Thursday, October 30, 2008

Low Tech Devices

A decent respect to the opinions of mankind

In case you hadn't noticed, my column and cartoons haven't been running in the Mapleton PRESS for a few weeks now. It's complicated. Suffices to say that it was my personal decision to go on hiatus, not an editorial decision on their part. It has been difficult. It is a personal leave of absence, and it is still indefinite.

I always believed in talking about "sex, politics, and religion- not necessarily in that order," and that it is important to speak the truth as you believe it. But this election has superheated. I never minded complaints about me or the occasional hate mail, but it got intense. People feel so passionately about their sides that they become angrier and uglier faster.

While other people may be hypersensitive and wrapped up in rancor, I'm probably culpable too. I'm very passionate about what I believe too, so no doubt my tone became more acidic and less light hearted. I had planned to go "cold turkey," and never post anything here if I couldn't write a weekly column too- but obviously I didn't have enough self control for that.

My dream was that being held to the discipline of writing a weekly column might someday lead to being able to write professionally full time. In my mind, blogging was extra, superfluous, a past time- column writing was the meat, blogging the side dish. If this is all I have, I'm just another prattling voice in the vast blogosphere, that hardly anyone ever bothers to read. In the PRESS, it was farm league, small time, but there were 4,000 readers- even if most of them disagreed with me and several of them thought I should be tried for treason.

If/when I return (after this damn election) I'd have to find a way not just to speak the truth, but to speak the truth in love and with more humor and less venom. But at this point, I don't know if or when that day will ever come.

It is important that my detractors and critics know that "I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of the Communist Party" or Socialist, or Taliban, or Terrorist. I am not a baby killer, a satanist, or a debaucher. I do believe in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and savior and I believe that might should not make right, but just the opposite- that right should make might. I believe in small town, agricultural Iowa, I believe in family and treating people with kindness and working hard. I Love America and I do not wish ill for her. Please don't feel sorry for my children or talk about me behind my back or avoid making eye contact with my wife or in-laws. Try following Jesus' advice in Matthew 5 "Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you" (sorry if you ever felt like I persecuted you, could ya please try not to deliberately persecute me, okay? Thanks).

It is important that my fans (if I ever had any) know that no one at Enterprise Publishing and the Mapleton PRESS did this to me. I needed to take a break. After 25 years of dreaming, I finally got the gumption to send out both columns and cartoons to national syndicates and got rejected by every single one. I thought I could withstand that, but it really rattled me- though not as much as neighbors who don't think I can possible be Christian because I'm not as rabidly pro-life and anti-gay and anti-immigrant as they are. Thank you for your encouragement and camaraderie. Keep me in your prayers.

It is important for those readers who disagreed with me a lot of the time but still enjoyed reading my column and cartoons, but who don't hold all kinds of animosity towards me that you should always be willing to talk about anything with anyone, and also be willing to listen to anyone talk about anything. Listening and learning, sharing and discussing- even when you disagree, and trying to find common ground- these are what makes America great and make the give and take of democracy work. Thank you, and please pass it on.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Interview with a legend

Comedian Phill Jupitus secures a rare interview Garry Trudeau, the reclusive creator of the Doonesbury cartoon. LISTEN HERE

This programme was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 7 October, 2008.

American political cartoonists; An endangered species., down from 200 to barely 80 in the last few decades. Save this art form, write your local newspaper editor and tell them that you not only want them to carry editorial cartoons, but you think they should have their own local cartoonist. Don't let them die out the same way the polar bears are!

Anyone who really cares about me will at least buy me a copy of the new Trudeau biography, 'Garry Trudeau: Doonesbury and the Aesthetics of Satire' for Christmas, pleeeease?!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lutheran Surrealism

Last year, I was surfing the web and stumbled on this blog, By this college professor who's into surrealist poetry and philosophy who became a Lutheran. His mind bending writing inspired me to PhotoShop a few of the great Surrealist paintings (that weren't totally lewd). Just in time for Reformation (October 31) Scary, huh?

Yeah, I stayed at school and waited for Parent/Teacher conferences to start, so I was REALLY bored. I promise I'm not on drugs, and I won't be offended if you don't "get it." I have kind of a weired sense of humor.

If you think they're funny, feel free to pass them on. Maybe we can start a cult or something.
Happy Reformation Day.

The persistence of litergy
Just like Salvador Dali's 'Persistence of Memory.' I used the LCMS's new "Lutheran Service Book from CPH because I couldn't find a good picture of the old blue 'Lutheran Worship' or what i was really looking for, the red 'Lutheran Hymnal.'

This is not a beer stein
ala Rene Magritte's famous, "This is not a pipe."

