BAck to work

After a brief break, I’m back to work on Sleeper, working on the tenth story, editing a couple of previous tales, and fine-tuning the website preparatory to launch later this month.

Not that I’m not also preoccupied by the horrific events in Paris. In my 31-year career at the Rocky Mountain News I never really worried that anything I drew would compromise my safety or that of my co-workers. Yes, there were occasional threats by people who were offended by my work, but nothing I took too seriously. I did call the police twice, and they took care of the problems, warning people that making those threats was illegal. In both cases, the offended parties backed off.

I’m frankly more worried by the response of so many American newspapers which chose not to show their readers the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. That the very newspapers STEIN0928which ran defiant cartoons by their own staffers showing the pen mightier than the sword were afraid to offend radical jihadists spoke volumes about who won this round in the war against free expression. I drew this cartoon in 2001 after 9-11, and I think it’s still timely.

Anyway, back to Sleeper Ave. I may upset some people on occasion, but I don’t think anything I draw or write for my new feature is likely to provoke jihadists. So it should be perfectly safe for you to sign up to receive the new stories as I post them. You can do that below or at


Am I charlie?

It’s taken me a little while to try to come to terms with the carnage in Paris.  As a cartoonist and journalist, I share the overwhelming sense of horror and revulsion most of us feel. What these jihadist morons did was sickening beyond belief, yet another reminder that Western civil society is under increasing threat from an ideology that rejects an open, multi-cultural world view, and rejects it violently. What’s most terrifying is that it only takes a few dedicated extremists to cause enormous damage.

That said, I’m already a little tired of the deluge of cartoons by my ink-stained compatriots valiantly proclaiming, in one metaphor or another, the power of the pen over the sword. A bit too easy and glib for my taste, especially since the guys with the pen were butchered. I doubt that any of our American artists worried for one second that their lives would be in jeopardy because of yesterday’s cartoon celebrating the ultimate triumph of their drawing tools over AK-47s.

And let’s be honest about Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons. They weren’t what I would call genuine editorial cartoons, designed to make a specific editorial point. They were deliberately offensive broadsides, more adolescent sniggering than thoughtful comment. Not that there’s any excuse for murdering their creators, but let’s not pretend they were attempting serious journalism. In some ways, this makes the attacks worse. The killers were incensed not by an intellectual critique of their religious practices, but by a silly insult. As an editorial cartoonist I wouldn’t have drawn those cartoons. I never minded offending my subjects, but I never wanted to do it just for the sake of offending.

Another theme in yesterday’s editorial cartoons was the terrorists’ bullets striking Islam itself, often represented as a mosque. A version of this theme has Allah decrying the stupidity of the shooters. These, I thought, were marginally better cartoons, more substantial than the power of the pen drawings.

It’s not easy to come up with a really good cartoon on deadline in reaction to breaking news like this, especially when it hits so close to home, so I give my guys some slack. I might have done something similar. What I’m hoping to see in the next few days are some cartoons that delve deeper into the complex issues this incident raises. For instance, this isn’t all about free expression vs. oppression. There’s an irreconcilable  ideological conflict here between those of us who believe in a democratic, tolerant social structure and those who fervently believe in an autocratic theocracy. How do we protect our society when those conflicting world views clash? What has given rise to the growth and spread of jihadism? How do we contain it?

And what will any of us have the courage to draw if we know our life is in danger? I don’t honestly know what my answer would be.




Number 9, Number 9

Just finished story number 9 (about, sort of, with some other stream of consciousness stuff thrown in) the emotional aftermath  of the tornado that hit my hometown when I was a kid. I want to have ten in the vault before I launch, my GodworksAAnew webcomic about growing up in the 50s and 60s, so I’m getting really close to being able to go live, which honestly scares me. I’ve never been without the safety net of a newspaper or syndicate hawking my wares, so I’m going to be out there all alone.

Sign up below if you haven’t already, and you can help me build audience by spreading the word, for which I will be in your debt.

Coming this month–Yay!

I’m still on track to launch Sleeper Ave.  later thisGodworks9 month. After a break for New Year celebrations, I’m back at it, with a new story about the emotional aftermath of the massive tornado that ripped through Waco, Texas, my hometown, when I was a young boy. If you haven’t already signed up, please do, below or at And spread the word; building audience is the real challenge for those of us working entirely on the web. No newspaper or syndicate behind me this time. I’m on my own, and your help is much appreciated.

Happy New Year.

Coming Soon

I finished the eighth Sleeper Ave. story last week and took a bit of a holiday break.  Amazing what a little time off can do to the creativity. Came up with a batch of new ideas for stories, one Mexican1of which I’m diving into now.  I’m still on schedule to launch the new website next month. If you haven’t already, sign up to get each new tale in your inbox when I post it. You can do that below or by going to It’s not an active website yet, but you can register there.


