Complete B.S.

Who says Twitter isn’t good for anything? I met Mark Peters there a few years ago, we traded some ideas about collaborating in addition to stupid jokes, and then something cool happened: Mark wrote a book, I illustrated it, and it’s now a real thing you can buy. Bullshit: A Lexicon was just published by Three Rivers Press, a division of Penguin.


Mark’s a terrifically funny guy in general, having written for McSweeney’s, among others, but he is also an etymologist with a PhD in English. So you could say he knows what he’s joking about. As soon as he told me he wanted to write kind of a dictionary of all the synonyms for “bullshit,” I said yeah – that sounds like a winner to me.

It’s out just in time for the holidays, wink wink! And according to my calculations, the world is never, ever going to run out of bullshit, so it will always be relevant. And if you want to know how to work a word like codswallop into your next TED talk, then you’ll find this book incredibly useful.


Because the words are all very similar in meaning, I had to be pretty literal with the illustrations, and I tried to do the whole book without resorting to drawing actual crap. For some reason I really like this drawing I did of a piece of tripe, for the entry for tripe, naturally:


But I thought I’d share some of the things that didn’t make it into the book. This was me fooling around with click here to read the rest of this post

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Life’s a batch!


The New Yorker has teamed up with radio station WNYC to create The New Yorker Radio Hour, a show which will be broadcast locally here in New York City and also available online or as an iTunes podcast. The intention is not to merely be an audio version of the magazine, but to be a hybrid sort of production that features stories, conversation, and audio that you can’t do in a magazine, and they’re off to a good start so far. Radio: who knew? (although I have professed my love for the medium of radio here.)

Matt Diffee is currently running a segment on the show called “Life’s a Batch.” The idea is that he talks with cartoonists while they are working on their weekly batch of submissions, which somehow start off as a scratchpad of doodles, as below, and if we’re lucky, eventually get selected for publication.


It’s a short little bit, somewhat of a palate cleanser in between longer pieces. I was guest Numero Uno! and you can hear us briefly on Episode One and then continuing the conversations on Episode Two. If you’re really impatient and just want to get to our short phone conversations, they take place here:

episode 2

and then here:

episode 2a

and then here.episode 2b

But you should listen to the whole episode, because it’s compelling stuff. Maybe next time they’ll get Seth Rogen and James Franco to play Matt and I, because: radio!

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Surrender Music

I know: I need to add Music to the title of Words, Pictures, Humor. When I started the blog, I wasn’t envisioning posting mixtapes. But, this idea just kind of happened, and it wasn’t difficult to do.

I was fortunate enough to see the Chemical Brothers perform at Electric Zoo this year on Randall’s Island in NYC. I have always liked them, but there’s a dichotomy between their live show and their albums. Their albums are albums in the old-school way – a bunch of individual songs that sound kind of like a singles collection – while their live show is your classic DJ performance with songs gliding in and out of a continuously pounding mix. The twin identity, I assume, has enabled them to both sell recorded music and also keep their placement within the EDM world (something which is more common nowadays with David Guetta and the like than it was when the Brothers started out in the mid-90s). But when I listen to their albums I want them to sound more like the live show.

Better Surrender_back

So here’s what I did: I gathered all the tracks from Surrender, arguably their best record. I swapped out the momentum-killing album tracks for Surrender-era b-sides which are considerably more jacked up, threw in some remixes, resequenced the songs, and spliced them together (slickly, I think, for a mere wannabe DJ) into one continuous banger of a mix. It’s like Surrender, but better. And it’s now at Soundcloud.

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Incidental Post

If you’ve never visited Incidental Comics, the blog from cartoonist Grant Snider (who is frequently featured in the NY Times Book Review), you should. His short-form narrative comics are among the most satisfying I’ve ever read. They are frequently very meta: comics about comics, or about the process of writing, or drawing, or creativity in general. His drawings are effectively simple and I love his use of color, which is artful and often symbolic. And the comics themselves are playful, insightful, and read like poetry. Since I’m working on a picture book of my own, I thought it would be a good time to repost one of my favorites from his site here. Point taken, Grant! TheVeryBadPictureBook


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The love before Loveless


I’ve always been a fan of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series, where individual authors write a book about a single album. In the volume about My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, Mike McGonigal writes:

Here’s a list of possible antecedents for Loveless: a baker’s dozen, mostly slow and dreamy, “pop”-based musical works which are equal parts raw invention and delightful melody, and that predate Loveless. (It’s a bit wanky, but it was fun to compile – and everyone loves lists, don’t they?)

