my new fighting technique is unstoppable

get your war on somehow slithered into my consciousness sometime in 2002. i wish i'd discovered it sooner. in the first months following 9/11, i could have used this kind of caustic humor, the kind that can only come from shock, anger, and disbelief. instead, what we got was a horrendous, watered-down all-star update of the classic song what's going on. no surprise really, as mushy ballads dominated the pop charts during the first gulf war. mainstream culture mellows out in times of great upheaval. it's as though people need a collective artistic seconal drip administered to them 24-7 for the duration of their inability to deal with a stressful world.

david rees takes the opposite approach. he puts all the confusion, rage, hubris, and sadness we experience and witness into a brutal series of comic strips. since the images are all clip art, the characters are all frozen in stasis, as it sometimes feels like we are, watching the horror before us unfold. sometimes the result is much like watching a post-1990 george carlin special; so full of pissed-off, clever diatribes you're left more informed and enraged than anything else. other times, the mix is so over-the-top funny, you just have to stifle your laughter in between quiet mutterings of "i can't believe he just said that". his characters spit out what rational human beings think in the face of irrational world events, but most would never utter out loud.

rees once said in an interview, "what am I going to do now? wait for the next atrocity so I can make a comic about it?" sadly, he doesn't have long to wait and has been churning out strips fairly steadily for the past four years. the subject matter may shift slightly, from afghanistan to iraq to women's rights to the various characters who populate the political spectrum, but he always has something to say, straight from our "shocked and awed" brains.

when i contacted rees about how great i thought his strip was, i also told him he should make a white-on-black t-shirt out of the phrase which his website is an anagram for. within weeks he had them made and on the site for sale and i bought one. i wear it proudly everywhere except neighborhoods where i might be expected to prove its ridiculous claim. those who see the shirt who have never heard of the strip, or its predecessor, most often have the reaction "i don't get it." unfortunately, too many people don't understand the inherent humor in that obnoxious statement, or how often in life we're told something similar which is just as much a fabrication.

the title of this post comes from david rees' website.