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Rolling Stoned: It’s Music and Cartoons Time!

By Zack Ruskin
Jul 30, 2020

Ever since this pandemic stuck its dumb, vicious tent poles down into reality, interviewing creative people about their work has taken on a new level of impossible.

Trying to elevate a conversation beyond the press cycle is tough enough in the “best” of times, but what is one to do when it feels akin to journalistic malpractice to not acknowledge protests or daily death tolls or the reality that we have absolutely no fucking idea when a live concert not featuring a DJ set from the CEO of Goldman Sachs will take place?

If you’re really lucky, you talk to someone like musician Madeline Kenney. She lives in Oakland and makes gorgeous songs. I chatted with her once before if you care to read that. More importantly, she has a new album, Sucker’s Lunch, due out on July 31.

Here’s Madeline on the struggle with whether to release the record — which is phenomenal — into this world at this moment:

“I still have a lot of guilt about it because there are way bigger, more important things happening. I’m really trying to hold space for the grief I have for our idiotic country and its growing pains, but I also need to hold space for the grief that I have for this work that I put my life and my being into. Honestly, it’s pretty f**king heartbreaking, to be blunt about it.”

If you want to read more, our Q&A is now live at the Grammys. Also big thanks to Rachel Brodsky for giving my words a home there!

Most importantly, buy Sucker’s Lunch because it’s really really really good.


Before this year, I knew Adrian Tomine primarily from his work as a New Yorker cover artist. However, I now count myself as a massive fan of the cartoonist’s incredibly astute, often excruciatingly awkward “Optic Nerve” comic series as well.

Serialized into bound collections like Summer Blonde and Shortcomings, these illustrated peeks into modern-day city dweller strife and solace has won Tomine an Eisner and garnered raves from some of the medium’s biggest names. However, in recalling his own career, its not the highlights that Tomine tends to draw on. Instead, it’s the humiliations.

Indeed, crazy embarrassing stuff happening is a major theme in Tomine’s new memoir, which I spoke to the cartoonist about for the San Francisco Chronicle. Here’s how that starts:

“Adrian Tomine has endured some truly mortifying moments. Be it comically ill-timed gastrointestinal distress or a persistent stalker with an unusual gift, all the fodder for the acclaimed artist’s new graphic memoir, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist, is pulled directly from his decades-long career… Scenes of empty bookstore signings and people mistaking Tomine for fellow cartoonist Daniel Clowes give root to his chronic impostor syndrome, while other anecdotes from the book border on being too excruciating to believe. Take, for instance, the time the artist and his wife went out to dinner only to find themselves seated next to a couple in the process of loudly eviscerating Summer Blonde, then his newest title.”

Click here to read the full thing, which also includes a quote from the aforementioned Dan Clowes! Again, doing interviews on art is so weird (if not outright surreal) right now, so credit to Adrian for making this work and definitely buy his book from not Amazon.


“Rolling Stoned” will be back next week with another issue fully focused on cannabis. In the interim, here are a few (mostly shitty) things happening in the world of weed.


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