Megg and Mogg, for anyone who has been living in some sort of rarefied environment, are a depressed stoner witch and her comforting stoner black cat. They have a friend named Owl who is a talking Owl. The three layabout confederates are creations of Tasmanian-born cross-dressing cartoonist Simon Hanselmann. A couple of years ago, they spent several aimless weeks hanging out on the New York Times‘ bestseller list, collected in a anthology published in 2014 by Fantagaphics books called Megahex.
A follow-up collection, Megg & Mogg in Amsterdam and Other Stories, was out on 4/20 of 2016, also from Fantagraphics. That date, 4/20, may or may not be loaded with significance, but having only five questions with Simon Hanselmann, the 4/20 answer will have to be left up in the air, for now, and pondered later while high on Hanselmann’s Girl Mountain.
The Skeeve: What is the primary life’s struggle for Megg, Mogg, and Owl?
Simon Hanselmann: Megg and Mogg mostly just worry about where their next ounce of weed is coming from. As long as they possess an ounce of weed, everything is fine, a bubble of perfect time.
Megg gets money from the government for pretending to be mentally incapable of holding down a regular job. Mogg gets a small stipend from his parents. Owl on the other hand has higher aspirations and tries to work hard and get ahead. He is depressingly (some say hilariously) thwarted at every junction. Is happiness real? Is it always going to hurt like this? Is it too late? Is this the decline (for real)?
The Skeeve: How much do you live vicariously through your characters?
Simon Hanselmann: They live vicariously through me. Sadly, I am everything that they are. But they are nothing that I am.
The Skeeve: Are you often recognized in public and how much more famous could you stand to be?
Simon Hanselmann: I’m a “cartoonist.” We don’t really have the recognition thing going on. A very, very small subsection of the population is aware of our existence. Also, I’m usually in drag on the Internet, looking like a beautiful lady. When I go out to the gas station to buy more energy drinks, I’m usually just dressed like “a 12-year-old boy who has too much money” (according to my wife).
I could stand to be a hell of a lot more famous. I want a hot tub. I want those Versace sneakers with the big door knockers on them. (My wife will loooove those.)
The Skeeve: Why art?
Simon Hanselmann: It’s just a cult, to distract you from the horror of existence, like any religion.
The Skeeve: What impact has the digital-online world had on the way you work?
Simon Hanselmann: It’s made the dissemination of bong and penis jokes much more fluid, and it’s made swathes of Russian teenagers follow me on Instagram.
I still work the same as I have for the past 20 years though. Physically, with pencil, ink, food coloring, brushes. Sweat warping the pages in summer….
I am staunchly against the use of photoshop and tablets. Bunch of fucking rich kid fakers.
All images copyright Simon Hanselmann.