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THIS IS THE VOICE OF DOG
February 25, 2005
 

 
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David and Dale were at the 2005 Mocca Art Festival in NYC June 10 and 11th.


A Lesson Is Learned has been nominated in a bunch of categories in 2005 Cartoonists Choice Awards.


Dale has written a review for Mcsweeney’s in their Reviews of New Food section.

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Interviewed by Xenex.org, David and Dale reveal their true ugly natures.


Dale has contributed to Ryan North's collaborative web comic project, Whispered Apologies.

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Christopher B. Dino has kindly reviewed our comic in his blog, Totally Jawesome.


Here A Lesson Is Learned is discussed in a lively debate over conceptual webcomics.


There is a review of A Lesson Is Learned in The Webcomics Examiner.

 

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Archaic creature climbs out of primordial ooze. Dreams of new life for disgusting ooze covered family.


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Dale, who writes the comics.

Flames and sandpaper tongues lick you in cat hell/
At this point I'd like to admit

At one point or another I'd like to think we've all heard the voice of dog. He appears at times like this in the late winter when the weather is uncertain. His breath is disgusting. Think back to all the places where you've found his portraits. For me, his big murky oil paintings of waterfalls and pine forests hang in the lobby of an old apartment building beside the empty basement cafe where a series of European emigrants could not make ends meet, selling their exhausted fortunes to the next lot. The bread on their sandwiches tasted stale and the sun was blotted out by heavy red tapestries in windows too high to reach. I could not finish the crusts. He would sit in there for breakfast though really it was late noon and would always order the same vegetable soup. He fingered the crackers wrapped in plastic as if he could not get them out of there. He would slip them in his pocket like he was going to work it out at home.

When the time came to pay the bill he was not graceful, but would argue with the management in hushed tones so low I could never hear their conversation. The poor owners head, completely bald, would shine with sweat, as he stooped over that awkward shape. The owner had brought his family so far. He worked all day in stained t-shirts, and poured over books of accounting, softening his senses with arithmetic. His English was smooth and unbroken but still somehow labored. And for this?

I was not happy at the time and took an interest in them both. I slept less to come in early to wait, choked down perfumed teas and sticky candies from the complementary bowl while I waited. The management was almost too comfortable with me being in there, like I represented a stream of new customers, or better yet, a set of regulars. Though in reality, I could not wait to leave. His wife’s skin was etched with glacial lines of age. I saw her only in the doorway to the kitchen, rushing to plunge her arms in to large silver basins and pots to wash them. Though the water in my apartment upstairs was delicious, the smell of their water was somehow repugnant. A glass of it came surrounded by fine crystal while ice melted inside, but I could not touch it. I found a few items on the menu that interested me, french fries, and grilled cheeses with tomato inside which I would dissect for hours in my deliberations, drawing on my resolution to know everything I could, taking notes on my experience with a ball point pen. The old man would cook loudly and with vigor, clashing pots, and yelling sometimes at the flames like they had leapt up to bite him. I can only guess he was preparing meals for the elderly people in the building, who sometimes ordered from him when they were too feeble to leave. He would run their dishes up the elevator himself, leaving only me, apparently, to watch the restaurant if I couldn't hear his wife laboring in the back with the usual rush of water and I saw that her fluorescent light, that gave her shape a funny set of shadows, was out.

Dog would float in, as I said, about noon, hesitantly clicking open the screen door which was the restaurant’s main entrance. It resembled more the equipment that would be on the front of a house than the entrance to a restaurant. I think dog was bothered by me but he wouldn't dare say.

It wasn't all bad. Once I stayed late, and the stale grey that had muted the sunshine cast in to the room disappeared. The great piles of dust were no longer illuminated. The restaurant was baked in the complementary glow of tungsten lamps covered in stained glass. It was somebody's birthday though I could not tell whose. The old man offered me clear liquid that I thought was vodka but tasted like apples, and some flaky cake that was soft and unsweetened so they covered it in a lump of honey, shaking it from the spoon with a tap tap tap. After it arrived on my dessert he smiled and clapped the table once as if that was that. When I tried to thank him he just clasped my shoulder tight like my grandfather did, digging a few talons in to the cloth of my blazer, and shook me hard to say, "You’re ok". He was inevitably likeable then. Classical music piped over a little stereo I didn't know they had, something by Mahler I think, and then a piece I didn't recognize which had a lot of strings driving forward in happy crescendos. The later it became the more the little restaurant crowded with their relatives and friends. Stout ladies wearing weary faces were bound in elaborate dresses culminating in explosions of translucent frills. Rich blooming flowers and other bright designs spilled down their sides. Many of the men wore suit jackets and ties shaded in light pastels. The room buzzed with the crushed syllables of their language, softened underfoot by what must have been an unending series of hardships. It grew very hot, and not knowing whom I could possibly talk to or what I would talk about, and feeling slightly unwelcome, like I always did when I was that age no matter what, I slipped out the shuddering screen door, and then the door to the outside. It was surprisingly warm that late at night, and I knew spring had arrived, clutching for me new thoughts, spilling the contents of her pockets in to my lap.

Dale

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David, who draws the comics.

Gratings, humans.

We were interviewed by xenex.org. If you don't see it right away, check the archives. We enjoy the flattery of interviews, so our readers who report for The New York Times should get over their shyness and ask us out.

More later, maybe.

David

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(c) David Hellman and Dale Beran 2005