If there’s one thing I’m certain of, more so than I am that the earth is round, it’s that you and I are different. I don’t know you personally, but I’d bet my bottom dollar we wouldn’t click. I know this from a life of experience. That, and every single person I encounter informs me of thus.
You might think I have a problem with being “different”. I don’t. You do. Out of some deluded sense of camaraderie you felt from one of my comics, you thought I was “like you”. Then, when you realized you were wrong, you attacked me. You all do this. On the internet, on Facebook, to my face. I’ve dealt with this shuck-and-jive routine my entire life. I’m not what you want me to be, so you decide you’re gonna give Big Bad Matty Boy a piece of your mind. Because I’m apparently your little toon-scribbling monkey. Time to bring me down a peg.
“We’re really different”, I hear from friends, girlfriends, enemies, everyone aside from the creators of work I admire. You’d be surprised how well I get along with them. Oh, but all the mainstream movies, music and TV I can’t stand to sit through- I must be some snobby pill who turns his nose up at everything. It couldn’t possibly be refinement from a lifetime of passion and careful study. Naw, I’s just a snooty-pants.
We’re really different, you say. In other news, water is wet. What you don’t realize is HOW different you and I are. We’re hardly the same species. You view Facebook as a worthy use of time and not a festering cancer, but that’s just the beginning. It’s time to reaffirm the entertainer-audience relationship you and I have. Hopefully this will promote a greater understanding between us in the future. Yes, we are very different.
To begin with:
1. I started drawing (and reading) at age two. TWO. That means I’ve been drawing for 40 of my 42 years on this planet. I use two as a starting point because the first dated evidence is an obvious rose I drew in 1974. I’d show you, but that means I have to dig through the belongings of my dead parents, and fuck you, you aren’t worth nearly that much trouble.
And yeah. I could read at age two. Don’t ask what my IQ is. In school I had friends in the “200 club” to keep up with. Education had not yet been demoralized in the 1970s.
2. A book I drew and “self-published” rested in my grade school library, complete with card, until sometime after I graduated to junior high. In 4th grade I first attempted to create my own language. In 6th grade I was nearly expelled for drawing extremely realistic naked ladies. I once made a fake magazine in colored pencil that was so believable, a friend of my mother’s ruined it by putting a wet flower vase on it, and my mom had to explain to me that my work was honestly mistaken for the real deal, and not destroyed out of jealousy.
3. Before I was ten I was such a good tap dancer that I was the only boy in a class full of girls. I idolized Gregory Hines. Oh, and also I played the violin. Anything that attracted the girls was all I cared about. Girls used to be a lot cooler. They actually cultivated personalities, and weren’t all pathologically obsessed with the same stupid trivial shit.
4. Because of my aforementioned library book, I was invited to a huge “Young Authors’ Convention” in New York. Before I was twelve.
5. At numerous points from the late 80s into the 90s, I wrote poetry and recited it. Around 1996, I was doing it in front of a mic at a coffee house. Because my balls are just that huge, and also, the women.
6. In reality, my genitals are outsized enough to result in nicknames, for example “Horsenuts”, when I was a freshman in college. I don’t talk about it much because I am a gentleman, plus the reveal is always sweeter that way, and nobody likes a showoff. Speaking of which…
7. You have never encountered a vainer man than I. I am acutely aware of how roguishly handsome I am. I’ve been called many things; ugly ain’t one of ’em. My father was a good-looking ad man and my mom was an Italian girl who looked like Natalie Wood. I actually stop cold in front of mirrors and admire myself for minutes at a time. Often I shoot a sly glance at what I see and say “oh, yeah”. That is not a joke. If that pisses you off, then this’ll kill you: I have never been fat. Not even overweight. I’m barely 20 pounds over what I weighed in high school, and I’m in terrific shape for someone who sits at a drawing board all day. Plus I’m sliding into middle-age and women guess I’m 15 years younger than I am. Which brings us to…
8. I was a lead stage actor in the 1990s and was voted Best Actor twice by the city paper. I love acting- LOVE IT. Especially the part about making out with gorgeous ingenues on stage. (Or anywhere. Jacuzzis, for example.) That’s all I should say; as I’ve stated, I am a gentleman. But striding downstairs into a packed lobby after a sold-out show, receiving that many adoring female gazes upon greeting the audience… that is one of many memories I will cherish for a long damn time.