He then goes on to suggest a playlist of sorts, starting with Eno’s “Needles in the Camel’s Eye,” and on through various songs (and a few full albums) by Faust, Sonic Youth, Hüsker Dü, and even electronic pioneer Delia Derbyshire’s weirdo White Noise project, among others. Well, everyone loves a good playlist, right (as I wrote here recently)? So I decided to take Mike a step further and mix all of these songs together into a single 46-minute playlist. Yes, admittedly also a bit wanky. His original list would have taken well over two hours to listen to, so I only included a few choice minutes of the 12-minute-plus opuses, but it’s all in the spirit of My Bloody Valentine: after all, they were making pop music. I also added into the mix one obvious antecedent, Dinosaur Jr., just because. Does Loveless sound like it could have sprung forth from this stew of droney noise-pop? Judge for yourself over at Mixcloud, where I’ve uploaded it with tracklist, or listen below.

PreMBV by Gimmesomed on Mixcloud

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Life Imitates Art

Never has life – my life – imitated art so perfectly as it did last week.

I drew up this cartoon earlier this year, which was published in last week’s New Yorker:

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 10.55.48 AM

As you can see from my sketchbook entry below, I didn’t get it right on the first try. I don’t really know what I was thinking on my initial doodle – “Would anyone like to give up your seats for an equally crowded flight later on?” It makes some sense but it’s not that funny. My next attempt – “Would anyone like a free voucher in return for helping us count seats?” – is funnier. Like an airplane above Newark airport, I was circling around the idea looking for a place to land. And I finally got there.


I have no idea why the airlines intentionally overbook flights. I mean, I do, but I don’t. I understand why they might have a policy which would allow for their frequent and well-heeled customers to make last-minute reservations, and then deal with the fallout from there, but it seems like an insane way to do business. A seat is a seat, right? If you’ve ever seen a live taping of a TV show, you know that they sometimes do something similar, in that they give out more tickets than they have seats. However, they solve the problem by making it first come, first serve. And it’s usually free. It’s not “let’s charge people hundreds of dollars on tickets that we can’t accommodate and then try to bribe somebody to change their plans at the last minute.”

Anyway, on the day after the magazine was published, I flew to Los Angeles to speak at the August meeting of the National Cartoonist Society’s LA chapter, among other things. (Jenny Fine snapped a shot of me presenting in front of the graffiti-covered wall at Stories.)

NCS LA August 2015 v2

My return flight home was Saturday at noon. As I was waiting to board, the gate agent repeatedly announced that they were looking for one person to volunteer to give up their seat in return for a $500 voucher. I usually don’t spring for things like that, but the next flight back to NYC was only three hours after, so I figured that was a small price to pay. I didn’t have to be back for anything, and as it was my seat was in the last row, so I didn’t mind giving that one up.

After letting the plane fully board and then approaching the desk to claim my reward, I was then told by the agent to hurry onto the plane. The deal was off. There were half a dozen passengers who hadn’t yet showed up, so I had to board the plane. At least I got a seat upgrade – I was sitting closer to the front of the plane, and some other sucker was in my former seat. But still. I wish I had had a copy of my cartoon with me to show the United gate agent. He would have been possibly the only person who wouldn’t have asked me “Where do you get your ideas?”

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Gratefully Grumpy

The very first week that I submitted cartoons to the New Yorker was in June 0f 2002. I took the train down from Boston and took this issue back home with me:

bliss lion

So Harry Bliss‘ public library lion has always kind of been on my brain. It’s a great image. One day this spring after I had been in Bryant Park I was revisiting those lion statues and thought of this idea, which eventually made it’s way online and into the magazine this week.





The cat is the well-known public figure whose name is actually Tardar Sauce (according to her Wikipedia page which will be longer than mine ever will be), probably appearing in the New Yorker for the first time, at least in print. Also a first-time thing for me is using a tool other than a scratchboard knife. I wanted the trees to be a texture other than that which I could create with my own hand, so they’re the result of a sponge dipped in ink. Yes, this was a crafts project!  I did not do dishes with the same sponge afterward.


(It is a lie that it’s the first time I used a sponge – I used a sponge a little bit in last week’s cartoon about guy-dominated startups, but I had drawn this one first, and I’ve already started writing this blog post.)

So, for those who read my entry on Jane Mattimoe‘s A Case for Pencils blog, consider the process to be updated. Knives and sponges it is. And while we’re talking cats, a true confession:  I really wanted to see the Acro-Cats circus this weekend in Brooklyn – come on, cats playing cowbell! – but the shows were all sold out. Great for Samantha Martin, the creator of the show, but bad for me. Hopefully they will come back again. Are you happy now, Mrs. Sauce?




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