Tomorrow Always Knows

Plus: Sack of Kittens

Tomorrow Always Knows
There's a conservative revolution under way--read all about it in The New Republic and The New York Times--and for the nation's political cartoonists, it must seem like both the best and worst of times. On the one hand, there are plenty of plump, slow-moving targets. On the other, with reality getting so damn weird, how can the lowly satirist keep up?

Full Frontal put that question to Brooklyn resident Dan Perkins, a.k.a. Tom Tomorrow, whose strip "This Modern World" appears in the Dallas Observer and in the neighborhood of 150 other newspapers. Perkins' work blends surreal, squeaky-clean images that hearken back to '50s-era magazine ads with wicked left-leaning commentary. "This Modern World" is "the sharpest strip currently going," according to the back cover of the 42-year-old Perkins' newly released collection of strips, The Great Big Book of Tomorrow. And it must be true, since book covers never ever lie.

In the book there's one strip concerning the Bushes that you repeated, replacing father with son, with each saying simply, "Good evening. Lies, lies, lies. Self-serving hypocritical rhetoric...etc." Do you see a lot of progress being made?

Dan Perkins, right, with Bill O’Reilly. Too much of the media wants to be like Bill, Perkins says.
Dan Perkins, right, with Bill O’Reilly. Too much of the media wants to be like Bill, Perkins says.
Sparky, “This Modern World’s” wisecracking penguin
Sparky, “This Modern World’s” wisecracking penguin

Well, it has been a strange couple of years for me. The reason I repeated that one cartoon is to make a point, which is that I could practically be reusing a lot of work. It's not just the obvious stuff--the president named Bush and the war with Iraq. It's also the tanking economy and the cluelessness of the administration and the corruption of the administration and the oil industry ties and all of these things. It's really just quite odd.

Ever get the feeling you're dealing with people who are immune to satire?

The thing about that is when the target ever does see the cartoon, what tends to happen is they ask for an autographed copy. Senator John Kerry asked for a cartoon once in which I was effectively calling him an ineffectual wimp. I had to think about that one a little bit, but I eventually inscribed it "Please prove me wrong." I like to think that's hanging on his office wall where he sees it every day, but I don't know that it actually is.

Many of your strips deal with media criticism. You're obviously dissatisfied, but what would you like to see the media doing?

I would like to see the media doing their job and not spinning everything so fantastically in favor of the administration. I mean, the whole run-up to war there were no questions being asked. Here's a recent example. You have [MSNBC's] Chris Matthews saying what's the big deal about Arnold Schwarzenegger's unwanted sexual advances? Aren't they the same as Bill Clinton? Well, you know, actually they're not. Bill Clinton had consensual sex with an intern. Admittedly there's an imbalance in the power relation, and it's not a great thing, but it was consensual. Arnold was simply groping strange women. Conservatives like to whine about the liberal media, but the fact is that everyone is trying to play catch-up with Fox News. Everyone is terrified that reporting anything critical about the administration is going to get them branded a traitor. Now that's loosening up a little bit, but only because there's a presidential election coming up and the Democrats are actually growing some hint of a backbone.

Are you finding it harder to keep up as reality gets a little more absurd by the moment? Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger--what can you do with that?

I almost feel like sometimes all I'm really doing is reacting to what happened. Reality has surpassed satire. When I give talks, I always open it up with the video clip of George W. Bush saying, "There's an old saying down in Texas: Fool me once..." and then he can't remember the rest and has this astonishing deer-in-the-headlights look on his face. The point is to say, "This is what I'm up against. How do I satirize this guy?" It's actually kind of a challenge in its own way.

That sounds fatiguing.

I feel the fatigue every week, but this is how I make a living. Like anybody at any job, there are times when I'm just tired. What I'm tired of is all the arguing. It's like we're primates and we're just engaged in this feces-throwing match all the time, and sometimes I just get tired of throwing feces and of being splattered with feces.

Do you ever reach the point of fury where you just throw down your pen and say enough feces throwing already?

That has not happened yet. In fact, I would say that when I do get tired--if we want to extend this unpleasant metaphor--when I do get tired of the feces throwing, it is the sheer anger that actually reinvigorates me and makes me scoop up a new lump to throw. That's a metaphor that I know I'm going to regret someday. --Patrick Williams Sack of Kittens
In this installment of Sack of Kittens: Kwik Buddha. Looks like? Remember when metal bands looked like metal bands? You might not have liked the music, but their black concert tees and long locks were something you could always depend on. It was almost like comfort food, musical mac and cheese. Well, these guys clearly don't remember those days, with their multiple piercings, regrettable facial-hair situations and haircuts that will embarrass them as soon as two months from now. Sounds like? Well, at least they sound like your average metal band. Your very average metal band. Actually, that's probably giving them too much credit. Seriously, it sounds like they're playing with their feet. Too bad they aren't. That'd be worth seeing, at least. Thing that supposedly sets them apart from other average metal bands? They have two bass players. Of course, in their case, that's like having two litter boxes. Two full litter boxes. Which one of these things is not like the other? Meet the members of Kwik Buddha: singer-guitarist D-mon, bassist Pignutz, other bassist Mr. Sinister and drummer, um, Phil. Seriously, that dude needs to man up and pick an equally ridiculous moniker if he's serious about being in Kwik Buddha. A few suggestions: Krazy Muthafukka, Phil M.I. Ballz and our favorite, Landphil. Brings a bit of class to the table, doncha think? Song titles that actually sum up the listening experience? "Kill Me" and "Suffer." Sample lyrics? "Who you fuckin' with?/You know you fucked up/Who you fuckin' with?/You better back the fuck up," from "Floored," off 2002's Coagulant. You don't need to work blue, fellas. You've got a certain Ben Vereen quality I can't put my finger on. Number of kittens in the sack they're currently standing on? Three, and they all have terrible goatees. --Zac Crain

 
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