Almost every single aspect of my personality can be explained by one simple fact: when I was a kid I ate a bouillon cube.
I was too young to know better. I had witnessed the flavor sorcery that resulted when my parents would cook with a bouillon cube. Surely, I reasoned, if it made dinner taste that good, then a whole cube of it would be a trip to flavor heaven. I even imagined it might expand into a steak or a burger, like in The Jetsons. So one evening I sneaked into the kitchen, unwrapped a beef cube, popped it in my mouth, and chewed it up.
All at once, my preconceived notions were dust. There’s a classic moment on The Simpsons, where Lisa consumes spicy food and remarks blankly, “I can see through time.” That’s a pretty fair assessment.
The experience taught me that if you can stand a concentrated dose of something for long enough, you will reap the whirlwind, and find thrills you never even imagined. This philosophy informs my entire outlook on both creating and consuming entertainment. Imagine art that overwhelms your senses so acutely, that you’re sweating it out of your system for days afterward, like salty soup.
Anyone who knows me has been bored to tears by my fanatical diatribes about Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. For my entire childhood, it was the most intense film I knew, aside from the animated Transformers: The Movie. I didn’t have access yet to bouillon cubes of violence and wonder like Akira, but I made up for it in college, when I could finally rent from a decent selection (read: they had an ‘Adult’ aisle). Remember, children; prior to the late 1990’s, when it came to what you could watch, you were at the mercy of your environment, or your cable subscription. I had to trek to Forbidden Planet in NYC if I wanted any decent underground comics.
I have many favorite bands, but the #1 spot since 1991 has been avant-jazz noisecore outfit Naked City, comprised of the masters John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Fred Frith, Wayne Horvitz, Joey Baron and Yamatsuka Eye (of my other favorite band, Boredoms). If you’d like to hear my favorite song, hunt down “Shangkuan Ling-Feng” from the album Torture Garden (and Grand Guignol, which is harder to get). It is the perfect summation of a bouillon cube song; a universe of flavors and textures, compressed into under a minute. When I once heard it in a commercial for Sega’s Sonic Spinball, I thought for sure I was having a stroke.
Survey the movies I’ve gone bonkers over in the last 25 years, and you’ll see the bouillon cube again and again. In 1994, Natural Born Killers was released, and I didn’t shut up about it until around 2002. Gummo and Spring Breakers could be argued as heavy doses of despair and lust, and I loved how Harmony Korine committed to the found-footage feel of Trash Humpers. I enjoy barrage comedies like Jackass and Idiocracy, that hurl every possible funny idea at the screen. The hyper-kinetic Fight Club wasn’t just an easy sell on me, several scenes mirrored parts of my own life. I was so enamored with Frank Miller because of the Sin City movie, I was down with his take on The Spirit, which NOBODY liked. I can’t get enough of Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible and Enter The Void, for pushing the envelope clear outside of the post office. Up the dose!! I can take it!!!
This is why I can’t keep quiet about the Michael Bay Transformers movies you hate; each one is a bouillon cube of action, hot girls, and the robot toys I’ve been obsessed with since I was 12. Those robot toys, by the by, are little condensed marvels that fold into littler toys. The first movie from 2007 is even ABOUT a cube! Cubes within cubes, man! IT’S CUBES WITHIN CUBES!
I applied this ethos to the first motion picture I made, John’s Arm:Armageddon. I intended to bring the world of John’s Arm to the big screen, as an aegis for all the sickest and grossest jokes that me and my stoned buddies could cough up. And holy shit, since I know you haven’t seen it, let me tell you that it features the longest 40 seconds of your life; a man drinking a cup of fresh piss in which a cigarette has been extinguished. I meant this as the stamp of a “midnight movie”, to place it alongside gross-out titans like Pink Flamingos.
This is the litmus test. If the taste of the bouillon cube is too much for you at this point, spit it out. No one will judge you.
But remember; the rest of the journey may yield experiences you will never know.
If you’re here reading comics on my site, you’re already halfway assimilated. Every BIUL strip is a bouillon cube of my ideas and emotions. This is why “a lot of the material is repeated”, as Peter Griffin says; I cram so much shit into each strip, I inevitably cover the same ground. I have the same issue with articles I write. And Peter Griffin hails from a TV show I enjoy, wherein every episode contains as many gags as will fit in 22 minutes. (The seasons of The Simpsons that you consider the peak followed this formula as well.) This is why I try not to lash out when people hate on Family Guy; I often forget how much it is to take. If you don’t like to be saturation-bombed with jokes, watch something like “Big Bang Theory”. I never noticed any bothersome humor on that program.
When you experience nature, you go somewhere that you can be overwhelmed by its beauty. This is the bouillon in its natural habitat. I still reminisce on a Boy Scout hike in the Catskills, sometime in the 1980s, when I turned to see an endless range of green mountains, the shadows of the clouds gliding over them like looming spacecraft. Here in Atlanta, despite its urban setting, I see a sunset worthy of a Renaissance painting about every day (and don’t get me started on the females). Natural beauty is the everlasting Gobstopper of eye candy.
I hope this new theory promotes a greater understanding betwixt You, The Consumer, and Me, The Cartoonist. When things seem too much to take, remember the Bouillon Cube. Grit your teeth and knuckle up. All things must pass, and when they do, you will be stronger and wiser. Words, cartoons, movies and music cannot hurt you. Watch out for those who claim otherwise. They are the ones who fear.
So knock ’em into little cubes if you have to.