Friday, April 29, 2011

This Week's Dose of Dangle

Well, I penned my last Troubletown this week and it’s been a very emotive time around here as the emails and comments (most of them nice) have been pouring in. You hardcore Troubletown fans will be happy to know that the two pens and the inking brush I used to draw those cartoons are still sitting on my table exactly as there were when I finished the last panel and they will never be moved. I haven’t washed the brush and it is totally stiff with dried ink. My studio is now cordoned off with a velvet rope. It’s simply a museum to the great cartoon that was.

The reinvention of Dangle as corporate whore is going smoothly. What a relief. In addition to the 22 years I spent drawing a popular but unprofitable comic strip, I spent ten and an obscene amount of money trying to make a go at licensing, but found that manufactured superficiality didn’t come easily to me. Every time I tried to make something cute and inoffensive that I thought the public would buy I fell flat on my face. Target, Wal Mart, and all the big retailers used stripes and polka dots on everything and never wanted to slap any Dangle designs on their products. Plus, as an artist, when you start worrying about what people want instead of just doing what pleases you and comes naturally you become unhinged and screwed.

I don’t know why but ever since I came back from that candy convention in Chicago I’ve been eating like a pig. Just wolfing down easter eggs and Peeps and marshmallows and all sorts of disgusting crap. Last night the Feldman’s invited us over for cake to celebrate Clara’s ninth birthday so I sucked down a large piece. Tiramisu. Plus I’ve been throwing back beers and wine (mayor-to-be Karthik took me out to celebrate the end of the strip) like there’s no tomorrow. Now I must get back to eating nothing but fennel and kale again.

The Feldman’s had a break-in the beginning of last week. Josh was coming into his house when three guys ran past him carrying all his computers and valuables, sticking out the sides of the Feldmans' own luggage. Josh made chase but the guys all split up and took off. One of them dumped a desktop computer in the bushes, so at least Josh got that back. The Oakland police told him that since it was just a burglary they weren’t going to do a single thing about it. The burglars around here are sharp at surveiling and analyzing the residents’ patterns. Every time we spend a whole morning packing the car for a camping trip I cringe at the information we’re posting to all the nearby criminals.

I got back to work on my novel about art, life, politics, and pain. I bought the program, Scrivener, which is a hell of a lot better than trying to write a novel in Word. You can actually organize things. Ah, but the novel, it has it’s moments of profound artistry––pure genius––but mostly it’s a sprawling unruly mess without any pictures to help. I’m about two thirds of the way through the story. My plan is to hammer through the rest of it so that I actually have a first draft. Then I need to go through the whole thing a couple times and pump it all up to the same volume. There is an incredibly weak sub-plot that I might just kill entirely, except it provides my main character with a level of depth that would be missing without it. One of my readers (I’ve shared it with members of a writing workshop) says that the characters are cartoon-like, which is usually a bad thing to say about characters in a novel, but she actually means it in a good way. I’d like to serialize it here on the blog, but I’m not ready for that.

The other thing I’m doing is rereading What Makes Sammy Run for inspiration. One of the greatest novels I know.


Anonymous JES said...

Not a friend, just a reader. Saddened to see you getting out of the cartooning game; I've loved your work for many years via The Funny Times and pictured you just going and going and going...

Best of luck with whatever you take up next. Hope you don't become utterly invisible!

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't agree with most of your political views when I first started reading your comic strip in sfbg years ago (though I've moved in that direction over the years), but I always found it very funny and on point. I also really enjoyed your drawing and the hilarious expressions on your character's faces. I'll definitely miss reading your comic and wish you luck in your future endeavors!

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So it's really true? Is anyone drawing political commentary any more? Is Lucky Ducky all I have left now?

2:53 PM  
Blogger Clayton said...

I loved "TROUBLETOWN"!! I'm very sorry to see it go. All the best on your novel!! Looking forward to a dose of the same 'Trouble'...

2:40 PM  
Blogger Mary Patterson - "White Slug" said...

Got your newsletter, and so bummed about the end of Troubletown! I will miss that. Always glad to see your work when I run across it. Glad your making money doing "live graphics" that looks pretty cool. Good luck with the novel!

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Bill said...

Ten years ago, I was in my 50s and the young man in the next cubicle was in his 20s.

At some point, probably late in 2000, we started emailing your cartoons back and forth at work when either one of us would see them.

It has been a few years now since we worked together and I still forward one of your cartoons to him once in a while.

Thanks for all the great work. They were funny and they were more than just for laughs.

8:45 PM  

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