Here I am being interviewed on Days of Revolt with Chris Hedges, whose genius of spirit and radicalizing brilliance I have long loved and admired. And just to give you a heads-up, I may have compared myself favorably to Jesus at some point during our discussion. I blame my puny breakfast, the hot lights and the completely unfounded sense of indestructibility coming off my brand new tie clip. Dig it.
Another chance to see Mr. Fish do his act with scarfs, doves, flames, ladies and saws! Meet him at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena on Monday, October 5th at 7:30pm. The event is free and there’s a money back guarantee for those too cheap to pay attention. Dig it.
If you’re in the Los Angeles area on Saturday, October 3rd, and you need something to do after lunch and before dinner alone with your cats, swing by Bergamot Station in Santa Monica at 4pm. Besides getting to see me going on and on about this and that with famed curmudgeon and radically influential and downright essential journalist, Robert Scheer, a test screening of the new Mr. Fish documentary, MR. FISH: Cartooning from the Deep End, will be shown. I’ll also be signing my new book, WARNING! Graphic Content. Dig it.
Well, it’s finally here! For those of you who waited so patiently for a version of my new book, WARNING! Graphic Content, to be published non-virtually as something with pages, heft and scent, that you could hold and caress and set out proudly on your coffee table next to Natural Harvest: A Collection of Semen-Based Recipes by Paul ‘Fotie’ Photenhauer and Extraordinary Chickens by Stephen Green-Armytage, the trio of titles calmly murmuring to onlookers in a voice bordering on an incoherent whisper, “I’m desperate for love – now where’s that bone saw, shovel and rope…?”
Anyway, the new version is a 2nd edition and contains more images and written content than were included with the electronic version. It is also massive in size and, because it is published by a leading academic press and has beautiful color reproductions, it is also a tad pricey compared to what is typically available from a commercial press. That said, it is guaranteed to make you whip smart and irresistible to anybody previously turned off by the notion that they could love you just for your body.
So buy the book and help a brother out by reviewing it on Amazon! I’ve gotten a gut crapload (Amish phrase meaning motherfucking shitload) of positive emails and reviews from readers and critics but only open-mouthed gaping on Amazon, as if staring at something patently offensive will shame it into being less so – it won’t. Say something, for Yuck is not a 4-letter turd. Dig it.
Here is a long interview I did for the world-famous Henry Jenkins’ brainiac blog, Confessions of an Aca-Fan. The conversation will be posted in three parts. Apologies for not posting any cartoons recently, by the way. I’m currently teaching at the University of Pennsylvania and simultaneously trying to get all the pre-production done on a graphic novel that I’m hoping will, once published, become as world renown and influential as Blow Pops and smallpox. That said, I’ll be back to the drawing board soon, yo. Onward!
Here is the write up of my new book, WARNING! Graphic Content, in PRINT Magazine, which I’ve been a fan of ever since I was a wee lass living in the wilds of New Jersey with scabs on my knees and hollyhocks in my hair and broken dreams balled up and shrieking in my widdle stinky fists. A lovely honor, indeed! Dig it.
Let me begin by saying that anyone incapable of interpreting the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris today as anything but a cruel and meaningless act of mass murder deserves neither my respect nor deference.
To suggest, as some in the media – particularly those arguing from the right wing – have over the last several hours (or the last several years, if you want to include the calls for self-censorship from artists surrounding the violence inspired by the 2005 Danish Muhammad/Jyllands-Posten controversy), that the targeting and killing of editors and cartoonists at a satire magazine is indeed a tragic event, but one that is an inevitable consequence for those stupid enough to antagonize reactionary extremists, is overly simplistic, offensive and contrary to the purpose and promise of free speech and open democracy.
Expressing an opinion with the point of a pencil leveled against a piece of parchment should in no way justify the point of a propelled bullet or bayonet leveled against living flesh as a reasonable response under any circumstance. Specifically, exercising one’s artistic prerogative to create a drawing that is critical or demeaning of an established religion or political ideology should never be construed to equate with kicking a hornet’s nest, which it has been, over and over and over again – for centuries, in fact! – as if art-making were a form of telekinesis capable of physically threatening life and limb.
Instead, art, like every other form of commentary, should equate with the voicing of an opinion, nothing more, even when that opinion is derogatory enough to piss people off by suggesting that there is not – nor will there ever be – a single favorite color that everybody must bow down to and claim as the best and prettiest in the universe. This is equally true for those who demand mindless allegiance, not just to extreme interpretations of the Koran, but to the Bible, any new iteration of the John Birch Society or The Wall Street Journal.
To quote my hero, Lenny Bruce: Knowledge of syphilis is not instruction to get it. Likewise, knowledge of an opposing point of view is not instruction to eradicate it—nor embrace it.
Of course, an additional point can be made in light of the Charlie Hebdo massacre regarding the place of the editorial cartoonist in contemporary society, particularly in the United States. While there exists near-universal condemnation of the killings from the overwhelming majority of news outlets reporting on the subject, there is absolutely no acknowledgment of precisely how little support or tolerance contemporary culture has given to the profession as a whole.
To cite a report released by the Herblock Foundation in 2012, at the beginning of the 20th century there existed approximated 2,000 full-time staff cartoonists employed by news organizations across the country. In 2012 there were fewer than 40, and conservative estimates suggest there are less than 20 today—surely a blow to free speech of epic proportions.
The significance of those numbers might best be understood when compared to the dwindling numbers of an endangered species, not unlike the polar bear, who draws worldwide sympathy primarily when pictured drifting forlorn and alone on a shrinking block of ice or lying skinless and butchered by mindless thugs on a crimson bank. Likewise, it should be noted with some urgency that something systemic in the culture (similar to global warming, corporately inspired, government subsidized and willfully ignored by a disempowered public) is substantially diminishing the cartoonist population and threatening the very survival of the rendered word and the contemplative caption—and the very essence of creative dissent.