MICHAEL MCCARDLE was born Mikail Zubronskilastki in Muldovia. His father was a local innkeeper and his mother was a happy home maker, until Mikail took the family donkey and rode off to Hawaii where he became a famous local dancer and skirt maker. He grew tired of fame and decided to explore the intricacies of the bizarre music scene in Southern California, which he quickly decided was dumb and now he doesn’t talk to anybody. Mike is the author of the zines Dumb Hills, The End is Neat, Fuck You Tony and Fuck You Tony 2. He posts new work on instagram, and his zines can be found at Victim City. He still resides in San Diego with his dog Doom.
ON IMPROVEMENT AND MAINTENANCE
I always had an ability to draw, but I wasn’t using it. I used to play in bands but now I’m just drawing, and I think I’ve improved. I was moving from punk to weirder music, and I heard about musicians who were drawing, so I said “Oh, I’ll do a zine,” but I didn’t know how you did it. I had only seen zines that were politically motivated, and that was totally different. The people who did zines that I liked were doing big art experiments. I would just go to Kinkos and steal copies, then sell them at shows and that really worked. I would sell them out, and do more and more and more, and despite the lack of guidance I had a really good time doing it.
The last San Diego Comic-Con I had a booth at was the first year the movie studios came out, the year of the first Transformers movie. That was it for me. I was moving away at the time, so I didn’t even think about drawing for like two years. And it’s hard to network with images without giving them away for free. I can’t promote myself — when I meet artists who can, not to trash anyone, but it’s so weird to me. I know it’s super lame to sit on a bunch of material and not sell it, but if I do try to be a salesman, I feel compromised.
But I just keep going. I have my job and I have my dog, and if people want to call me up and do something, I will say yes.
But the rest of the time, you know, I have a high maintenance dog.
ON CRACKING UP
When people pick up a zine and like it, that makes me happy. I want to make people laugh. I do a lot of dark, evil shit, but I really just want people to crack up.
Like anybody, my life has been frustrating and my comics reflect that frustration. I love to affect people on an elemental level, a childish level. People think that it’s shock humor, but it’s not. Someone like Johnny Ryan, I love him — but everyone has the shock card, and if you play it, it’s not interesting. You have to be good at it. I know it makes a red flag go up for some people, but if you’re just waiting for that red flag, that’s a bad way to navigate life. I think satire is a way of conducting a discourse, but it also reflects my personal struggles and I’m trying to laugh at them. I do certain pieces — I’ll be really proud of them, I’ll use pointillism or a lot of black, but they don’t get a lot of positive response. I think people can tell when I’m being bitter instead of laughing, so I do my little comics everyday to deal with the crises. The best way to deal with them is just put them on the table and laugh.
ON KIDS THESE DAYS
I don’t do conventions anymore. I used to do zines and books but I dropped off — it’s only the last three years that people started hitting me up to make stuff. When I’m not working I spit out drawing after drawing after drawing. If this trend keeps up then maybe I’ll pop up again.
I think I do myself a disservice with my range of work, because it’s so vast that I don’t know how to distribute it. I have these raw drawings where I just have a sketchpad and I spit them out. Pieces like Cannon, I’m taking lyrics from my old band and turning them into drawings. And I have Tony — he’s the best, the one I’ve had the most fun with. I’m happy to do full color pieces with him but they don’t translate well to zines.
Nowadays the only way you can steal copies for zines is if you’re an administrator at an office somewhere. But a lot of kids, I want them to know how good they have it — they’re putting out these nice zines that look really slick, and I think that’s great.
But they make me feel old. (laughs) Not grumpy, though.
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Want to be considered for future installments of The New Comics? Send your work to Comics Curator Keith McCleary via the Entropy submissions page.