I normally try to be attentive to the actual creative forces behind the meme'd cartoons that dominate our social media lives. But I'll be honest: I hadn't thought much about the "This is fine" meme. It became so ubiquitous during the Trump era that it just sort of felt as natural as air, a perfect encapsulation of an era that spawned itself fully mature from the head of Zeus.
But it turns out it was made by an actual person. 10 whole years ago! An Easthampton, MA-based artist named KC Green. And Spencer Buell at The Boston Globe talked with Green about the unexpected success of his little coffee-sipping dog sitting calmly in a burning house. It's fascinating interview on a number of levels, but I'll share two of my favorite bits here:
What does [this cartoon] mean to you after all this time?
It originally was a way to express myself getting my medication right for the first time in my life. I had started taking anti-depressants and I was feeling mixed about what it would do to me and my creativity. I used the concept of ignoring a house on fire to express that, but that it can mean so much to so many others is what I was aiming for. It can be interpreted in a lot of ways. Which is what art does. And that is fine.
You've tried to keep people from stealing your work and profiting off of it. Is that still going on?
It's hard to stop people from trying to make a buck off your work when posting online. I can handle it, I can ask them to take it down, use [Digital Millennium Copyright Act]notices, or just make a better product and steal back. But it's a Hydra: You stop one and more pop up. It's one of the other things you have to just accept when it happens. I don't want to be the one to have to be the party pooper about my work, but when you're forced to, it takes the fun out of the image.
I'm happy to report that the "This Is Fine" guy seems all right.
The 'This is Fine' comic turned 10. The Mass. artist behind it says it's changed his life — for better or worse. [Spencer Buell / The Boston Globe]