Tony Millionaire is the award-winning sydicated cartoonist
behind the wonderfully original Sock Monkey and its
darker doppleganger Maakies. His classically drawn
illustrations are impressively distinctive and require no
signature to be recognized. The exploits of Drinky Crow
and Uncle Gabby can be found closest to home every week
in New York Press.
Maakies regularly transports its readers into a magically
absurd world of booze, pirates, buccaneers, suicide, venereal
disease, and boobs. Sound crass? Its not. In fact, Maakies
is one of the most heartfelt and lovingly drawn strips one
could hope for. Additionally, his Sock Monkey series was
beautifully animated for Saturday Night Live. It was one
of their more memorable features in recent years.
Tony was born in Boston and grew up "in the woods
and oceans of Massachusetts." A telling story about
Tony's childhood was reported in a recent interview in Flak
magazine. In response to Tony's request for his mother to
buy him a coloring book, Tony's mother retorts: "There
will be no coloring books in this house. If you want to
color something, draw it first."
Turns out our admiration is not at all mutual. In response
to an unfavorable bar review on our website (where some
admittedly cheap shots were taken) and his concern that
many old-time residents of Williamsburg have recently been
pushed out of their homes by rising rents, Tony writes:
WOW!!!! What's with all the hatred? Haven't these people
(our writers) got any sense of history? They have
no fucking idea who they've displaced! I'm seeing more and
more of this bullshit snobby attitude on your website.
Well Tony, we have lots of voices on FREEwilliamsburg and
sometimes even we don't agree with the opinions expressed
in every article we run. Unlike most NY publications, we
try to run a mix of opinions whether we agree or disagree
with what's being said.
We conducted an interview with Tony in late March. He currently
lives in Los Angeles with his wife and baby daughter.
1. Is Millioniare your real name?
Of course Millionaire is my real name. I had a girlfriend
when I lived in New York who was sitting in a bar once,
she was talking about me, saying something about her boyfriend
Tony Millionaire, and the guy talking to her said, "Tony
Millionaire? What kind of a name is that?" She said,
"It's French!" He said, "Oh, I thought it
was some kind of performance art clown name."
2. We hear that you used to live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
When did you live here? Any feelings about how the neighborhood
I lived there during the Great Gentrification of
the eighties. We moved there because you could get a two-bedroom
apartment for $400 a month and the old Polish man living
upstairs was paying $60 a month because he had lived there
since he was a kid. That old man kept on about how the Puerto
Ricans were coming around ruining his neighborhood, he had
no idea that his real enemy was me. I was Daniel Boone pioneering
and making nice with that quaint old bastard, but you can
bet he doesn't live there anymore. His apartment goes for
about 2 thousand now and he lives in Flatbush.
Here's what I hate most about Williamsburg now. That a
bunch of fashionable asses would find this funny: (taken
from our Sex
in the Sub-City article)
Place: Turkey's Nest
Crowd: Old drunks and those who'll grow up to be
Chances of getting laid: Depends. If your standards
are low, you can pretty much have your pick of the place.
Otherwise, you'll do better elsewhere.
Appropriate pick-up line: I still have all my teeth.
This guy has no fucking respect for a classic drinking
establishment. Good, keep out. Thank God I live 3000 miles
away from New Williamsburg.
3. Where did the name MAAKIES
Some of the tugboats in New York harbor have a big M painted
on the side of
them and my friend Spike Vrusho used to say, "MAAKIES!"
in a high pitched
screech everytime he saw one. It was funny.
4. Did you ever feel compelled
to draw a kinder, gentler MAAKIES after 9-11?
Maakies is a very personal strip, I don't let outside events
influence it if I can help it, it's about conversations
late at night drunk in a bar, not the horrors of the outside
world. Besides, Maakies is one of the kindest, gentlest
things you'll ever read, before 9/11 or after. It seems
harsh to the newcomers, but I pour more love into that thing
than anything Ernest Hemingway ever wrote. Read it for awhile
and you'll know what I'm
5. When did you start drawing? Did you go to art school?
I went to the Massachusetts College of Art and was asked
to leave after 3 and 3 quarters years because I wasn't attending
the academic classes. They threw in bullshit psychology
and English lit classes for some kind of funding reasons,
the teachers were terrible High School rejects, so I just
didn't go. I had my hands full with the excellent drawing
and painting courses, not to mention earning a living, so
I just eliminated the time-wasting courses. When they kicked
me out I was relieved. An artist doesn't need a degree,
unless he wants to teach, so I jumped for joy and
left. It was a great school though, I learned a lot.
6. What's the shittiest job you
Well I washed a lot of dishes, but that was OK, I ate a
lot on those jobs, and I had a horrible job making compasses
in a factory assembly line, but the worst job I had was
down on the wharf in Gloucester in a fish processing plant.
The fishermen would come in and unload their holds of fish,
and these women would shove them through these gutting and
scaling machines and they would go out onto conveyor belts.
My job was to crouch down under these machines with the
sweating women working up there, the fish guts and scales
raining down on me. I had a dirt rake and I had to rake
up the guts, but the worst part was the eyes, There would
be thousands of red fish eyes on the floor looking up at
me, whispering, "You helped to kill us!"
7. Booze is an ongoing theme in
MAAKIES, do you have a drink of choice? Are you drunk now?
Yes, as a matter of fact, I just finished my
seventh beer! I love to be drunk, I finally figured out
how to do it in the most pleasant way possible. I don't
drink hard liquor anymore, it drives me insane with rage
and I've ended up in jail too many times. Plus, I'm old
now and it hurts my stomach. I don't drink fancy beer except
at parties, because a fancy beer tastes good if you're only
having one or two, but for an all-night drawing drunk, you
have to drink Budweiser. You can't get TOO drunk on Budweiser
and after a while it starts to have that milky ice cream
flavor to it. It's wholesome, like a cornfed farmgirl, mmmmm....
8. Are your characters based on
They're based on lots of different people, especially
me. The poet Terrence Ross is an actual person, he's a genius
with an IQ of 147 who lives in Fort Greene. He insisted
that I write his IQ on his forehead everytime I buy a poem
from him and draw him in the strip.
9. Drinky Crow and Uncle Gabby
are always shooting each other and
themselves. Do you own a gun yourself?
No, I don't like guns.
10. If you weren't an artist,
what would you be doing to make money?
I shudder to think. I'd probably be wondering how to make
11. Is there anyone in the public
eye aggravating the piss out of you?
I rarely look at the public eye, it doesn't interest me.
12. Is there anyone in the public
eye doing it all right?
Dan Clowes, he's doing what he loves and he's making his
13. Any pop vices like Britney
Spears or Survivor you want to tell us about?
Good God no.
14. Are you interested in other
comic artists out there?
I hate to admit it, but no. Most of my favorite cartoonists
have been dead for a long time.
15. You have been working with
Russell Allman to animate Sock Monkey for the Web. Do you
plan on further utilizing the Web in the future?
No, the web is dead.
16. Has drunk revelry ever earned
you a night in jail?
Many many many times. OK about 15 times.
17. Any upcoming projects we should know about?
Yes, I have a new Sock Monkey children's book coming out
soon, hardcover full color, a new hardcover Maakies collect