Welcome to the Washington Post Style section comics discussion, hosted by Comics page editor Suzanne Tobin. This week, Tobin welcomes cartoonist Nick Galifianakis, who draws the illustrations accompanying Carolyn Hax's "Tell Me About It" column.
Galifianakis joined Tobin online Friday, Jan. 2 at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the art of cartooning and how he comes up with the visual manifestations of Carolyn's advice column.
(Nick Galifianakis - washingtonpost.com)
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
Welcome, comics fans, (as well as Tell Me About It fans who are joining us from Carolyn's chat), to our Happy New Year 2004 edition of "Comics: Meet the Artist." Today our guest is Nick Galifianakis, the cartoonist for Tell Me About It, who is joining us from Brooklyn, where he is spending a few months working on a project. Welcome, Nick, and thanks for joining us Live Online.
Nick Galifianakis: Howdy folks and welcome. I'm thrilled to bring in the New Year with my peeps. This is Live Chat is sponsored by three and half hours of sleep and one big honkin' cup of coffee.
University Park, Md.:
Love your cartoons for Hax's column. My wife Diane has been wondering something ever since we first noticed your name on those cartoons. Are you by any chance a scion of the Raleigh, N.C., Galifiniakises who were friendly with her old neighbors the Pediaditakises?
Nick Galifianakis: 1. Yes, I am of the North Carolina Galifianakis family. Also the Atlanta, New York and Crete Galifianakis family. If your name starts with "Galifia" and ends in "akis", we're related. And I probably owe you money.
Your work is comic, edgy and often
satiric. Carolyn often deals with some
fairly heavy issues in her column. How do
you illustrate her answers on those
Nick Galifianakis: 2. Carefully. And hopefully hilariously.
Ever think about doing a daily comic
strip? Thanks, we love your work!
Nick Galifianakis: Thank you, I'm flattered. A daily strip is in my future, for sure. I plan on reading one or two every day.
Actually I do have some ideas and when they perfect cloning, I may be able to find time to pull it off.
I notice you draw yourself in your cartoons
every once in a while. Do you have any
plans to draw yourself with tissue stuck
up your nose, and if so, when? Thanks,
we love your work!
Nick Galifianakis: Hi, Boo. Or Richard. Or Alex. Or Mom.
Are you related to the comedian Zack Galifianakis? If so, do you think humor is inherited?
Nick Galifianakis: Zacky is my first cousin. Yes, he inherited much from me. Except for his height. And his round head?double chin?small shoulders?his bank roll?
Metro Center, Washington, D.C.:
Love your stuff! My only nitpick is that all your people, especially the women, are either skinny like models, or terribly obese (when there's a weight issue involved). Can we get some nice size 12s in there sometimes? God knows we don't need more anorexia and bulimia in the world!
Nick Galifianakis: Most of the men I draw are size 12. It just broke that way.
Nick, my man! I just LOVED the cartoon from Dec. 12, where the baby is sitting with the dog on a blanket and he says "I keep screaming at them to take some time for themselves -- but then they just pick me up again, which totally defeats the purpose."
I feel like that should be plastered on the cover of every "how to deal with your new baby" book. Parents these days seem so intent on never leaving the little darlings that they end up leaving each other. Thanks for the laughs, and keep up the good work.
Nick Galifianakis: Do you need a job as a publicist?
I was impressed with your rendering of the herpes sufferer in today's Post. What kind of research did you do before starting such a medically ambitious project?
Nick Galifianakis: I wake up and look in the mirror.
Hi Nick, is it possible to get prints of some of your cartoons that accompany Carolyn's column?
Nick Galifianakis: Sure. Write the column and it will get to me.
What happens after that is anyone's guess.
Silver Spring, Md.:
I'm a big fan of your characters and drawing style. What type of pen do you use to achieve such fine cross-hatching?
Nick Galifianakis: Thank you very much. Actually, I don't use a pen - I use a house paint brush. Most of the drawings are 37 feet by 24 feet, so by the time they're reduced for reproduction it looks sharp and fine...you should see my scanner - a real chick-magnet.