9. If you’re wondering when my comics were first published in a “real newspaper”: 1991. Except for the 48 days I was in jail in 2013, there hasn’t been a major lapse in publishing since then. I did a traditional collegiate humor strip from 1991-1996, and I’ve done other strips as well as single-panel gigs ever since. This is why I get mean when I feel someone treats me like an underachiever or an amateur. I’m used to it, though. The average American thinks comics naturally occur, like thunderstorms or gay dudes. In any case, I’ve been a published cartoonist for over half my life, and it’s your fucking fault if you’ve never heard of me, not mine. You’re the one who acts like you’re so “different”, after all. I’m only your standard for it.
10. As I’ve delineated before, I spent 48 days in one of the worst jails in Georgia. I experienced exactly zero problems. I did not alter or disguise my personality one iota; in fact, I reveled in it, even during staredowns. Your mileage may vary. Oh, and I was sent there because I used an aluminum baseball bat on a trespasser. I was one of the only inmates who was there for violence. And all this was cleaned from my record, because my accuser couldn’t be bothered to show up for court. They took my bat though.
Let me repeat; my balls are large.
11. I can spell any word I’ve seen, out loud and too fast for you to keep up. I could spell “encyclopedia”- both ways, e and ae- when I was 5. I’d be playing in the front yard, and the hippie kids from up the street would ask me to spell “encyclopaedia” for their stoned friends’ amazement. Their reaction is part of why I’m such a champion speller. I could’ve competed in bees, but that’s a ton of pressure to put on a kid. In any case, I’d love to hear about any typos you find in my comics. Let me save you the effort: there aren’t any.
12. One of the ways my wonderful dad encouraged me was to take me to the MAD magazine offices, which at the time were on Madison Avenue near his work. The Alfred E. Neuman statue from Up The Academy was in the lobby, which was rather quiet. I got to interrupt and meet Mort Drucker and William Gaines, unsurpassed caricaturist and founder of EC Comics, respectively. Both were enormously cordial to my 9-year-old self, and signed my little autograph book. Mort signed it exactly as he would his art, and after we left, me glowing from being gifted several back issues from a giant storeroom, my dad complained that Gaines had scribbled in my book. “He must’ve been testing his pen,” Dad surmised. “No, Dad,” I said, opening the book to show him. “See? He wrote ‘Eccccccchhhhhhhhhhhh‘.”
13. I saw Chuck Berry perform at the Ritz in 1990. I saw Stevie Ray Vaughan play alongside Jeff Beck and Terry Bozzio, just months before he tragically died. I hung out with and bought a beer for El Duce of the Mentors, not long before his death. I watched Vic Chesnutt sing “Tracks Of My Tears” with Bill Frisell and Viktor Krauss. I saw GWAR so many times in the 90s that I actually have a scar from a gash I received in a mosh pit. I’m lucky enough to have seen John Fahey play. I was raised on classical, not rock. My dad wanted me to have some musical appreciation, and not to grow into a one-track dullard. You know, like all these people nowadays who only listen to one style of music, and act like they’re hot shit. How often do you break from rap or hip-hop to enjoy some Philip Glass, or Freddie Hubbard? Yeah. Call me a snob. You’re a goddamn ignoramus and you know it.
14. I only started drawing superheroes as a teenager, out of necessity while trying out for the Big Two. I did not grow up drawing superheroes, or even reading about them. Superheroes to me were mad, hella gay. Lots of idealized musclemen with penciled-on tights, grappling with other musclemen. Just looking at them felt fetishistic to me, before I had a clear idea of what that was. I loved drawing the women, but rendering big shiny beefcakes left me cold. All that Marvel and DC stuff fell into the same category as He-Man and Hulk Hogan for me: big, beefy, sweaty grapplers ready to pull confused kids out of the closet. I came around to superhero comics through Batman: The Animated Series, which was wise enough to tone down the bulging crotches and rippling musculature, and replace them with strong, bold aesthetics and design. I laugh when grown men argue over superheroes. It’s like watching a debate on how gay porn should be lit.
