Thursday, April 14, 2005

Dangle to Congress, Confirm Bolton Now!

John Bolton must be confirmed as our next representative to the United Nations. Because he's the best qualified? No. Because he's respected for his diplomatic nature? Not a chance. Because he's intelligent or competent? Nuh-uh. John Bolton must be confirmed because he was made for cartoons!

In all my years, I cannot recall a better mug or a more unintentionally funny personality than this to provide material for cartoonists' ridicule. The face is one that can be drawn recognizably without any use of photographic reference (which saves me time and effort). He has dark, matted hair, flattened out over his dome like a fur pancake, but sagging on one side as if the weight was unevenly distributed. The shape of his hair suggests wig, but it also could be that, in his vanity, he wears a super-fine hair net. His face is puffy and doughy, chin virtually non-existent, neither of which is remarkable, but right in the middle there's that bushy, snow white mustache, standing in jarring contrast to the wig above. It's wiry and unkempt and obliterates Bolton's mouth; one can easily imagine him bellowing at his cohorts during a lunchtime meeting, his mustache dripping with mayonnaise or barbecue sauce and he being completely unaware of it.

Bolton: Nation's Nightmare, Cartoonist's Dream

None of these physical attributes, though hilarious, make him perfect for comics. It's the irascible deranged fury in his eyes that does it. This effect can be captured in comics through a combination of bulging eyes that roll independently of each other in their sockets, and quiver lines, stars, and miniature tornados swirling around the head. There's nothing funnier than a guy in a suit, seething with anger, who, in a furious rage, slips on a banana peel. Imagine him about to bully one of his employees (blaming them for his own incompetence) when he accidentally flushes his necktie down the toilet with his neck still in it! When he extracts his head from the toilet his glasses are on crooked and his wig is soaked and hanging by a single strand. Frustrated, pompous, emasculated, he'd be a perfect foil for Popeye, Buster Keaton, or Cheech and Chong. If not for his wealth and power, he could be a maddeningly funny high school teacher who, imagining himself worthy of a much higher station in life, lords his power over his poor biology students. They get back at him by pulling various humiliating pranks: the whoopee cushion, the bucket of water on top of the door, the burning bag of shit. Finally he goes berserk at an all-school pep assembly when he discovers his trousers are glued to his chair, and violently threatens young Timmy Brown in front of the principal and the whole student body. Everybody gets a laugh when Mr. Bolton is hauled away in a straightjacket!

Please folks, consider the comedic opportunities that this confirmation presents. If you give Bolton the thumbs down he will vanish into obscurity, less than an asterisk in history. But if confirmed, we will have a bozo of enormous potential representing the United States in a place where his pratfalls, missteps, and moronic tirades will entertain people around the world. Let's face it, after the Iraq war, we owe the world some yuks.

And, if that's not enough, do it for the cartoonists.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Alternative Press Expo: Cartoonist Manages a Perceived Slight

Oh yeah, I exhibited at the Alternative Press Expo last weekend. I should've written about it here beforehand so that you would have known to come and see me. I'm a real promotional genius, aren't I? There was a time when I would have mounted loudspeakers on my car, sent out postcards, rented a monkey, and hired a band, but I don't have that twenty-something energy anymore. Now I promote mostly through telepathy. No wonder I had a table way back in the last row of the hall facing a bunch of garbage cans and the rest rooms.

Now, this is an important aspect of my blog, especially for you aspiring artists, and one I will be illuminating here often: managing professional slights (real or imagined), and handling the ego deflation of seeing one of your contemporaries get more praise, attention, or fame than you in a given situation. In this case, upon entering the Alternative Press Expo, the very first booth one encountered after registering was Keith Knight's "K Chronicles," the booth of another weekly cartoonist--my competition--a rival for the same chunk of turf. I love Keef, (that's what he likes to be called) and I have no problem with him getting the prime location--except for the fact that the attendees would have to pass 125,000 other booths between his and mine before finding Troubletown at the extreme rear of the hall. This creates the impression to the ordinary Expo-goer that Keith Knight is a superstar and that Lloyd Dangle is a inky-fingered, self-stapling, low-talent, never-been-published, toner-sucking loser! The perceived slight sent a bolt of jealous-envy-rage rocketing through my spinal column. It could not stand! Everything in my experience as an artist told me that I must go up to the registration desk and throw a hysterical prima donna fit, frightening the guests and exhibitors with histrionics and shrill profanity, screaming the list of my accomplishments while denouncing the artists around me with vicious cruelty. Many would have handled it that way.

