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.
Dangle Off Deadline: Interview
This Week's Final Troubletown
Weekly Dose of Dangle
I’ve been on the road, last week in Chicago. I got to see my friend, Schmelzer, who was the Guild president after me. Anybody who’s been Guild president is automatically bonded to the ones who went before. It’s so painful and traumatic an experience that you have to have to been there to understand. Schmelzer and I ate oysters and drank pints of Guinness in a classic Chicago meat house. He’s creating cartoons for the New Yorker these days working with a gag writer. The drawings are good, but the gags are bad. He goes to the New Yorker office on Tuesdays at eleven when he’s in New York to show Mankoff his cartoons. It’s still done the old fashioned way there. So far all of his cartoons have been rejected. I wish I could do New Yorker style cartoons, but I just don’t seem to be able to write that way.
It’s Oscar’s spring break so I’m out of the office again on two camping trips. The first one was to Steep Ravine in Marin County, camping in little cabins with wood-burning stoves on a steep cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It’s really not camping at all. Next we’re going on a boy scout camping trip in the redwoods with the tent and the whole bit. It’s supposed to rain. I’ve had job requests coming in like mad so taking time off makes me a bit anxious. Things sure have changed since a year ago.
I confused my readers last week with my third-to-last comic strip by suggesting that I’m leaving the country. A bunch of haters sent emails saying stuff like: don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. Well forget about it. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll still be a thorn in your sides whether I draw Troubletown or not. I’ve had several newspapers interview me about the end of Troubletown. Everybody expects me to be sad and grieving the end of my comic strip, they look at me with big puppy eyes, but I’m not at all. After next week’s deadline I’m a free man. I won’t disappear though, I will still have Troubletown the blog and a constant annoying Twitter presence.
I’ve been reading the three Steig Larson books, you know, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the others, on Hae’s kindle. At first I was unimpressed with the artistry of the writing but after a while I got so hooked that I didn’t care anymore. The kindle is an odd little machine with a gray screen. It’s not lit so you can’t read it in the dark, but the face is shiny so you have to get the angle just right so that your reading light doesn’t reflect into your eyes. You don’t have the cover of a book constantly reminding you what the title is, so I always forget. It’s called The Girl who Played with a Tattoo of a Hornet’s Nest. Something like that.
This Week's Highly Patriotic Troubletown
This Week's Troubletown
With only three cartoons to go, I penned this bummer, anti-American screed. Let the snide comments roll!
Weekly Dose of Dangle
My friend Karthik is running for mayor of San Francisco. He’s an artist with an interesting background as a statistician and a news director for KPFK in Los Angeles. He’s traveled around the world many times and probably done dozens of other things that I'm not aware of. Now he walks the hilly streets of San Francisco talking to the people and stopping in at every bar and cafe to press the flesh. Anyway, check out his campaign
, he’d kick ass as mayor. I’d vote for him except that I live in Oakland. Although he’s determined to fight cronyism I’m hoping that he will name me SF commissioner of cartooning. I’d liberally dole out money to all the cartoonists who are just one step from the gutter.
I’m heading off to Chicago for almost the whole week to do a graphic recording gig with my colleagues at Alphachimp. Corporate gig! I wish I could take some time to go see my dad two hours north of Chicago in the wilds of Wisconsin, but it ain't going to happen. He’s ninety and lives alone in a three bedroom house out in the countryside near where he was raised. My sister, Joyce, lives nearby too. She’s a school social worker who is in the crosshairs of Governor Scott Walker’s budget cuts. Her job is to try to get toothless, meth-addled hillbillies to send their kids to school. She’s half expecting to be laid off. And she’s had that job forever.
I also wish I had time to see my pal, John Schmelzer, the guy who was Guild president after I finished my term from hell. He’s incredibly obnoxious, the kind of guy who gives waitresses a hard time, but I’m fond of him. He collects bulldogs, draws illustrations, and raises pigeons. We like to drink together. Maybe I can see him on the last night before I return unless Alphachimp has other plans for me.
