The Artistic Condition

Bryn Mawr College

December 5th, 2006

The panel at Bryn Mawr was really fun. God, that was 5 days ago already. I’ve lost track of time because I’m visiting my mom in Pennsylvania for a while. I’ve fallen into that strange dimension of reality known as the Family Zone, where time passes erratically. If at all.

family zone

(Don’t worry. Soon I will tire of the PhotoBooth feature on my new computer.) Read the rest of this entry »

from chaos to slightly less chaos

November 28th, 2006

Today I decided I couldn’t stand the filthy rat’s nest of cables and AC adaptors and dead spiders under my desk for one more second. Here’s a before picture of one small corner of the maelstrom.


Here’s a sampling of the devices I unhooked and dusted off, my own personal electronics warehouse. What the hell are all these freakin’ things?

electronics warehouse

After. Ahhhh.


That made me feel so good, I also put down fresh duct tape on my splintering plywood floor.

fresh duct tape

Your perspicacious comments on 499

November 17th, 2006

My deadline is looming for episodes 500 and 501, but I’m in a serious procrastination trough. I always have this problem, but it seems worse than usual right now, perhaps due to the daunting evenness of the number 500. I wasn’t going to read the comments people were making about 499 because I didn’t want to be swayed by them. But finally I broke down and looked, and I’m glad I did.

First of all, I’m astonished at how closely you’re all reading everything. That doesn’t help my paralysis. But man, I made so many mistakes in Read the rest of this entry »

Katie updates you on the pledge drive

October 19th, 2006

Alison is sitting behind me, trying hard to concentrate on her strips before she cavorts off to Europe. But she keeps standing up and expressing to me how “Awed!” and “Overwhelmed!” she feels as little paypal notifications appear in her email. She would like to extend her tremendous gratitude to all of you for participating in this crazy website, monetarily or not. The total, as of 5:52pm EST, was a mind-blowing 449.95! She stated, “I feel like a Democratic candidate in a contested district!”.


Here’s Alison’s levels of priority. Julia has alighted on the fancy ergonomic chair, while I am sitting on a folding chair. Given my own appreciation of the company of cats, I willingly oblige.


September 5th, 2006

My flight’s delayed, so I’ll see if I can answer Straight Girl Fan’s questions (in the comments on my 9/3 post) about Fun Home before my battery runs down. (forgot to bring that crucial little piece of the $&%^ power adapter, the little white plug part)

“Mom, how come you never go outside?” “I told you, I’m a vampire.” Did this really happen, or is this you putting Addams family words in your family’s mouths?

Yes, my mother really said this. Often. She’s always been very averse to sunlight.

Why would putting a kid in an old-fashioned cookstove be less macabre than a modern oven?

Because in those old stoves the firebox would be, like, closed off from the oven compartment. And they’d have yet another compartment further from the fire where you could just keep stuff warm. Like a small child. I guess.

Tee Corinne

August 30th, 2006

sinister wisdom by tee corinne

Lesbian icon, artist, and photographer Tee Corinne died on Sunday, of cancer. It’s very sad–she was only 62. The erotic images she was creating in the late seventies and early eighties were a big influence on me when I was first starting out as a cartoonist. This photo from 1977, “Sinister Wisdom,” is one of her most well-known shots.

Here’s a passage about it from an interview with Tee in Nothing But The Girl, Susie Bright’s and Jill Posener’s excellent compendium of lesbian erotic photography:

Tee became the poster girl of the lesbian living room when she created a cover for the radical feminist journal Sinister Wisdom, in which one woman cradles another. Tee recalls that the picture was originally submitted to a sex education textbook publisher who refused it:

“The editor of the Sex Atlas wrote to me and said that one woman’s hair was too short, and the other’s breasts were too long; the couple appeared to have an age difference, and people would think it was a sort of mother/daughter picture…My response was, ‘You fucker, I’ll make that picture famous.’ I didn’t know how, but I just knew the picture was strong, and eventually I solarized it. Within a year, that image had become the poster that everyone in the women’s community had on their wall.”

Here’s a link to a blog about Tee’s illness, with more details. And check out Susie Bright’s blog for a really nice piece about Tee, the August 27th entry.

What is real? A short disquisition.

August 25th, 2006

our mutual friend

I should be writing episodes 494 and 495 right now, but to procrastinate, I started reading the comments people were making about 493. The very aptly named Sir Real brought up an excellent question which I’d like to address, “What ‘actually’ happened in the DTWOF world” in this episode? Did Lois trash Ginger’s car? Did Sydney really make an assignation with Madeleine right in front of Mo?

I get confused myself with episodes like this. In fact, I just came up with a conceptual category for them—I’ve started thinking of them as “speculative” episodes. Just as speculative fiction imagines worlds that are different from this one while illuminating some aspect of our reality, a speculative DTWOF episode imagines a course of action that does not actually occur in the world of the strip but which attempts to shed some light on current events.

Being very fond of the first formulation of Kant’s categorical imperative–“Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it would become a universal law”—I like to take it out for a test drive occasionally.

For example, what if we all behaved in our domestic lives the way the Bush Administration conducts foreign policy? Or the way Enron conducted business? (Here are some examples of “speculative” episodes: Foreign Policy, Snug as a Bug, Everyday Enron.)

Obviously, I try not to do strips like this too often because then the whole cartoon universe would dissolve into meaninglessness.

Even so, things remain a little blurry because the behavior of the characters in speculative episodes isn’t entirely inconsistent with their personalities. That’s why they’re funny. (If they’re funny, which sometimes they’re not. Doublethink, for example, I consider a humor failure.)

Like, I wouldn’t put it past Sydney to make a date with Madeleine while Mo was sitting right there. (And I’m sorry, but I must congratulate myself here. Don’t you think “our mutual friend” is the best name for an English professor’s dildo ever?)

Sir Real goes on to ask, “So, Alison, are the events of this strip part of the `canon’, so to speak? Or more of a play-within-a-play sort of aside? (Or a lapse like Watson’s wandering war wound?)” The answer is no, they’re not part of the ‘canon.’ Nor are they lapses. They’re asides.

Aren’t you glad you asked?

the march of progress

August 24th, 2006

before and after

I got a lawnmower. A guy down the road said he could refurbish one for me for fifty bucks. He didn’t think the scythe was such a good idea. And I didn’t think the goat was such a good idea.

So I terrorized a beautiful snake and countless frogs, I cut down the stand of Queen Anne’s lace, the peppermint that had run amok, the bright jewelweed. And now my lush, verdant lawn is a brownish field of stubble strewn with unseemly clods of chewed up grass.

But despite the tingling in my hands and the lingering aroma of gasoline, I feel strangely virtuous. Maybe next I’ll tackle my email backlog.