Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Comicon This Weekend in T.O.

Oh yeah, and I'll be at the Paradise Comicon in Toronto ( this weekend promoting our book, Parting Ways, which I illustrated with the help of the amazing Nick Craine ( The book was written by the equally amazing Andrew Foley. You can find me and Nick, and Northwest Passage creator Scott Chantler ( (collectively forming the Safety First comics crew) at Artist's Alley near the back of the room. This is a great place to go comics shopping because the dealers and artists always give great discounts at these shows, and the artists will sign your book if you buy it from them... maybe even draw you a picture in there!

Scott Mooney

Juggle the Piercing Fearless

Just a medley of neat stuff that has found it's way to my attention in the last couple of hours.

1. Chris Bliss is a juggler. Not just any old juggler. Imagine juggling as a medium for musical interpretation, insert an awesome Beatles song (Golden Slumbers) and see what happens. Here's the link to watch the video. (Special thanks to Paul Cutright for forwarding it to me).

2. Gareth Lind, who I've been interviewing gradually on this blog, sent me this link to a beautifully crafted comic story called "Piercing" created by artist David Gaddis. It's also a great example of "silent" or wordless comics, a particular interest of mine.

3. I just watched the movie "Fearless" for probably the fourth time. (Not the new Jet Li kung fu movie... which looks like it's going to be totally awesome!) The one I'm talking about was made in 1993 ( directed by Peter Weir (director of The Dead Poets Society, and the Truman show, and a large number of other excellent films). I watch it every couple of years, and each time it's a new movie. I get something different from it every time. It's got a great cast, all working in the top of their form in this one. Jeff Bridges, Isabella Rosalini, Rosie Perez (who I think steals the show, her acting is so good in this movie... I never realized that she's so good before tonight) and Benicio Del Torro. What do you mean you've never heard of it?!;) This is a movie about faith... not religion. What is faith? Is it the choice to not be afraid... or to not allow fear to dissuade you from the path you want to take? Maybe fear plays an important role in our lives, if we indulge in it wisely.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Weltschmerz! Controversy? Q2.

Several posts ago I started interviewing Gareth Lind, creater of the edgy political satire strip, Weltschmerz. His new book, "Weltschmerz Attack of the Same-Sex Sleeper Cells" is available now. You can order the book, and read the strip at Lind's blog/archive at Here's question 2 in our interview. (You can click the image above for a larger view)

Scott Mooney: I generally avoid dealing with politics in my own work because I’m always insecure about my understanding of the issues. I can’t help but feel it takes a lot of courage to make a stand with your art. Do you ever get paranoid about how people will react to your work?

Gareth Lind: I figure artists deal best with subject matter they know. I've always been into politics; I'd follow the issues whether I was a cartoonist or not. I've been active in peace groups and other social change organizations. So it comes natural to me. A lot of my best cartoons arise when I'm angry at some idiot for bringing in policies that will fuck up the world even more than it is.

Because I'm printed in alternative papers, I can be pretty out-there without getting any reaction. So, I don't get paranoid. In fact, I wish I'd get more response. Sometimes I'm surprised about what I can get away with (short of the ultimate taboo, portraying Mohammed). I've drawn ex-Ontario Premier Mike Harris gnawing away at the dismembered leg of a squeegie person and pissing on the grave of a Walkerton victim. Not a peep.

Occasionally I'm worried readers will think I'm off the mark, or they won't get a cartoon. I don't always know how much an issue is common knowledge and how much I should explain in the cartoon. I fear being too preachy or didactic. Yet, without some back story, some issues I can't deal with. I bounce my cartoons off a friend sometimes. He may say, "this is obvious; you telegraph the punchline too much," or he'll say, "whaaa?" When the humour relies on some knowledge of political events, hitting it right can be tricky. I may err on the side of too much explanation.

Sometimes I fear I'm too cavalier about an issue that is actually quite serious. For instance, I'm starting a series of cartoons (this Thursday is the first) that will riff on Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. I just make fun of it; I don't come down really hard on it, so some readers may think I'm not critical enough. On the other hand, one character is a terrorist, whom I treat as someone just doing his job (just because it's funny, and that's doing my job). We'll see if anyone reacts either way.

You'd think I'd get angry emails. I don't.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Indiana Jones vs. Tommy Lee Jones

I love a good adventure film. One thing that strikes me as weird though is that the heroes in these films are often as cold blooded a killer as the bad guys. Indiana Jones actually takes pleasure in killing his enemies. Real soldiers in the real world experience trauma from killing people. Not Indiana Jones. I think there is a new kind of killer emerging in the entertainment world... the repentant killer. I just watched The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Tommy Lee Jones tracks down his friend's killer (Played by Barry Pepper) and forces him on an arduous journey of penance. All along we can see that the killer is traumatized by what he's done, and the trauma only grows the longer he holds his terrible secret. Not the cold blooded killer we grew up on in the movies. Have you seen "21 Grams"? Same thing... traumatized killers/would-be killers abound in that one.

