Life is filled with impossible things. Doing my taxes is definitely one of them.
I once owned a copy of this Will Eisner comic and got a good barrel of laughs out of it back in the day when I was young and full of life and the grim reaper wasn’t standing just outside the kitchen door like he is now.
It had a bunch of useful suggestions on what to do in the face of the two most unavoidable things in life. I wish I could find it once again, but I fear it disappeared when my parents moved from Texas back to the farm in Iowa in the 1990’s. It was probably stolen by someone who wanted to learn the valuable secrets it contained. I accuse Donald Trump. Surely that would explain all those years he paid zero dollars in taxes. And I believe I spotted something with pale orange hair lurking behind the trash bin when my parents were loading the moving van. Of course, it may have been only a dried out tumble weed.
Now, I am not saying that I don’t want to pay my taxes. I have always felt that it was an important part of being a citizen to pay my fair share. And if you want the benefits of government services like schools, fire departments, police forces, court systems, garbage collection, and all those other things we really can’t do without… well, somebody has to pay for them.
But it often seems to me that the whole matter could become considerably more equitable if those people to whom life and the economy have been more generous could see their way clear to pay a little of that good fortune towards common goals. And I am not referring to the Koch brothers spending a billion dollars on elections, either. That’s a transaction where they come out ahead, making more money back than they put in. After all, they got the whole State of Kansas to pour their State funds directly into Koch Industries pocketbooks via tax breaks, effectively allowing them to rob all of Kansas’s public school children of their textbooks and lunch money. How is that equitable and fair?
And paying taxes this year means probably paying far more than my fair share. I recently completed a debt-reduction program to get out from under two decades worth of maxed-out credit cards at 25% to 29% interest rates. And as a further punishment for trying to get free of the burden, credit card banks get to report the forgiven debt as income for me to the IRS. And all of the banks decided this was the year for me to pay that off. Well, except for Bank of America who are petulantly suing me for more money than I owe them. I will probably end up mired back in credit card debt in order to survive the IRS. So how does that square with Mitt Romney paying less than 15%? Or Donald Trump paying nothing?
The only out for me, it seems, is to shake hands and make a deal with old Grimmy. He has patiently waited for me for sixty years, through times when my six incurable diseases definitely gave him hope. The only way to really escape the tax man is to take the really long dirt nap. But I shall scrape funds together and give it one more try. I just wish I could find that book.
(Note *** All the illustrations in this essay except for Mr. Flagg’s Uncle Sam were provided by the late great Will Eisner, the cartoonist so grand that the highest award for cartoonists is named after him. But I am not paying any royalties for these images since I owe my soul to the IRS.)
One work of comic strip art stands alone as having earned the artist, Winsor McCay, a full-fledged exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Little Nemo in Slumberland is a one-of-a-kind achievement in fantasy art.
Winsor McCay lived from his birth in Michigan in 1869 to his finale in Brooklyn in 1934. In that time he created volumes full of his fine-art pages of full-page color newspaper cartoons, most in the four-color process.
As a boy, he pursued art from very early on, before he was twenty creating paintings turned into advertising and circus posters. He spent his early manhood doing amazingly detailed half-page political cartoons built around the editorials of Arthur Brisbane, He then became a staff artist for the Cincinnati Times Star Newspaper, illustrating fires, accidents, meetings, and notable events. He worked in the newspaper business with American artists like Winslow Homer and Frederick Remington who also developed their art skills through newspaper illustration. He moved into newspaper comics with numerous series strips that included Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo in Slumberland. And he followed that massive amount of work up by becoming the “Father of the Animated Cartoon” with Gertie the Dinosaur, with whom he toured the US giving public performances as illustrated in the silent film below;
The truly amazing thing about his great volume of work was the intricate detail of every single panel and page. It represents a fantastic amount of work hours poured into the creation of art with an intense love of drawing. You can see in the many pages of Little Nemo how great he was as a draftsman, doing architectural renderings that rivaled any gifted architect. His fantasy artwork rendered the totally unbelievable and the creatively absurd in ways that made them completely believable.
I bought my copy of Nostalgia Press’s Little Nemo collection in the middle 70’s and have studied it more than the Bible in the intervening years. Winsor McCay taught me many art tricks and design flourishes that I still copy and steal to this very day.
No amount of negative criticism could ever change my faith in the talents of McCay. But since I have never seen a harsh word written against him, I have to think that problem will never come up.
My only regret is that the wonders of Winsor McCay, being over a hundred years old, will not be appreciated by a more modern generation to whom these glorious cartoon artworks are not generally available.
Filed under art my Grandpa loved, artists I admire, artwork, book review, cartoon review, cartoons, comic strips, commentary
Tagged as Little Nemo in Slumberland, Winsor McCay