In addition to being a bored temp turned unlikely political pundit, David Rees is also kind enough to buy lunch for freelance writers who suddenly find themselves without a day job.
“I’m a bleeding heart liberal cartoonist, so I can buy you a sandwich. If I drew Mallard Fillmore, I’d tell you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and buy your own sandwich,” Rees muses as he opens his wallet and pays for two falafel sandwiches from a lunch truck in Murray Hill. It is an overcast October afternoon and Rees has just gotten out of a recording session for the animated series of his wildly popular Get Your War On clip-art comic series; however, the only thing currently on his mind is finding a quiet place to do an interview. These days, mouthing off in crowded coffeehouses, especially when shouting swear words in conjunction with the Bush administration, makes him a little uneasy.
“Hell yeah, let’s do the interview right by this jackhammer!” Rees yells as he runs up to a construction site. “All of this noise is why my wife and I moved out of the city.”
After wandering down to Union Square, Rees finally settles on a park bench, unwraps his sandwich and begins pontificating on his comic series’ evolution and his hopes and fears tied to the then-undetermined outcome of Nov. 4.
“Obama is so manifestly comfortable with who he is,” Rees explains between bites. “He doesn’t get rattled and he doesn’t get angry, although I wish his health care plan was a little more communist. However, to Obama’s credit, he does actually acknowledge the existence of ‘poor people,’ since it’s usually left up to the middle class to decide the outcome.”
Rees also has some thoughts on where he believes McCain’s campaign went dead in the water.
“He definitely lost the election when Palin came aboard, but that’s not an original argument.
This election comes down to how can the old man beat the young man, especially since the young man is at the head of the most sophisticated political campaign the Democrats have ever devised. It’s nothing but tactics and nothing but strategy.”
For the previous editions of Get Your War On, Rees donated royalties to a nonprofit dedicated to clearing landmines out of Afghanistan under the guise that he didn’t want to be a war profiteer. That isn’t the case for the final edition.
“I sent those kids $100,000 and they didn’t even send me a card. No, actually I wanted to have the readers be connected to the cause. But for this book, I was just like, fuck, everyone got rich off of the Iraq War but me. I’m keeping all the royalties.”
In the midst of his sundry book tours and creating new strips, Rees was eventually approached to animate the series.
“I was never interested in animating because I like the boring cartoon format,” he explains. Eventually, he was convinced to change his mind and consented to “animate the shit out of it” with the aid of the tech wizards at Fat Black Studios in Austin, Texas.
When it came down casting the actual voices, Rees had a pretty specific set of parameters.
“I wanted two actors that actually look like the two office workers. We got comedian Jon Glaser to do the white office worker, and during the casting call for the African-American office worker we found Anthony Laurent.”
However, the cartoon voices lack that incredulous teenage-boy persona Rees channels when he reads the strips in public, especially when he over-annunciates all the curse words.
“I was probably regressing back to what I was feeling when I first worked on the strip.”
While Rees has a considerable amount of sympathy for Obama—as he feels the next eight years will be little more than economic damage control—he’s also has some choice words for the pockets of the country that aren’t quite ready to accept Obama as president.
“You mean having a black Muslim terrorist as president? They better get fucking used to it.”