Okay. I use a dip pen with India Ink. Crow Quill 108, on smooth Bristol.
Hopefully this doesn't come across as massive sucking up... (grin)
I asked this in Carolyn's column -- how do we go about ordering pieces of your work? There are a few comics that we would love to have in our collection. Also, is your "project" in Brooklyn more art? My husband and I really like your style and would be interested in any other work you are doing outside the strip for Carolyn (which is hilarious).
Nick Galifianakis: Aren't ya'll sweet?
Chime in with an e-mail to the column and we'll chat.
Poster's to Carolyn's chats have occasionally mentioned that your cartoons often stereotype people by appearance. Almost all the women are perfectly proportioned (except when the referenced question demands otherwise) while big guys are always jerks (with the same exception).
In this era of sensitivity about appearances, why do you engage in the fairy-tale practice of equating beauty and goodness?
Nick Galifianakis: Hmm.
I will answer this, I promise. Let me dance through some of the others first - you cut in line. But I promise I will address your neurosi...oh.
Does Ms. Hax have any editorial approval on what you draw, or does she have no idea what you will draw?
Nick Galifianakis: I don't dress myself without running it by my adorable genius ex-wife.
San Francisco, Calif.:
My all-time favorite was the Mr. Potatohead cartoon ("she really messed with your head") but I can't find it online anywhere. Why aren't your cartoons archived on the WP? How can I find it again?
Nick Galifianakis: Donald Graham
A personal question, if I may. My wife (and a close friend of hers) are both graduates of Jeb Stuart High School from the 1980's, and want to know if you are the same Nick they went to school with, and whose parents owned the restaurant at Seven Corners Mall. Their names were Maura Valis and Paula Nugent. This would put their curiosity to rest. Thanks much.
Nick Galifianakis: I did in fact...
I asked my husband to pass on a less-generally-relevant question, and he got it wrong! The Galifianakis family that I knew never had a restaurant; that was the Vroustrouris family!
Sofia G. was my year.
Regardless of whether you are a fellow Stuart alum or not, we love your art! Where else does it appear?
-Maura Valis (Stuart '84)
Nick Galifianakis: ...attend Jeb Stuart High School.
So what do you think of Opus coming back? And do you think comics should stay when their original authors have been long gone?
Nick Galifianakis: I LOVE OPus and Breathed.
Strips should absolutely die with their creators.
Now, I do enjoy reading "Peanuts" even though though the great man has passed - but they're just re-running classics. No one's doing an impersonation of Charles Schulz.
People have commented on the way you draw people, but I have to ask... Is the dog you generally draw an American Stratfordshire bull terrier? I'd bet money on it.
Nick Galifianakis: I hope you bet a lot because you win.
Her name is Zuzu and I love her completely.
Close By, Va.:
You must be privy to Carolyn's questions and
answers in order to create the concept for your
artwork. How closely do you collaborate and how
does her new marriage and the babies affect
your working relationship?
Nick Galifianakis: Carolyn selects the questions - which we both field and categorize - and then she writes the column and sends it to me. Then I make it brilliant.
Okay. I edit the column, but not for gramer or spelink. I edit for soundness of advice, male point of view, freshness of her voice, dramatic arc, humor, etc.
I'm the only ex-husband in the world that gets paid to tell his ex-wife, "No, you're wrong. My way's better."
Then we toss cartoon ideas around until one of her babies starts crying.
Is it weird:
to be working with your ex-wife? Do you two get along?
Nick Galifianakis: I spent a year in Santa Monica where people are giving each other coffee enemas. So, define weird.
We get along great and we're an awesome team. We're a part of each other's lives. I get along with Kenny, her husband, as well. He's great...for a guy that has my wife. And dog.
Also one of the identical twins looks suspiciously like me...I'm not ruling anything out.
