchline, "I can't wait"). You don't always feel like bothering to filter your experiences through art. And not all art should be funny. But I do prefer the strips that illustrate the point you're making rather than just explicating them (like the flashback to the wimpy caveman guiltily watching his baby devoured by a bear). And, of course, like most people, I'd rather laugh than cringe.

[some boring criticism deleted here]

Don't get me wrong--I'm not telling you to Lighten Up or anything. I like the intensely personal aspect of your work and the deeply mordant, pessimistic sense of humor. As with my own website, there's interplay between the comics and the accompanying commentary that's pretty fascinating (I read through a lot of your archives). I'd be kind of interested in seeing you draw longer stories that would tell some of the behind-the-scenes stories you describe in your notes, but then this is the kind of thing people are always saying to me and I know how useless it is to try to tell an artist what to do next.

Do you know Ivan Brunetti's "Schizo"? I'd recommend it to you. Ivan's angry and depressed and has Issues with Women and he drew three issues of a hilarious comic boook about it, stilll available through Fantagraphics. (Since those first three issues he's discovered Buddhism and is less depressed and now draws in a completely different style and is, to my mind, a much less interesting artist, but no longer being suicidal is probably worth it to him.)
Also, maybe you ought to read some evolutionary psychology, like Steven Pinker, or Matt Ridgley's
The Red Queen. It might turn the mysterious and perverse interactions between the sexes into an object of understanding for you instead of bewilderment and despair. Won't necessarily help you with the ladies, though.

I hope you'll stick with the cartooning, Jason--or, if not comics, than some sort of expressive art--because you do seem to have the temperament for it (my condolences). I like to see someone putting his whole self into his work, not just trying to put out some product that'll sell. (I myself suck at self-promotion and al that real-world stuff, and as a result am in only one alternative weekly, making $20 a week. So I have no advice on this front to give you.) And what the hell, it's better than killing yourself.

I hope this constructive criticism is not presumptuous and won't be unwelcome. I will offer you one piece of unsolicited personal advice: you should get out of sales. You will be much happier. Or at least less unhappy.


P.S. F.Y.I., Van Gogh was not popular with the ladies.


24 November 2007

Dear Ms. Hautpanz,

The smaller and finer lettering in the first panel of your latest comic was severely mangled in its transfer between media. When I set out to satisfy my curiosity as to the definition of the word in the thought bubble, I misread the 'u' as an 'o,' and was baffled to see that Wiktionary (Wikipedia's interlingual dictionary) returned the information that it was the Finnish word for 'ear.' A few seconds' deduction sufficed to correct my mistaken impression.

In the future, write a little larger.

Sincerely, Scott Stiefel


Ironic that I only get around to answering your email after answering your postcard, which was sent nearly five months later. Since Ms. C.-H. left I have not kept on top of the administrative details around here. Glad you were finally able to translate her Hungarian.



24 November 2007

I stumbled upon your cartoons and I think they put America in a bad light.I love these United States.

It would be a better place if your cartoons were less likely to tear it down or try to make people feel bad about important events.

Can you think of things you like about AMERICA???

Think on what you can do for this nation, not in the ways you what to slam it around.

please, it is time to grow up.



I think the things I love about America are not things you would appreciate
or understand. Such as the fact that I am free to draw my cartoons and you
are free to think I am an asshole. As one American to another, I agree: it's
a great country.

Tim Kreider

Hi Tim,

Thanks for your reply.

OK, I too love that you are free to draw cartoons and I do think you are one of those assholes. I do appreciate and understand these things.

Lets help others learn to love.

Aristotle's quote for 11-27-07 is...
Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.