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August 02, 2006

Tom Hart

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I'm a big fan of Tom Hart, a graphic novelist and comic strip writer/artist whose best-known character is probably the rebel-bum Hutch Owen. Hart is of the alt-weekly school of cartooning, and his work has a fizz and a quirkiness that I find impossible to resist. The stories and concepts have a brainstormy spaciness, while the grubbiness, directness, and informality of the drawing keep the material firmly of this earth. If ever a work could be said to be both whimsical and soulful, "Hutch Owen" is it.

So I'm tickled to discover that Tom Hart writes a blog. It's a charmer -- as perceptive, goofily creative, and human as his comix. In this posting, Hart goes home to Missouri and reflects on how his old stomping grounds now strike him. Nice passage:

The buffet was awesome for 6 bucks. I saw a young woman there who was so cute and dressed so urbanely it made me homesick. Girls like that are few and far between in the flat, rural midwest.

People in the midwest really could not give a shit for Hollywood, or our New York culture, or anything. Strange how still the TV commercials reflect the culture of the coasts.

The world between the coasts is so radically different. People drive to each other's houses just to sit in chairs, drink soda and say hello. Yeah they eat like utter crap, but they like it. They like keeping their tax money. They have jobs, they buy shit, they live and die. They like that just fine, too.

They don't think about other cultures. They don't aspire to make great things. They don't get off on the fruits of their labor. They sit around and tell stories about their childhood, about mutual acquaintances, about illness and trauma and near-misses and shared opinions and advice.

Now that's saying a lot with very little. Which, come to think of it, is what the very best cartoonists do, isn't it?

I'm also tickled to discover that Tom Hart teaches cartooning. I'll bet he's a generous and terrific teacher. Now, if only I had some talent ...



posted by Michael at August 2, 2006


Hey I'm the Tom here. Thanks for the kind words. The URL below (or above) will bring you to a big swath of my strips.

Thanks for reading!

Posted by: Tom on August 2, 2006 8:19 PM

"The world between the coasts is so radically different. People drive to each other's houses just to sit in chairs, drink soda and say hello."

Here in Los Angalese, we're ectoplasmic spirits. We never go to anyone's home but if we did, we'd seep under the doorway.

"Yeah they eat like utter crap, but they like it."

We subsist on sunshine and ambrosia only. Oh well, occasionally we let some caviar and Dom Perignon pass our lips when we're slumming.

"They like keeping their tax money. They have jobs, they buy shit, they live and die. They like that just fine, too."

No one here works. Our time is better spent thinking about culture and other highfalutin' stuff you never ponder. We want to confiscate all your money through coercive taxation. Strangely, we never buy anything. We never die because we are immortal. We like that jess fine too, by dandy!

"They don't aspire to make great things."

That speaks volumes.

"They don't get off on the fruits of their labor."

Except their money, which musn't be taxed.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on August 3, 2006 7:54 AM

How great he's got a website! I've been following his work for a while and love it. And I love your description of his work, Michael! The web rulez!

Posted by: georgia on August 3, 2006 8:40 AM

I think I'll go on loving that midwest mentality...from a distance.

Posted by: ricpic on August 3, 2006 11:34 AM

The midwest is great. I've been to both coasts, and the living in the midwest is probably the best anywhere. There is no hegemonic midwest mindset. That's the same goofy generalization as saying there is a bicoastal mindset. Naw, its all a gross simplification.

Posted by: s on August 3, 2006 4:32 PM

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