Packed with over 110 pages of political cartoons and comix, and clocking in at just under 200 pages of social, political, and religious commentary, WHY DO THEY KILL ME? still isn’t anything close to a distillation of the enormous talents of cartoonist Tim Kreider. I’d never heard of Kreider until Fantagraphics released the first print collection of his cartoons, The Pain – When Will it End?, but now I can’t imagine not having regular access to his go-for-the-jugular satirical cartoons and comix.
The first book revealed a commentator and critic who was both brilliant and crazy, but crazy in the way we describe people who are audacious enough to lampoon and criticize our cowardly and dishonest social and political figures and governmental leaders, even if criticizing them means that Kreider must actually disparage them. For him, there are no sacred cows; if someone or some issue exists in the public eye, he seems to consider it fair game and something worth taking a look behind the surface to find possible rot and lies, and there always seems to be putrefy and dishonesty.
Why Do They Kill Me?, however, focuses on the Dick Cheney presidential administration (popularly, but mistakenly, known as the Bush Administration), and the special interest vultures who thrive on the administration, and also the Iraq War. Kreider even has time to stick it to our living dead former president, Count Reagan. Most of the cartoon entries in this volume come with the author notes/essays that Kreider originally wrote to accompany the cartoons on his website (see the above name link).
Kreider has a quicksilver and quirky line that captures the essence of a character, situation, and environment with uncanny expressiveness. Even without the captions, word balloons, signs, etc, the message or point of a cartoon would be quite clear because the line does not lie. If he’s trying to make fun of someone or some situation, to clarify a point, to make a comparison, to correct a lie, etc., that message is in the cartooning; it’s in the art: the curve of a nice butt, the disrespect of a raised middle finger, the overemphasized bulge that the straps on President Bush’s flight suit made of his crotch, the wide eyes of a screaming, spoiled child, or the furrowed brow of a learned type.
The cartoons inside are a selection of work from 9/11 to late Winter 2005. If you like Bush/Cheney, you may not like this book, but you would if you had a sense of humor. If you hate Bush/Cheney – hate them to the point of preferring, say, Ted Bundy over them – then, this book is for you because you won’t be able to put it down. However, anyone else who considers himself a lover of great satire will adore this. A+