UPDATE (2/8/11, 2:45pm): James Kochalka published a mea culpa comic on his website yesterday. To be clear, I don't know the woman in question and didn't know of any existing letter-writing campaigns regarding Kochalka's Laureate status. I never called Kochalka out for violence against women (in fact, I said I'd like to see what Ashley's friends would do to a portrait of Cooley if given the chance). Further, I never called for him to be stripped of his Laureate status. Over the years, I have often written about the perils of dating in small-town Vermont. When I saw the post on Kochalka's website, I found it worthy of discussion. And, I stand by that -- the comic was provocative and stunning, even for American Elf.
UPDATE (2/4/11, 3:15pm): James Kochalka has removed the comic from his website. See his comment below.
Ask me what section of Seven Days I turn to first, and I say, "American Elf" -- the comic strip by James Kochalka (Vermont's Cartoonist Laureate), seemingly about his everyday life with his wife, kids, friends and cat, Spandy. It's a great strip, always good for a chuckle and sometimes a good life lesson. On a recent trip to Midtown Comics in New York City, I marveled at all of Kochalka's titles and thought, "Man, that guy really is famous!"
However, I just heard about a comic he posted on his website that, I believe, puts a little chink in his armor of awesomeness. In a comic entitled "Ashley Forever" published on Kochalka's website on January 26, the artist explains that he "did a portrait of Jason Cooley's girlfriend but now they're broken up, so he's selling it on Ebay." Cooley is a local rocker, performer and one of Kochalka's buddies. Kochalka goes on to say that he promised Cooley he'd repaint the portrait so that Ashley's head was severed. After writing, "Oh, fuck her. She probably hated me anyhow and she dumped Jason. Off with her head," he does just that, and draws Ashley's disembodied head with blood dripping out of her neck.
Word on the street is that Ashley isn't happy about her recent comic fame. Can you blame her? Going through a breakup is difficult enough without pseudo-celebrities smearing you on their blogs. Hey, it's great to have friends who want to sever the heads of those who do us wrong, but c'mon -- did Kochalka really need to post that publicly?
I don't know the first thing about these people or their breakup, but I'm willing to bet some of Ashley's friends would like a public forum in which to post drawings of what they'd like to do to Cooley. It takes two to tango -- and two to breakup.