Hi, Nick, so nice to meet you. I get such a kick out of your cartoons. You seem to get away with things that I don't think would normally appear in a "family newspaper." Like the one in the fall where the guy is sitting at dinner with the girl and he says, "Okay, I admitted I was wrong. Now it's your turn to admit that you're a lying, cheating, sleazoid ho." Somehow I have trouble recalling seeing the word "ho" anyplace else in The Post, even in reviews of rap music! Do you ever get told you CAN'T say or draw certain things?
Nick Galifianakis: Alan Shearer
Washington Post Writers Group
And thank you.
"Her name is Zuzu and I love her completely." You just made me cry!; Dogs should only be with people who love them completely. And who can draw breeds with unfortunate and wrong PR as the loving dogs they are. Thanks!;
Nick Galifianakis: Are you married?
While we are at it, please draw a proportional number of white, black, Asian people. Be sure you have the appropriately equal number of men and women. Please also be sure that each are of a variety of sizes, height etc.
Seriously, people need to STFU. Continue drawing the great cartoons!
Nick Galifianakis: Again, because I'm the world's slowest typist and a moron. I will get to this. Increasingly, it's looking like I will answer it after the chat and beg Carolyn (see: offer to baby sit) to post it in her next chat. Though I will try today.
I have MUCH to say about this. Thank you for your patience.
Carolyn got Zuzu? Now I'm going to cry. Do you get visitation?
Nick Galifianakis: Carolyn has my Budgy Boo because she went up to New England and bought a house with a white picket fence and then turned into a Pez dispenser - pull a baby out and another pops up in it's place - and I've spent the last couple of years wandering the earth like Kwai Chan Kane.
I will be with Boo soon.
C'mon, just between you and us... how really weird/sad/upsetting has it been for you to watch your ex-wife meet someone, get pregs, get married, have two kids while also having to work with her on a weekly (or so) basis. All the while you're living with a dog and scratching yourself while alone.
Nick Galifianakis: You will never be happy.
Long time fan of the illustrations and the column that goes with them. Just wanted to send congrats to you for being nationally syndicated in the column and to your cousin for getting the gig on Tru Calling.
Nick Galifianakis: Thanky.
Married in Charlotte:
Yes, married, but to one of the all-time good guys who didn't object when I decided to foster a rottweiler along with our own malamutes!; Message to all women--the acid test for great guys is how they treat dogs. If they have a great sense of humor and can draw, pinch yourself!;
Nick Galifianakis: (Smile)
Okay, Nick, can you tell us what the poster meant by STFU? Not all of us are up to date on the latest acronyms in cyberspace...
Nick Galifianakis: Answer this somebody.
I draw pikshures.
I don't have a question, but want to say I love your cartoons. I have them on my fridge, in my office... If you ever need more fan mail, let me know.
Nick Galifianakis: Well, I do need a fridge.
If you are single and in the D.C. area I would love to ask you out on a date.
Nick Galifianakis: Aha!
Carolyn, can I use the column as a dating service?
Is it just me or is this a new low for a comics chat? You draw for a column. Oooh! Ms. Tobin, can we please get CARTOONISTS in the comics chat? You know, the people who draw the comics? You give us few of them as it is to waste on a guy whose main qualification for the job is he was married to the writer. Thanks.
Nick Galifianakis: No, no, this IS a new low.
Remeber, you were supposed to stop drinking at midnight, 2003.
Nick, Love the drawings. Personal question: Are you dating anyone and would you consider getting married again?
Nick Galifianakis: Marriage.
If I do, it won't be for the institution. It won't be for the vows or security or to have someone in my old age.
It'll be for the girl.
What ever happened to your wonderful dog Blitz? I used to know you a lifetime ago.
Nick Galifianakis: Blitz!
Oh, you just broke my heart.
Smell The Flowers Unreservedly.
What else could it possibly be?
Nick Galifianakis: I like that. even if you're wrong.
STFU - shut the f--- up!;
Love your stuff Nick!;!;!;
Nick Galifianakis: I like that. Even if you're right.