It's the Great Pumpkin, Karl Barth!
Robert L. Short in his book 'The Gospel According to Peanuts' pointed out that "Charlie Brown" may have been a cleverly devised literary device for cartoonist Charles Schultz to inject the ideas of the great twentieth century theologian "Karl (Charles) Barth (Brown)." Since he was one of my heroes, I always secretly hoped that since he was from Minnesota, Schultz was Lutheran, but I think actually he may have belonged to the Church of Christ or something like that. So what if Schultz wasn't a surrealist! Reformation and Halloween are the same day, so I'm allowed to take a little license. I always felt that Linus was more like Kierkegaard, but Barth's hair is kind of crazy like Linus's is in this picture. Really, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's face and head look more like Charlie Brown, but how can you satirize someone who was martyred by the NAZI's, I mean, come on, some things are sacred.

This year I decided to revisit the theme of Lutheran Surrealism, so here is a whole new batch of weirdness- A second helping of surrealist pot-luck Lutheran hot-dish! I've added several new Lutheran surrealist works to this gallery, just in time for Reformation!

Martin Luther as Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. (works for dia de los Muertos too).

C.F.W. Walther with Dali's mustache.

Phillip Melancthon can't sleep, based on one of Salvador Dali's more famous works.

Photo of Luther as surrealist Rene Magritte. No special meaning, just kinda weird and cool.

Frau Katie, little deer- obviously based on the Frida Kahlo painting

Indestructible Liturgy, based on Man Ray's "Indestructible Object." I guess while I love the traditional liturgies, I don't have any hang ups about contemporary worship like some Lutherans, but nor do I think we should throw the baby out with the bath water either. Once upon a time what Luther and Bach did was counter-cultural and iconoclastic.

The Holy Spirit upon Erasmus, based on some renaissance painting and one by Rene Magritte.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Opus Magnum

Berkeley Breathed is putting his penguin on ice. The 51-year-old cartoonist said he will pull the plug on his comic-strip career and “Opus” after Nov. 2.

In an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times, the 51-year-old Breathed wrote, “30 years of cartooning to end. I’m destroying the village to save it. Opus would inevitably become a ranting mouthpiece in the coming wicked days, and I respect the other parts of him too much to see that happen. The Michael Moore part of me would kill the part of him that was important to his fans.”

“With the crisis in Wall Street and Washington, I’m suspending my comic strip to assist the nation. The best way I can help is to leave politics permanently and write funny stories for America’s kids. I call on John McCain to join me.”

Read the entire article at LA TIMES

Read a more in-depth one in the Washington Post

Listen to an interview on NPR

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a huge fan... and yet I was. I loved Bloom County back in the 80's. Breathed was probably more influential than any other cartoonist on guys my age, in fact, it got so bad that I couldn't stand it anymore. That drove me to the arms of Doonesbury, which ironically, I suspect, was one of the biggest influences on Breathed.

That said and out of the way, I have to say, I feel for him. Anyone who follows this blog (not that anybody does) would notice that I gave up writing a weekly political column and cartoon for our local newspaper mostly because I got tired of the visceral reaction of people who didn't like what I wrote. In fairness to them, they were tired of the vitriol tone that I took when writing about Palin and McCain. Like Breathed, I recognize that anger is a sociopathic muse, even when it's righteous anger.

Molly Ivins once said, "fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it." But whenever I'd have the most fun, that's when people would have the most visceral, hateful reactions. The point of political cartooning is that "a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down." I want to stand up for what I believe in and I want to point out hypocrisies and fight for the downtrodden, but I'd rather have people say "sometimes I just don't get him," instead of "how can he say those things, what must he be teaching his kids? I feel so sorry for his family. God's going to have to be his final judge, then he'll get his."

So I respect Breathed's decision. I can relate to what he's going through. This election and this economic crisis are tearing our country apart, even more than the war had been. We need to learn how to agree to disagree again. We need to heed Lincoln's warning that a house divided against itself will not stand. But be that as it may, I'm still glad God put agitators like Micheal Moore on this planet. I still wish I could be a "real" political cartoonist someday, and I'm relieved that Gary Trudea hasn't retired again yet.

"I believe that ignorance is the root of all evil.
And that no one knows the truth."
~Molly Ivins

"The gospel is meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."
~Garrison Keillor

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Notice the logo on his hat, yeah that's be mine,

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Another nail in the coffin

Here's the rejection notice from United Media. At least this one was somewhat personal, even a little encouraging- although it makes it sound like maybe I'm "over-qualified." Gotta learn how to dumb it down, I guess.

More Rejection

I thought for sure that these wouldn't bother me, that I'd just be proud to have been trying. My motto was, "if you ship doesn't come in, swim out after it." But you know what? We're not all Micheal Phelps, and the water is icy and the current is strong, and there's sharks and seagulls and jelly fish and the water is salty... eventually your muscles cramp and you get hypothermia, and if you ate less than an hour before you went in, you get stomach cramps too.

I have some new cartoons that are posted as drafts that will pop up on here in the next couple of days, but frankly I think I'm ready to just hang it up. I'm a blue-stater living in about as red a district as they get and I'm tired of being a mutant, weirdo, pariah. Maybe if I quit writing and cartooning I can just try to fit in. I swear God made me with this compulsion (and this political preference). I wonder if this is what gay people have to go through- you can't help who you are but everyone else thinks you're sick or wrong.