Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 12/26/01

Artist's Statement

This is one of my favorite cartoons I've done lately, because it's not really funny. Or, if it is, it's funny in a heartbreaking sort of way. At least I hope it is. I love and pity the two guys in this drawing. They're (sort of) caricatures of me and my friends as we'll someday look if we turn into aging barflys (as well we may), but they're also guys I've spent eight thousand hours of my life drinking with in the cheap cruddy dives of Baltimore and Harford and Cecil counties. Every depressingly familiar detail is drawn from my own beer-dimmed memory: the chintzy holiday decorations, the ersatz wood wall paneling, the video poker game, the bikini bimbo in the beer ad, the losing Keno cards. Next year isn't going to be a better one for these guys. In fact, the more I look at them, the more I worry that the one on the right (who looks more like me than I'd intended him to) isn't going to make it through this year. The guy on the left's life isn't really any better than his friend's, but he'll be all right, I think, because he has a better attitude about it. I am indebted to Boyd White for the suggestion that this guy should have a pompadour, which instantly defined his character and somehow pulled the entire drawing together. Boyd, looking at the finished drawing, said, "Also, you just know those two guys are the only people in the bar." I'm afraid he's probably right.

Let's all admit it: the holidays are a fucking awful time. It's not just depressed or bereaved people who hate them--everyone does. The only people who really seem to look forward to them are retailers and children, because they're crazy with greed and don't care if they drive the rest of us to the brink of blowing our brains out as long as they can get something out of it. How did this happen to us? I'm certain that if we could just put it to a public referendum we could abolish the holiday season, or least restrict it to once every four years, like those other meaningless vestigial rituals, the Olympics and elections. New Year's Eve isn't as cruel a holiday as Christmas, because you're at least allowed to get drunk with your friends, but it's still an unavoidably melancholy occasion, a memento mori when you can't help but think of the time you've squandered and the opportunities you missed and all that you've lost and how much time you've got left, and really the only way to get through it is to drink until you black out.

Several of my friends have had a hard, sad year this year, lost people they loved in one way or another, and still have a lot of sorrow ahead of them. This cartoon is for them. And it's for the aging barflys in cruddy dives everywhere who'll just be forgotten when they die, even the ones who called me a fag. I really do hope this year will be a better one, my friends. Cheers.