I'm assuming (by the eyebrows, hairiness comes with being Greek) that you are the one playing cards with Zuzu in today's cartoon. Are those bulging biceps true to form or are you just putting us on?
Nick Galifianakis: I'm built like a professional athlete - a bowler.
I work hard to look like my dog.
Since you're going to address this after the chat, there may be no need to post this, but--I never had a problem with the way you render your characters. The bodies (of both men and women) often seem a little small, but I figured that might have something to do with the GINORMOUS CRANIUMS most of them sport.
As for the racial/ethnic diversity--I was under the impression you often do caricatures of people you know. So I guess the people who want more diversity would like you to have a more diverse group of friends. I suggest you approach members of a racial minority group and tell them that you want to become friends so you can put distorted cartoon versions of them in widely syndicated publications. That should work.
As for your cartoons causing bulimia, that poster may have a point--the depiction of face herpes made me throw up a little in my mouth.
Nick Galifianakis: I drew a cartoon once while working at USA Today. It was about Social Security. I decided to have two African American men standing outside of the Capitol discussing the issue, just as a diverse change-up. When it ran, everyone thought the cartoon was about how SS affect black people.
If I make anyone of the number of men in my cartoons, acting like dirtbags, a minority, folks think I'm saying ugly things about minority relationships and playing to stereotypes. It's touchy. Tragically, white people have become the default people for cartoons.
And for the record, I believe I'm better than most at reflect America.
Again. I will go into tremendous detail later
"Throw up a little in your mouth?" where else would you throw up?
So, what is Ms. Hax like in real life? Does she clip her toe nails in the bed? Does she keep a whip in her closet?
Nick Galifianakis: You guys have me for an afternoon and THIS is what you want to know about Carolyn?
Fort Lauderdale, FL:
I always read your comic before I read Carolyn's column. I like to compare my immediate reaction to it to the reaction I have after reading the column. It always amazes me how directly on point you are, with humor injected as well.
My question is: What is your favorite comic strip?
Nick Galifianakis: Calvin and Hobbes
So, what do you think of all the women unashamedly throwing themselves at you in an anonymous chat?
BTW...I'm a single gal who would do the same, but somehow I doubt you're planning on being in Nebraska any time soon....
Nick Galifianakis: I drove through Nebraska for the first time in my life this past summer. Stopped at all of the Dairy Queens. Lovely state. Swell people.
Wait...that wa Iowa.
Try acronymfinder.com. Happy New Year's, Nick!;
Nick Galifianakis: Back at ya.
Wow, It would be for the girl. How dreamy. I really do want that date -- if not, would you consider workshops at the Double Tree for men on how to be dreamy and wonderful? You can do it on the days they have close out art.
Nick Galifianakis: Double Tree?
You're inviting me to a hotel?
Thanks for responding to the Fairfax chatter as you did - the biggest problem with anonymous fori are the clods who feel free to be incredibly rude. And who have no taste, to boot, else they'd appreciate your cartoons. As Carolyn might say, why is he here?
Nick Galifianakis: Hey, everyone has a voice.
Not everyone SHOULD have a voice, but...
It's the New Year.
Love, love, love...
Hey, I'm the girl!; I have a dog too!;
Nick Galifianakis: Golly. I don't know what to do with this.
Do you ever find that Carolyn's advice really sucks?
Nick Galifianakis: Carolyn's advice isn't only better than everyone else's, it's delivered better than everyone else's. Best advice column in the world!
Somebody call Guinness...and get me a beer.
This is true. You are a much better person than I am. You should give seminars at the Doubletree.
Nick Galifianakis: What is this Doubletree thing everyone on the planet seems to know about, but as usual, I don't?
And thaanks for the smiles you're giving me. Ya'll are swell.
To echo the rest of the crowd, I love your comics and your sense of humor. Carolyn has said that some of the people you draw are people you know. Are they all? And which one is you?