Took Oscar to his cuong nhu martial arts class Saturday morning. He was goofing off and not paying any attention to the teacher. Spinning around and falling on the ground and being a clown. I asked him what the hell he was doing out there and he said, “Dad, if you ever make another comment like that I will never do cuong nhu again.” He’s always making ultimatums. I heard a guy deriding California dads who want to be their kids’ buddies instead of parenting with an iron fist. I wondered if I was one of those dads.
A *Sob* Interview with Dangle
Village Voice Comics Idiocy
This Week's Dose of Dangle
I was asked to emcee a roast of the crazy-child beat poet Clive Matson who was turning seventy. I went there in my tuxedo with a bunch of crass jokes I’d written about Clive, how old he is, how much he loves rocks (he’s a mineral collector), how he’s the poet laureate of Viagra, etc. But when I got there I discovered it was not a roast at all but a poetry reading. I also discovered that they had asked two people to emcee, me and another guy. I guess they wanted a backup. We each tried to pawn the job off on the other, but it was decided that because I had the tux I would emcee, and he would come on a couple times to say some clever stuff. Every single person in the room signed up for a chance to read a poem or two. Folks read heartfelt verses for hours. My jokes did not fit the mood and went over like lead balloons. To make matters worse, the woman who made the list had bad handwriting, so I mispronounced every single poet’s name. And it was a tight-knit group so they all knew each others names. It was the kind of experience that just makes one stronger.
I went to LA twice last week to graphically record lectures and discussions for science and medical departments at USC. Heady stuff about neurology, engineering, and spatial science. This weekend I recorded two days at Sex::tech, a conference for people who educate teens about sex. I drew pictures of condoms and pregnant girls. When I did the medical school gig they sent a driver to pick me up at the airport. A chauffeur. I came down the escalator and there was a guy standing with a sign that said, “Doctor Dangle.” In Albuquerque the rental car place gave me a brand new silver Mustang by mistake. The cockpit is so low and the hood so high on those things you can’t see the road at all--and I’m pretty tall. I was driving to the gig and I got pulled over in Corrales for doing 20 in a 15 mile per hour zone. He let me off with a verbal.
I get paid to do this
I’m retiring Troubletown, as everybody knows by now, and I've been getting a lot of kind notes. Thanks for your comments! None of the haters are emailing me thanking me for quitting though. I think they’re secretly going to miss me. Here’s the type of love letter I’m going to miss about this week's cartoon from amateur psychologist and over-user of quotation marks, Kevin H.
Maybe the president you so adored only two years ago isn't doing what you think is "correct" now is because that now that he is in charge, he "gets" things that you obviously don't, and never will. Its so easy to blast the guy in charge, until suddenly you are the guy in charge. Then its funny how things change. Imagine that. Maybe its because he has to consider both sides of the equation when for years you only considered your side? Hell, did you ever spend 10 seconds even trying to understand the rationale of the otherside? I doubt it.
Its easy to be a critic when you are not in charge - but when were YOU ever "in charge"? I am laughing. Give me any bullshit answer you want - I know the real answer is "never".
Don't worry.... your views couldn't possibly be wrong. Keep believing that. And keep drinking the coolaide. George Soros loves puppets - who knows, if you kiss his backside enough, maybe he will give you a subsidy!
Isn't America wonderful? You can make money off spreading bullshit! You of all people should know.
Just out of curiosity - are you an only-child rebelling from your rich parents? You certainly act that way.
Hmmm, some interesting projection there. Pissing off dudes like Kevin is what I live for, so it will be tough. But I'll find a way to live without it.
The Bay Guardian
I want to thank the papers and magazines that stuck with me to the bitter end:
Pacific Northwest Inlander
San Francisco Bay Guardian
Seven Days, Burlington VT
Weekly Alibi/ Albuquerque
And the ones that ran me at one time before they canned me:
Broward Palm Beach New Times
Cleveland Free Times
Inland Empire Weekly
LA New Times
Metro Silicon Valley
Miami New Times
Minneapolis City Paper
Metro Silicon Valley
New York Press
San Diego Reader
Urban Tulsa Weekly
I'm probably missing a few. It has
been 22 years.