Hey, remember when you made art about weird shit happening in post-apocalyptic landscapes, never visiting the same idea twice, always finding something fresh to draw/say, and basically just making things that were actually interesting? Yeah, me too. But I guess nothing good ever lasts in this world.
I've always had a love-hate affair with "Scorched Earth." I did a lot in 2012, took a long break in 2013, did a whole lot more at the start of this year and feel like another break. I started off as a cartoonist and satire comes more naturally, but there's every chance I'll get back to sci-fi when I'm in the mood for it. If the real world's not giving you enough horror, war and violence right now you won't have to look far to find more online.
Thanks for your thoughts, and have a great day!<<
I don’t begrudge anyone who is confused, upset or offended by my recent offerings. If I haven’t met your expectations, many other artists will. I’m not ashamed to admit they have brought more to your favourite genres than I have or am likely to. Their work is technically superior, reveals a deeper affinity with the source material, and they no doubt enjoy it more. This last point’s the most salient. I’m not being paid for the work you’ve seen and I’d rather do work I enjoy.
I should also apologise to anyone who has assumed I’ve adopted extreme or reactionary views. This is understandable. There’s only so much a cartoon can convey, my viewers come from many backgrounds, and not all humour translates well. Again it would be fastest if I post a comment and reply:
Aaaaaaaalright, absolutely loved your work, but doubling down on this like you have? Enjoy pandering to the reactionary right-wing crowd for some cheap, temporary popularity, I guess. I can live without this in my feed.
I've upset someone? Big surprise.
On the off chance you're still around, this isn't a cheap attempt to get noticed. Run a search on "jflaxman" and what do you see? Horror, sci-fi and war machines. My satirical work, which routinely savages ostensibly "cute" characters and questions beliefs of all kinds, has never been so popular, but I personally enjoy it more. If I wanted more attention I'd stick to "safer" subjects like warfare, mutilation and death, but there's enough of this already, online and in the real world.
Have you ever heard of a cartoonist called Bill Watterson? Did you ever read his "Calvin and Hobbes?" Its blend of wit and wisdom helped me through some dark nights of the soul, and for all its popularity, its author never franchised it. Have you seen Preston's take on the strip? I saw a close Sydney acquaintance consumed by the same thirst for wealth and contempt for integrity, and his attempts to please everyone gave the world insipid trash that failed to showcase his true strengths and has rightly been forgotten. On the rare occasions we've talked he's adopted the same sanctimonious air Preston has often displayed in his work, possibly to compensate for failures of imagination.
Why else might you be offended? This isn't a call to arms or an endorsement of militarism. I view my country's latest commitment to what may in time prove to be another long and costly war with a very healthy skepticism. I'd rather see our government devote more time to improving relations between different ethnic groups at home.
Do you think I'm attacking Islam? In case you haven't noticed, our world's one billion Muslims are a very diverse crowd, and we'd see far more conflict if fanaticism was the norm. My country's nearest neighbours include the largest Muslim nation on earth, and as in most democracies, the religious extremists there consistently fail to win mainstream support. Most South Asian Muslims view extremists in the Middle East with the same contempt most Christians rightly have for the KKK.
No-one should be denied the right to question, even ridicule, bigotry of any kind, including any I might show. I've taken some risks with this piece, but I've never set out to please everyone. No-one's forced to look at my work, no-one's forced to like it all, and if it offends some, so be it. I'm sure this vast and diverse site can provide visions more to your tastes and sincerely hope you all the best.<<
I hope this has made things clearer, but I don’t begrudge anyone who is still confused, upset or offended! It’s worth noting “A Righteous War” was a response to a request. I never thought it would generate as much discussion as it has, and I’m impressed with the articulate and thoughtful opinions viewers have shown. This includes those of my critics as well as my supporters. At times they’ve been humbling, at other times informative, and in other cases life-affirming.
My own thoughts on the piece are mixed. My subsequent “Crusade” was a more personal take on the matter: it’s not concerned with armed thugs, but old wowsers who believe they should decide what women can wear. This goes for secular progressives as much as religious conservatives. The latter tend to be more brutal, but intolerance can be found on both sides.
I’ve since moved away from such imagery. Going on responses my humour’s been crude but accessible, which is good enough for me right now. Some people might be wondering where this sudden fixation with Preston comes from. There’s actually nothing sudden about it. He’s been on DA far longer than I have; I’m familiar with his work, and actually admire some; and his interesting history – inflation fetishist turned moral crusader – lends itself well to satire. I realise I’ve upset the guy; he doesn’t like being seen as a poster boy for misguided activists. In my defence I don’t think he’s always wrong on every count. I’d also like us all to live in a fairer, freer, safer world. On the other hand Preston has gone to great lengths to make himself a poster boy. Many people now associate the blue bear with social justice in the same way they associate Mickey Mouse with Disney or Ronald McDonald with hamburgers. I don’t have a problem with any of this, though I’ve often found these mascots annoying; their squeaky-clean, love-me personas are a lot less interesting than more realistic ones who share our strengths and weaknesses or exaggerated ones who expound them more vividly. The blue bear is also widely viewed as a joyless, egotistical, hypersensitive, hypocritical bigot, and whatever your thoughts on social justice, this does nothing for the cause.
I honestly don’t hate Tom Preston. I owe him my gratitude. Outspoken preachers of all kinds are a great source of satire, and when the preacher is a small blue bear, drawn by a man who once posed as a female inflation artist, the source becomes a treasure trove. My appreciation should be clear in the time I’ve spent on my cartoons; some legitimate Tom Preston fans might like to see the same from their idol, who has often cast himself as a mentor to aspiring artists. If he viewed things more impartially he’d have less trouble understanding why some old fans are disillusioned. Some of mine are – rightly so – but I don’t hold this against them, and to see better work by younger artists I only have to log on to DA. This is not disheartening. It’s inspiring and rewarding, and if some cranky older self one day inspires parodies he could never replicate he’ll consider it an honour of sorts. We have no right to laugh at others if we can’t laugh at ourselves.
I’d like to thank everyone who’s enjoyed my recent work; extra thanks are due to those who prefer the older work but still follow me regardless. I owe my greatest thanks of all to those new acquaintances who have encouraged and inspired me to try something different, and no less importantly, reminded me art can – and should – be fun.
Good luck with all your projects,