Nick Galifianakis: Yes, my cartoons are populated with people I know. Sometimes it helps me lock into a feling or attitude.
It's also fun to humilite your friends. I NEVER tell them I've done it. The cartoon comes out, they see it, the phone starts ringing, the lawyers start calling...
how about for one week, you give advice and carolyn draws the cartoon. would be interesting, I think.
Nick Galifianakis: I'd love it.
Carolyn draws the most hilarious cartoons. She used to leave me notes all over the place with a little self-portraits instead of a signature. Just wonderful and hysterically drawn. I saved all of them...and used them for kindling WHEN THE HO....
Any truth to the rumor that you got into
cartooning to meet chicks? Or has this
just been an unexpected benefit?
Nick Galifianakis: Hello Richard.
I got turned on to Carolyn's column in the Philadelphia Inquirer but it wasn't until I looked her column up online that I realized it was accompanied by your great cartoons!; Why doesn't my paper print them and how can I change that?
Nick Galifianakis: Marches, sit-ins, vigils, hunger strikes, you know, the regular stuff.
Write to them, my friend, write!
I am getting jealous of all these women flirting with you Nicholas!;
Nick Galifianakis: Don't be jealous. You know you're the only girl for me.
Who are you?
Intelligent guy with a sense of humor, who loves his dog, who gets along with ex & hubby... Man you're a catch!; Bad hair, razor stubble and all!;
Nick Galifianakis: Mmm...I will sleep well tonight.
Of course, I would sleep well any night that followed an all-nighter.
I enjoy your take on Haxs response, my favorite character that pops up from time to time is the frog.
Nick Galifianakis: The Frog Prince is near and dear to my heart. Thanks for that.
I think we're all a little amphibian at heart...or at least a little wet and clammy.
Did you draw this picture??
Nick Galifianakis: I can't see the pic you sent, but if it's a drawing and it's really, really good, then yes.
Ocean City, MD:
Have you ever done caricatures at the mall or beach? There is great money in that. Could we send you photos to sketch of family members?
Nick Galifianakis: Hello Richard.
silver spring, md:
Has cartooning always been your passion? Did people try to dissuade you, saying it would be too difficult to support yourself? Did you every try any other type of more mundane job, or have you always sort of followed your talent? I love your cartoons by the way!; I want to see this herpes one, unless that was a joke...
Nick Galifianakis: I have always drawn. One day I woke up and felt I had something to say and married the two.
Once you find what it is you love to do, you'll never have to work another day in your life.
This is why yesterday I applied for "Taster" at the Lyndt Chocolate Factory.
Herpes cartoon ran a couple of days ago, I believe.
First I LOVE the column and cartoons. Question: Is it true that you and Carolyn sometimes make up questions? Have you guys ever used any issues from your own relationship?
Nick Galifianakis: No.
And only as experience to address an existing letter.
SE DC (again):
Sorry that comment didn't come from
Richard, but from one of your many
female fans. I was goofing around, but it
does raise a good point -- men should
never underestimate the appeal of a
great sense of humor to women.
Seriously, despite the complaints about
sexism, racism, and lots of other isms,
don't you think that part of the appeal of
your cartoons is the ability to keep our
differences in perspective? By laughing
we find the common ground, even if it
does annoy and frustrate us.
Nick Galifianakis: Absolutely, my friend.
No wonder you're such a talented cartoonist...:
You are HILARIOUS!; Thanks for doing this chat and keep up the wonderful work.
Nick Galifianakis: Shucks...
Who is Richard. My name is Heather. Not Richard.
Nick Galifianakis: Hi Heather. My name is Richard.
Really, "Richard" is the fabulously talented Richard Thompson of "Richard's Poor Almanac" fame, Sunday's Style section. Genius. I've been stealing from him for years.
Iowa City, IA:
I just got married and I want to have more sex. I've always been the randier one, but he said my seduction is a little ham fisted (what, grab and twist is bad?). Any advice so I can seduce him without looking like I'm seducing him? BTW, when we do have it, sex is awesome.