Or, on the other hand, maybe I could pretend--as a celebrity of such considerable magnitude--that I hadn't even noticed the poor placement. The ways of these comics shows were so foreign to me and beneath my radar that I couldn't be expected to consider such petty details. This being the case, there would be nothing for me to do but to transcend the whole matter. This approach would've been okay, except every single person who came up to me said, "Why are you all the way back here in the last row by the bathrooms?" Even the guy who wrote this article mentioned it. Next of course the next question was, are you the guy who did the packaging for Airborne?

So, instead of either of these options, I took the completely noble approach of using the situation for a flyer which I spread all over the convention grounds. Always a cartoonist! The organizer came to me to apologize and grovel--all the while cursing me silently beneath his breath--and promising me that next time I'll be right up in front. APE was great anyway, and, thanks to all of you who did find me, I walked out of there with a boatload of cash and still made it home alive. Thanks to all you animators from Pixar who opened your hearts and wallets to me. My son will be gorging himself on seaweed and burritos and jelly beans (his favorites) for the forseeable future thanks to your kind patronage.

SFist: The Alternative Press Expo (APE) Kicks Our Ass And Takes Names

Monday, April 11, 2005


This the time of year in Northern California the snails proliferate and threaten to take over everything, eating gardens, climbing up the sides of houses, attaching themselves to automobiles, furniture, and leaving silvery trails of mucus wherever they go. Snails aren't native to California, they were brought here by French and Italian immigrants to be eaten as escargot, a dish that is like day-old chewed bubblegum sauteed in butter and garlic, sometimes surrounded by a bit of soggy, garlicky pastry. I've eaten it, it's okay. Most things are good when used as a vehicle for garlic and butter, but snails wouldn't be my first pick. I'd go for calamari, scallops, or crabs first, but I wouldn't necessarily like to find any of them in my shoe first thing in the morning either. In Korea, kids eat a much tinier type of snails bought in seaweed cones from street vendors. Hae used to eat them as a child as a special treat.

Once I planted a bunch of sunflowers from seeds in my back yard in Oakland and sat outside one evening drinking a beer. As darkness fell I started hearing clearly audible sounds, CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH! I could only describe it as the sound of a lion or wolf gnawing on the leg bone of an antelope, it was loud and disturbing! I grabbed my beer and headed into the house. The next morning there were not a sign of my tiny sunflower plants. Those motherfuckers with their tiny jaws had sheared them clean off. Or do they even have jaws? I don't know. They are terrifying organisms.

The other day, I was horrified to discover one of our sauce pans sitting on the kitchen counter with about thirty snails inside it, a sheet of plastic wrap over the top with holes punched through, and a rubber band holding it in place. Hae had been gardening and her arm was sore from throwing the snails into the street for the SUVs to run over. She also thought it would be fun and educational for Oscar to have a snail farm. Mom and child put a few lettuce leaves and tulips in the pan for the snails to eat, but the snails didn't seem to notice. They huddled together for safety.

The next morning the leaves and tulips were gone and there were snail shits all over the pan. Some of the snails were hanging upside down on the plastic wrap giving you an disgusting view of their undersides and little mouths sucking frantically with no signs of jaws at all. Horrible! Evil! Hae said that Joy of Cooking showed how to prepare snails for eating, so now she was starving them to rid them of toxins. Soon she would introduce clean organic leaves and herbs to their diet and prepare them for slaughter. Christ, had she gone mad?! As they got hungrier, one punctured the plastic and slimed its way onto the counter looking for food. I threw it back in and hoped for no more escapes.

By yesterday morning they had all made a break for it, sliming their way down the pan and onto the counter. One had eaten away a baseball-sized chunk out of our unfinished tax returns, the edges saturated with snail saliva, even more disgusting than the mucus trails leading in all directions. I started yanking the live suction cups off of the dishes and wherever else they had settled, threw them into the pan, and threw the pan outside. Soon they were all gone, or so I thought until I found one today clinging from a dish towel.

Hae said, "I can't believe you let them go and didn't kill them all."

"I didn't let them go. I got them the hell out of the kitchen!" I said.

"Yeah, but you should of killed them."

"Yeah, well, whenever possible, you know, one must err on the side of life..."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Here's Some Work for an Eager Cartoonist

The US Army needs a few good comic book artists to help them break the back of the Iraqi insurgency. Yep, not only has the military discovered that action-packed superhero TV commercials are good for signing up gullible and testosterone-laden eighteen-year-olds, but that comics can also persuade middle east insurgents to lay down their weapons, and make future generations of Arab boys identify with musclebound men in tights rather than bomb-detonating suicide martyrs.

"Win the Mind -- Win the Day." That's the slogan of the "Psy-ops warriors" otherwise known as the 4th Psychological Operations Group. I recommend that you guardsmen, reservists, and ruled-against conscientous objectors who can pencil or ink in the Marvel style, ask to be assigned to the comic book unit at Fort Bragg. While normally I can't condone it, in this case, I think fluffing-up your portfolio a little would not be unethical.