Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 1/16/02

Artist's Statement

Saturday night I was having dinner with friends, several fellow-cartoonists and a writer among them, and I begged them for help coming up with a funny caption for that same damn political cartoon I was working on last week--you know, the group caricature of George Bush and his masters. The drawing's closer to being finished, but it's still not quite funny enough to print. The group came up with a few good ideas--"The Amazing Bobo" was my favorite--although none of them was exactly right. We got to talking about how difficult it is to take any kind of unequivocal stand on this "War on Terrorism," much less draw political cartoons about it. Megan Kelso, author of Queen of the Black Black and the forthcoming Artichoke Tales (which are about war, among other things), said that she didn't think she could wholeheartedly join in a march or rally for "peace" at this point, although she's also hardly the type to paste an American flag decal on her window and support whatever John Ashcroft says is right. It may be worth mentioning that this exchange of ideas was taking place in an Afghan restaurant. We all agreed that it's a hard time to be ambivalent or conflicted. Thoughftul, modulated voices tend to get drowned out or ignored in debate--especially in the media, which invariably seeks out the most simplistic, sensational sound bite from either extreme of the political spectrum (represented in this cartoon by the dewy-eyed hippie chick on the Left and the beefy crewcut guy on the Right). The problem, I decided, is that my opionion doesn't fit on a sign. Which everyone present immediately recognized would make a better cartoon than the one I'd asked for help with. (At least the idea was better--if it fails in execution, that's all to my credit.) So let me just take this opportunity to publicly thank all those in attendance at that dinner, some of whom have deadlines far more crushing and dreadful than mine, for listening patiently to all my anxiously fretting and griping about my cartoons and for graciously letting me steal their ideas, not just on that occasion but pretty much every single week.

It is not really necessary to read to the bottom of all the fine print in the sign, by the way, or to absorb all my crackpot political views; the joke's just that it makes for such an unweildy slogan. And let me suggest that if your own political views can be made to fit on a sign you may not be all that smart. Last night on the subway platform I was peering over a girl's shoulder at a paper she was studying that proved to be a list of "talking points," prepackaged rhetorical tactics to memorize, rehearse, and use in public debate with officials about abortion. I couldn't tell, from that cursory glance, whether she was with the anti-choice or pro-death factions (from her fairly hip, alternative dress and general attractiveness I'd guess the latter), but either way it made me feel sort of queasy and revolted at the thought of joining any organization where they hand you your ideas on pre-printed sheets and tell you what to say and how to say it. There's nothing wrong with learning from people who've given an issue more study and thought than you, but if you're just going to think exactly what they think and parrot what they say, what the hell's the point of you?