Back in 2015, cartoonist Simon Hanselmann told me, “Everything is utterly pointless and futile. We should probably all just kill ourselves now and do the planet a favor. Unfortunately though, we're cursed with sentient sentimentality and rampant arrogance. Painful emotions, stupid love.” That’s pretty much the gist of Hanselmann’s often gruseomely cynical, yet surprisingly empathetic, Megg and Mogg series. If you’re not familiar (you should be), it’s a comic about a stoner witch named Megg, her smelly slacker feline partner Mogg, and the trouble they often get into with their various lowlife friends. There’s a lot of tripping going on, but it’s not even close to mere 420 humor; Hanselmann’s razor-sharp wit drives home his insight about depression, gender identity, and addiction.
Since our last interview, Hanselmann’s won a couple Eisner Awards, been translated into 13 languages, and published two collections, as well as a heaping handful of mini comics. And now he’s working on a whole new book, which will be full of stories that have never been online before. He’s always traveling, too, so it was very cool that he took time to draw something for The FADER’s Earth Issue.
Hanselmann is among six cartoonists I asked to imagine a “future earth” — it was up to them to decide what that meant. Each Friday, for the next six weeks, their work will be published alongside an interview. Who better than Hanselmann to dream up a potential tomorrow that’ll make you laugh and have an anxiety attack at the same time? The result is a hilarious, brutal zinger about protest and complacency in which Hanselmann is at his wryest. When I asked him about it over email he wrote that “something is missing” and that his wife finds it “unfunny.” Beg to differ! I don’t want to ruin the joke but it has to do with the TV show Young Sheldon and toxic waste. Don’t forget to read Owl’s signs, either.
Have you ever seen Young Sheldon? LOL at the concept of a TV show aging.
No, I haven't debased myself by watching Young Sheldon, I'm just aware that it exists. If the producers of it are smart they'll totally parlay this thing into Old Sheldon. The Big Bang Theory will depressingly outlive us all.
This comic is very cynical about the “future earth.” Do you really feel all that cynical about the future? Do you think our universe is that lazy or is it just Megg and Mogg?
I'd just watched The Handmaid's Tale and I think that bled into this comic. I am very concerned and frightened for the future and I currently don't have high hopes. I think a lot of people are just lazy, yeah. Or not lazy — just depressed. Or stupid and happy. We're all trapped in our awkward flesh prisons, trying to survive a nightmare techno flood, praying things will be okay.
Being alive is challenging and everything will probably just get weirder and more horrible. I feel guilty about not being out in the streets shouting for all these causes and actively trying to change shit. I chose my stuff though, I draw dumb entertainment comics as an escape from my anxiety and I take care of my special-needs rabbits.
What is your greatest fear about the future? What are you most hopeful for?
My greatest fear is just that everything will majorly fall apart. Full scale caps-lock WAR. Or some kind of rabbit massacre. We all just want to have a fucking nice time don't we?
I'm hopeful for smart kids that are sick of the bullshit and might actually get some sensible policy going. I hope we can all live to see the end of Game Of Thrones together.
Did you come up with any other good potential narratives for the prompt?
I can't even remember, I've been writing a lot of different shit over the cold, hard winter. I think I might have attempted something more nuanced politically but gave up because it probably would have just pissed off a ton of people. I had quite a bit of trouble with this brief, I struggle with themed stuff. This is one of those comics I draw that I feel "works" but also "doesn't work."
There's something missing. My wife thought it was unfunny. I was walking around the house all day laughing about Old Sheldon though. Oh, and the fact that in the dystopian future Owl is picketing for "legal anal." I think that's a solid joke.
What’s this about a new Megg and Mogg but without Owl? Who will be their downer square foil now?
Yeah, working on my next book. It picks up after Megahex when Owl moves out (fiiiiiinally). Werewolf Jones has fully moved in. I was worried about removing Owl from the dynamic but it works just fine without him. Wherever he is, hopefully he's happy.
Can you tell me any other fun secrets about the new book?
I'm trying to avoid spoilers. I want this book to be a surprise for people.
Usually all my books are collections of stuff that's been online but this new one will be all new stuff — none of it will have been on the internet and it pushes the narrative forward. I'm super excited about that. I'm lost in my little selfish fantasy world and I love it. (Sound of bomb sirens in background.)