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Tony Millionaire

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 has changed?

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)

: Turkey's Nest
Crowd: Old drunks and those who'll grow up to be them
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 come from?

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
talking about.

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 ever had?

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 real people?

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 a living.

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 fortune.

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