My wife and I have recently become obsessed with the British television comedy The Thick of It, after having seen the movie adaptation of the series, In The Loop. It's superbly written, and all the actors in the series and the film do an amazing job as ineffectual, self-important bureaucrats vying for power in a fictional department in the UK government. But the show would be nothing without Peter Capaldi's portrayal of Malcolm Tucker, Director of Communications for the Prime Minister.

Malcolm Tucker is the most wrathful, vulgar, cruel, and just friggin' hilarious character that's graced the idiot box in a long time. Watching him bend the other characters to the PM's will and spin their public foibles into something manageable is like watching an obscene Baryshnikov perform political ballet in a blinding haze of spite and vitriol.

It's fantastic, so I went ahead and drew him. For my wife. As an anniversary gift.

If you're interested, I'd highly recommend picking up In The Loop. Or, you can start on YouTube with this montage of Malcolm's best bits. I warn you, though: I am not kidding about the vulgarity, this is massively NSFW stuff.

B is for Bomb-Throwing!

Monday Sketcharoo! 2 Ask the man on the street how to create a successful product, and he'll most likely respond with some platitude about innovation and research. But what he won't tell you is that he's an idiot, and the street he's on is South Moron Ave. Because creating a successful product as nothing to do with innovation, research, creativity, competence or anything else they teach you in those stuck-up, can't-get-into-without-having-graduated-junior-high-style business colleges. The key to creating a successful product is looking at the marketplace, seeing what's already successful, then copying it.

To take a relevant example, look at William "The Jolly Roger" Powell's 1971 classic The Anarchist's Cookbook. The author saw two already successful products, anarchism and cookbooks, and synergized them into a popular new product, perfect for those anarchist housewives looking to try out fun new recipes (I assume - I haven't actually read the book). Inspired by The Jolly Roger's double-up piggy-back, we decided in 1972 to develop our own line of anarchist-related books for the family. And we had all sorts of great ideas for titles in the series, like The Anarchist Guide to Etiquette, Spain for Anarchists, and Talking to Your Teens About Puberty (and Anarchism), to name a few.

Unfortunately, we were only able to publish one title, A is for Anarchy: An Anarchist's Alphabet.

C is for COP!

Citing an enthusiastic endorsement from Abbie Hoffman emblazoning the cover, our publisher reported more copies of A is for Anarchism were stolen then sold. Hence, they canceled the rest of the series. Lesson learned? Maybe sometimes the success of a product isn't measured in units sold. Maybe, just maybe, it can be measured in the amount of money won from a favorable verdict in a breech of contract lawsuit.

ALSO, in case you are wondering why I wasn't able to post anything last week, you have this man to blame:

Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle, son of Steve Earle and namesake of  country music legend Townes Van Zandt, has been touring in support of his fantastic new album Midnight at the Movies, and I was lucky enough to catch his show at the Tractor Tavern last Monday. Sorry about that! Well, not really.

By the way, I have been to a lot of concerts here in Seattle, and I defy any locals to name a better venue than the Tractor Tavern. I love that place.

yes we did!


Driving home from an election party last night, Amber and I came across a police barricade behind which 4,000 insanely happy Seattlites chanted, danced and shouted. Heading towards the throng, looking for a parking spot, we nearly hit a topless woman flagrantly disregarding the Don’t Walk sign. The event was incredible. Fueled by sheer joy (and plentiful beer), Capitol Hill spontaneously exploded into a celebratory frenzy, taking their isolated parties to the corner of Pike and Broadway to merge together into one chaotic expression of excitement and relief. Folks were climbing on street signs, leading people in cheers of “O-BAM-A, O-BAM-A!” American flags were being hung and waved everywhere. Smiles, high-fives and Miller Lites were shared freely. Someone hooked up a speaker on a nearby rooftop and the crowd participated in a singalong to the dance remix of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” Hipsters loudly repeated “USA! USA! USA!” unironically. Fireworks blazed up into the sky, briefly drawing attention to the three helicopters monitoring the festivities from above. All this while the police stood guard, smirking and periodically getting asked to have their pictures taken with a reveler.

I’m so happy I was able to be part of that celebration, happy to live in a city whose priorities include active political participation and indulgence in the true meaning of the term “political party.” But more than that, I’m happy that last night America said no to the politics of fear, no to business as usual in the other Washington, and no to an ideology that is dangerous for both Americans and the rest of the world. I don’t anticipate things will get better immediately, but I’ve got this strange feeling – I think it’s called “hope”- that over the next few years, with a lot of work and effort from both the government and the citizenry, we can ensure America lives up to the principles set forth by its founders.

Yesterday was a good start. Let’s keep the party going.


(Poster courtesy of Christopher David Ryan. Get your own, printable version here)

A Very Maryniuk Marriage

Monday Sketcharoo!Heyheyheyheyheyheyhey! Tomorrow is the big day! Time to find out if Obamarama will sweep the nation, or if instead I'll have to immigrate to Canada! EXCITING TIMES! Since I voted last Saturday, I've got nothing to do tomorrow but sit on pins and needles and hope McCain supporters spontaneously combust at the polls (haha, I kid! It doesn't have to be spontaneous).* And speaking of flammable McCain supporters, my friends Jonathan and Krista were recently wed in Kelowna, BC, a beautiful town at the heart of the BC wine industry and home to Lord Chumley's Seafood Restaurant (true fact!). My wife and I, together with a few friends, decided to turn the trip into a camping excursion, which was loads of fun once I muscled past my minor camping anxiety that - since I was asked to MC the event - was compounded by performance anxiety, and further exacerbated by my ever-present anxiety about existence in general. Along with me on this trip I brought a sketchbook I've dedicated to immortalizing precious moments, images from which I will now share.


And mark this date: today's the first time a Monday Sketcharoo features actual sketches!


*No, really I am only kidding. But please, I beg you, don't vote for McCain.

You mean they make more then beer up there?

Blanchet Poster

This poster was illustrated by Pascal Blanchet, a man whose abounding creativity leaps right off the page and kicks the viewer in the face. It was created in response to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “bare-bones approach to arts-funding” (to quote Canadian author Yann Martel, who has decided to protest in his own unique fashion). Oh, for those of my readership who don’t know Harper’s reputation, he’s basically the George Bush of Canada. Yeah, that bad.

Now, as a red white and blue-blooded, bald eagle making out with, Iraqi-invading under false pretenses American, I have been appalled time and again to discover my favorite cartoons and cartoonists are –good lord,choke!- Canadian. “The Cat Came Back,” CANADIAN. New Yorker-esque cartoonist extraordinaire Seth, CANADIAN. “Ren and Stimpy” creator John K, CANADIAN. Chester Brown, CANDIAN (okay, so considering his magnum opus is a biography of Louis Riel, I saw that one coming). I suppose when the weather constantly forces you indoors, you have to find something to do with your time.

Well, here’s a salute to those hard-working Canadians artist, and here’s hoping Harper and his conservative cronies will get their TimBits handed to them this coming election.

For more Pascal Blanchet, who makes amazing comics himself, go here. You will not be disappointed.