A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a delightfully
dark anime I'd recently discovered entitled "Death
basic premise was thus:
The death gods write the names of people marked
for death in little notebooks, the titular "Death
the people soon die.
(Yes, that's how it works.) But what happens if
a hyper-intelligent Japanese school-boy with an
righteousness gland just happens to find one of
As you might guess, hilarity ensues, mixed with
the thorny question of "Is it okay to kill
just because they're evil?" not to mention "Is
it okay to kill less-than-evil people just to raise
civility in our
society?" or the even thornier question "Can
we also kill the innocent just to save our ass?".
The answer to all three questions in the production,
in case you haven't guessed, is yes.
But what difference does it make? After all, it's
just a silly fantasy?
Unfortunately, it isn't. The American military-industrial-complex
have created their own little Death Note. They
call it the Predator.
At first it was a pretty good idea... send pilotless
robot planes equipped with Hellfire missiles and
optics into enemy territory and use them to destroy
delegated as terrorists. You know, those guys who
the American people have been repeatedly been told
destroyed the World Trade Center.
All well and good, if you're that gullible, but
it seems that we're now using them to
target drug lords in Afghanistan, people who have broken no
laws other than having the wrong skin color. We're
also attacking and killing those unfriendly to
the Pakistani government in an effort to, I dunno,
get better deals on rattan day-beds or something.
Still think it's okay to do this? Okay, what if
the Russkies suddenly get all high-minded about
this technique while realizing they could
be next on the list and build their own Predators
to seek out and kill the people
pilot our Predators?
Open can, insert worms.
To make matters worse, some of these Predator programs
are run by the CIA, and we have no idea who they're
killing as their actions are unscripted and off
the books. They could literally be targeting anybody,
and only the privileged few would ever know.
This isn't like nuclear weaponry, which is fiendishly
difficult to manufacture and pretty easy to sniff
out by orbiting satellites. Any government can
make a Predator on the cheap and use the American
argument of "Well, they started it" to pick and
choose their targets. It's time to back away from
this abyss while there's still time.
Don Ivan Punchatz, King of Illustration
man almost single-handedly responsible for my career
as a starving artist died yesterday.
Since 1970 Don
Punchatz has run a modest enterprise called The SketchPad Studio.
From this cluttered space deep in the southern end of Arlington, Texas, he grew
recognized as one of the best in the commercial illustration business and his
artwork has graced the covers of almost any magazine you name to choose. One
of his paintings even hangs in the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery. He was also
the go-to guy for sci-fi illustration and was, in fact, the man responsible for
the artwork on the box of Id software's "Doom". Yes, that Doom.
He was in such demand that he started hiring art graduates eager to apply their
skills to the Punchatz method. Don was a great teacher and an even better inspiration
as almost everyone who spent any time at the Pad left to begin successful careers
of their own.
I first heard of Don Punchatz in the summer of 1977 when I returned home late
one night after my shift on the turret lathe at the machine shop. The radio was
on as I entered the apartment and the midnight DJ on my local left-wing public
radio station was interviewing some weirdo, who turned out to be Mr. Punchatz.
Don was there putting out a call for new art for a Heavy Metal-ish magazine he
intended to publish. By some quirk of fate I was working on just that very thing
and hustled down to his studio the next day with my modest portfolio in tow.
(The magazine was never published.)
He liked my artwork well enough to hire me basically as a gopher and doer of
menial art tasks, though he tossed some lesser assignments my way, too. Most
importantly, even though I wasn't contributing creatively I was able to see how
the commercial art process worked from close up. To put it simply, it wasn't
what I thought. It was better. A lifetime of personal exploration in the craft
couldn't have taught me any better than the five months I was in Don's employ.
After a few months Don encouraged me explore formal art training at East Texas
State University, the place to be in North Texas for commercial illustration
study. And so I did. Who was I to argue?
I didn't see him again until about three years ago at a friend's art exhibit.
I was stunned that he remembered me and even more astonished when he exhibited
a bit of pride in my career. I misted up as we briefly hugged and clapped each
other on the back. I never saw him again.
Don was an amazing human and there is much sorrow in the arts community with
the passing of this fine man. But in his wake he left an amazing artistic legacy,
two wonderful children and a legion of talented people touched by his creativity
who will continue to carry on his mission not only in their art but in their
Thank you, Don.
One last thing: As he was a self-employed artist with a long history ailments,
being one of them,
help his widow pay his medical bills, donations can be made to Sandra Punchatz,
c/o Lewis Glaser, TCU School of Art, TCU, Box 298000, Fort Worth TX 76129
Know Your Scumbags will return on Monday.