Nick Galifianakis: Seducing with out looking like you're seducing skirts a bit close to contrived.
So talk. Lose the fear.
Fear of facing others, fear of facing ourselves. One's really scary, the other's really difficult. Once you guys figure that out, Carolyn and I will be out of a job.
What am I saying? Who is this guy? Lose him. My number is 703 8...
Have you published a book of your work? Any plans to do so?
Nick Galifianakis: There will be a book within a year.
Checked out Zach's website. When he has a full beard, he looks like Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies and also looks like Survivor Rupert Boneham.
Nick Galifianakis: And he smells like both of them combined.
Forget Iowa. When I seduce you our sex will be awesome and an all nighter. You'll have to sleep the next day.
Nick Galifianakis: Who are you talking to? Or have I been cut out again?
Random question for Nick- are you related to Alex? How common is the Galifianakis name
Nick Galifianakis: Alex is my cousin. I have many.
We're the only ones.
Double Tree Gal:
Okay, it was an invite. We just want all men to be like you!; Sugar coated and in tune with what makes us happy. Would the hotel make you happy?
Nick Galifianakis: Still waiting on Carolyn for the "using the office to meet girls" front.
Nick Galifianakis: If you've ever walked down a tree-lined street and taken in these wonderful brownstones in the Fall, you wouldn't ask.
My bus fare only made it this far.
um, your cartoons are dreamy, but where do we get a real-life look-see?
Nick Galifianakis: Thanks.
Next time I'll post a photo. But the caricatures of me are pretty darn close - especially the ripling abs.
Are you surprised by the cartoons that
generate criticism? Or do you know
when you are doing it that it's going to tick
some people off, but figure that if they are
humor-challenged the problem is theirs?
Nick Galifianakis: I often, but by no menas always, know that I'm going to crawl under someone's skin. It usually means I've scratched a truth and that's part of the fun.
I'm not so big in my britches that would ever think folks who disagree with me are humor challenged - crack has a variety of effects on people.
This is great!; We should have more opportunites to chat with you, thanks for taking the time. You are really gifted, both with your ability to draw and a twisted sense of humor!; Loving that. Are you "uncle" to Carolyn's boys?
Nick Galifianakis: Both of Carolyn's little cutie pies AND the one on the way all have the middle name "Nick."
but sugar coated men make such a mess once you get them into bed.
Nick Galifianakis: I'm Greek. We're "honey-coated."
So, where do the funny, evolved guys like you hang out in DC? There is an overabundance of morbidly serious men in this town!;
Nick Galifianakis: We hang out in NYC. But we will be visiting our beloved Washington soon.
ahhhhhhhh, you gave us an 8!;!;:
only 999,999 numbers left to go.
and given that it's Virginia, there's really only so many numbers that start with an 8, so it really is more like 10000-11000 numbers to try.
Nick Galifianakis: (double sigh)
Wow, you're either going over your time or you and Carolyn are the only ones willing to do 2-hour chats!; THanks!;
Nick Galifianakis: Has it been two hours?! It felt more like nine.
Two hour chats. Well Carolyn (I call her B.L.) and are just bonkers about our column which means we're just bonkers about our readers which menas we both need new lives.
You guys are fantastic and this has been a tremendous privilege. Let's do it again soon.
Have the Happiest and Healthiest of New years.
Okay, folks, Nick has been more than generous with his time, but we'll be wrapping it up now.
Before we go, I just wanted to respond to Fairfax, if you're still here. So sorry you feel that way...Nick's cartoons often make me laugh out loud more often than many of the daily strips I read, and I thought our readers would enjoy getting to know him better. If you would prefer reading chats with our daily cartoonists, feel free to go to our comics discussion archive at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/liveonline/style/comics.htm. Hopefully, our next guest will be more to your taste.
Personally, I've had a blast with Nick, and look forward to having him back on again when that book comes out! Join us again in two weeks for another edition of "Comics: Meet the Artist."