Revisions, revisions

I just read the news that Jack Davis, the fabulous caricaturist best known for his Mad Magazine work, has decided to hang ‘em up at age 90.  He’s no longer satisfied with the quality of his work (which by any standard but his own is sill head and shoulders above what almost anyone else could create).

SuperEdI don’t claim to have a fraction of his talent (In my dreams I’m a super artist), but I understand his frustration. I’m never completely satisfied with any of my drawings. Daily deadlines had a way of making that particular concern go away; I just ran out of time and had to go with what I had. Now that deadlines aren’t driving the work,  I tend to obsess about the drawings (lots of them) that I don’t think are quite right. So I spend an inordinate amount of time redoing them, which is starting to interfere with building enough backlog for next month’s launch of Sleeper Ave.

So, I’m self-imposing a weekly deadline for each story. Maybe that way I can fool myself into letting go and getting on with the next tale.

I hope you’ll sign up below or at so you can get each new story in your email whenever I post a new one.  Which will be soon, I promise.

Please note: several folks have asked me if  they will automatically get Sleeper Ave because they’re already getting these posts from me. The answer at this point is is no, you need to sign up for the new feature.

Please do.

TV dreams

Starting work on the seventh Sleeper Ave. story today, hoping to launch the website next month. This one’s about getting our very first television set, now that there were TWO channels to watch.

It’s hard to believe today, with a thousand mostly useless channels available (maybe six of which any of us watches regularly), that so much great entertainment was to be had from such limited sources.Antenna8

Perhaps it’s just nostalgia for the shows I watched as a kid, but I still think tv was better and more inventive then.

If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll sign up to receive my stories when I post them.

Your Help Requested

Yesterday, after much trial and error–mostly error–I finished Sleeper Ave. story number 6, a chilling tale of musical terror entitled The Kindergarten Band.

I’m getting closer and closer to launching the webcomic, and here’s where you, dear reader, can be a big help. If you haven’t already, sign up to receive each new story in your inbox atBand2

Here’s where I could use your help. I was spoiled by working at the Rocky, where I had a built-in audience of 250,000, not to mention syndication that reached 8 million. So, naturally, I still want lots of people to read what I’m doing next. Tell your friends and family, send out notices to your email list, that something new and original they will love is coming, and have them sign up, too. My goal is 1,000 subscribers by the time I launch. I’m only about 1/3 of the way there so far.

Thank you.

Fifth Business

Finally, after a most unwelcome surprise, the death of my beloved old MacbookPro, and after a most welcome interruption, a Thanksgiving visit from my kids, I managed to finish the fifth Sleeper Ave. story, about the advent of the television age.

Antenna cutWhat’s surprising and fun about these trips into ancient memories is how fresh they seem when I push myself recall them.  Sometimes my mind doesn’t conjure up just the facts of the event, but also the emotions I felt–the totality of the experience–the texture as well as the substance of the time.

What I realize in those moments is how impossible it is to portray all that in a short story made of up imperfect words and pictures that can’t begin to convey the richness of the experience.

I only hope that my efforts capture enough of the essence  that readers can catch at least a whiff of it.

You can sign up here to start receiving the stories in your inbox when I launch the feature, which I’m aiming to do just after the first of the year.

Black People Don’t Get It

After the deaths of young Black men at the hands of police in Ferguson and Staten Island, the most recent in a long string of killings of minorities by the authorities, men and women of color all over the country have risen up in protest.

Black people, calm down. You clearly just don’t get it.

All this talk about equal rights and social justice and a color-blind society–it’s a joke. We’re not serious. We’re joking, just having a little laugh at your expense. Jeez, you’d think that after all this time you’d have figured it out.

You don’t really think that White people actually want you to share what we have, do you? Good jobs, decent pay, regular hours, safe communities–those belong to us, and we’re keeping them for ourselves. Did you honestly think we were actually inviting you to have a seat at the table? Boy, are you gullible.

Okay, so the joke went a little farther than we intended when a Black man somehow got elected president. We had a heck of a time keeping him down–for the longest time he actually seemed to think he really was in charge– but we’ve managed to neuter him pretty well. And we fixed the problem with all the new voter suppression tactics like strict ID laws and limited polling place hours.  Not going to happen ever again. We learned our lesson.

So, take my advice. Cool the rioting and demonstrations; they won’t get you anywhere. Just relax and go with the flow and save yourself a lot of needless anxiety and stress. Nothing’s ever going to change. The sooner you accept that the happier you’ll be.

And remember, nobody likes someone who can’t take a joke.


The online home of editorial cartoonist, writer and analyst Ed Stein.