I recognize that Indiana Jones isn't about the psychological impact of killing. It's an old fashioned archetypal adventure story. Still I think it's a little weird. When he shoots those 3 German soldiers in their stomachs with a machine gun in "The Last Crusade" they all die instantly and Indiana smiles at his dad all proud of what he's done. We don't see those soldiers writhing in the throes of an agonizing gut shot death (there isn't even any blood). We don't see the the pain of their families at the loss of a beloved husband, son, brother, friend. Instead we say "Yay for Indiana for killing those bad-guys!" There's a line in Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" that says something like "When you kill a man you take away everything he was and everything he's gonna be". This is spoken from a hired killer to his eager young protogé, trying to tear down this kid's romantic notion of being a gunslinging assassin. The kid is unmoved... until his first kill. Then he breaks down, totally traumatized by his own violent act, and swears he'll never kill again.

Conveniently for Indiana Jones, The Nazis seem to be the ultimate symbol of evil in our society for the attempted genocide and the cruelty dealt to their victims. But the soldiers in that army were real people with real hearts and their own thoughts and dreams and loves. Many were forced into service unwillingly, just like so many of the drafted American soldiers in Vietnam. Part of an overwhelming machine of politics and power. Now it's getting harder and harder to point the finger at the Nazi's, or the Russians and say "those guys were evil, not like us good folk" when the American administration are standing accused of similar crimes; kidnapping, imprisonment without charges, torture, illegal invasion of a nation under false pretenses, blatant lying to their own people, rigged elections, disregard for human rights abroad and at home, war profiteering, imperialism, manipulation of the media and the American people... the list goes on. Then we end up with "V for Vendetta", a film where the government is the 1984 Big Brother style bad-guy and a brilliant "terrorist" is the good guy, and an unrepentant killer to boot... like Indiana Jones... and in the context of the film we end up rooting for him, just like Indiana Jones.

It makes for a more complicated villain. Can you even really call them "villain" at that stage? How do they best resolve what they've done? Is prison or death the only answer, or is there something else? I heard a story on CBC radio... I think it was an episode of "Ideas", discussing the idea of Justice. Two men assaulted another in a robbery. The man they assaulted became paralyzed from the waist down. The two parties, with the help of a mediator, came to an agreement that the two assailants would take care of their paralyzed "victim" for the rest of his life, and thus redeem and reform themselves and make the best of what they'd done. Seems pretty logical right? Well, the justice system would not allow for that solution. Instead the two assailants were thrown in jail and the paralyzed victim left impoverished to fend for himself in a harsh world. The tax payers end up having to pay for the assailants' incarceration. Nobody wins, and somehow this means justice was served.

Do you think the rise of the repentant killer in the movies is a sign of American guilt? I notice a couple of Tim Robbins' most famous films are about repentance and redemption. Shawshank Redemption, Dead Man Walking... and Tim is an outspoken pacifist. There are a lot of people who think the current Bush administration is pure evil, and many others who think it's simply bumbling, incompetent and blatantly corrupt. Barely 50% of the population voted him in... and if you believe the rigged election story, less than 50%. MacLean's Magazine this week asks the question, on the cover no less, if W. Bush is the worst president in 100 years. According to the article, on March 16 a Gallup poll showed public opinion of Bush had dropped to 37% approval "one of the worst scores of any president in the modern era." How do you feel proud of your nation under those circumstances? Guilt creeps in. You create a new story about internal struggle, and trying to right a wrong. A fallen character who has the courage to own up and repent or redeem. Villain becomes a hero of sorts. Perhaps this kind of character fills a deep need in the consiousness of a people outraged by their own leader.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Back From the Dead

See this robust energetic super-hero version of me? Add a good deal more body hair and about half the muscle mass and you have the real picture. But what is real, anyway? I experimented with the “if you can see it you can be it” theory. I was so sick and weak I couldn’t even make myself remember what it felt like to be healthy. So I drew this picture and after that I would repeatedly imagine myself effortlessly running a marathon, gliding past exhausted champions, breathing deep and strong. I pictured myself with thick fleshy muscles and a white version of the Flash’s costume on. This visualization actually made me able to breathe deeply without spurring violent paroxysms of coughing... a welcome releif. Another side effect is I can now run on water :-)

Yay for health!