15. On that note, I was brought up in a grand era, where it was considered rude to discuss politics, religion, or sexuality. You know, the opposite of Facebook. So all I can do is laugh at how you all find reasons to bicker and snipe. I have no problems with the L or the G, but because I don’t believe the B exists and I’m uncomfortable with the T, I’m considered a homophobe by thin-skinned Social Justice Warriors. Where do all those bisexual men go, anyway? I’m not asking because I’m interested, I’m asking because bisexual men seem to morph into regular gays after a few years. And since I believe gay people are born gay, that would suggest that bisexuality is an unhealthy facade, brought on by societal prejudices. I’ve known oodles of gays and lesbians in my life thus far, and you know what- they’ve been admirable human beings by a gigantic percentage, so their feelings are worth a damn to me. Don’t you think you might be hurting them by casually categorizing them by their proclivities? Does that not imply that you think all people of a certain type- gays, lesbians, or even black people- think and act the same way? Why am I being so rude to you when you’re the visitor here? Well…
16. I’m not a nice guy. I know this is hard to believe if you’ve read anything I’ve ever written, but I’m not. I abuse substances to mitigate it, because I’m a goddamn artist and don’t you forget it, but if you had any clue what it takes for me just to get out the door to be among other humans, you would abide my every excess with a smile. The bile I let you see is sugar frosting compared to the smelting acid I have simmering inside myself. For every joke I make that you say goes too far, I have five more I’m stifling because they’re even worse. I’m the kid who screamed “FIGHT!” on the playground when the bully hit the nerd. I watch Bumfights and Irreversible for laughs. I think idle threats, preferably shrieked at an ear-splitting volume, are uproariously funny. I love the first half of Full Metal Jacket, and how people react to Gummo. My contempt for human phoniness is so focused and profound, I can only really find enjoyment in recordings of heated arguments. I detest music that focuses on lyrics because the voice is the only instrument that can lie. I can’t even listen to five seconds of current pop music without becoming enraged. Due to the functioning ears of women, I am oftentimes alone. The thing is;
17. I like being alone. I can only write or draw while alone, so that is usually what I want. I’m not one of those happy-feets R. Crumb-type cartoonists, who’s can scribble away in front of a crowd with a smile. I’m resentful about the forces that have driven me into a monastic existence, though I alone engineered it, and it’s the only reason I have the skills that I do. I don’t know why I have to explain myself on this; I’ve only had to in the past few years. Now that everybody is dick-deep in each other’s private lives all the time, I’m supposed to compete with your idea of how I should function. I’m under no obligation to live up to your presumption of what I am. What kind of artist would I be if I even cared what you think? You got that backwards. I’m not reading your opinions on your site.
18. Speaking of reading, I’ve read Finnegans Wake cover to cover, and more than a few Thomas Pynchon novels. You quote from the movie adaptation of Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas; I read the book in high school, when it was less than twenty years old. I’ve even read the Qur’an. I like difficult, transgressive fiction. When was the last time you read a book cover to cover? A “hard” one? I know it wasn’t 1984, the year OR the book, because you think Facebook is a good thing.
19. Forsaking the hurt and disgust I feel towards humanity at all times, I still strive to enlighten it with my humor. Can you say the same? How often do you work in your free time, for no monetary compensation? Do you ever stand behind an opinion you didn’t get from South Park? Do you ever criticize someone that fights back, or are you content to nest with people who think exactly like you online?
Can you really handle being “different”?
No. You can’t. That’s why you attack it, because it scares you. You are repulsed by things that are different from you. You pretend otherwise, but it’s true. You’re just like everybody else.
And that is where we differ.
Oh, and I find this hysterically funny, and I seem to be alone on that too: