Saturday, July 12, 2008

You've got to get it back, Tony

I've been worried that the shirts I've come up with over the last 9 months have been too weird and esoteric and sales seem to have born that out. So I've tried to reconnect with what made my earlier designs popular. I'm not sure if I've quite got it right but maybe what I came up with today has a little more of the old magic. You decide!

This one is a purist design, I just like drawing wrestlers.

Hey America stop being so crazy ALL THE TIME (aromatherapy is the answer). Believe it or not, socialized medicine isn't the gateway to communism.

A tribute to a scarygoround classic. This can be worn ironically by you, or unironically by you, or your dad. Deadly and parrotheadly. #2 in my musical series!


Pod-Pod said...

I like the socialized healthcare one. America is SO like that, haha

Lauren said...

I am an American who recently spent a couple months in England. They gave me medical treatment and antibiotics for FREE, even though I was a foreigner. I was like, "Thanks, where do I pay?" and they were like, "Honey, this ain't America." Consider me converted to the universal health care cause.

Brian G. said...

I still regret not getting the Jimmy Carter shirt when it was still available. (Curse the family Christmas ban on buying things for yourself - I should have known Internet was still too scary for everyone else to get it for me.)

Nonetheless - the Jimmy Buffet design IS great.

Anonymous said...

Yes, socialized health care is pretty great. I like the part where I get to pay even more taxes than I am now. Because, y'know, I have too much money.

Paul said...

Anon - what you might pay extra in taxes would be more than made up for by not having to pay for health insurance (or your employer having to pay, which means that they can pay you more). Look at the % GDP spend USA vs. UK on healthcare - we have universal free healthcare which (despite what Rudy might clam) is as good as your private system (which excludes tens of millions) at significantly less cost. Long live the NHS - 60 years old today (ish). Rant over, soapbox stashed.

John A said...

Anonymous... I don't think I could get any healthcare in the US for how little I pay here. I think you may have been secretly lobbied by the health insurance industry (a for-profit business, I believe!).

Private healthcare is inevitably better than what the National Health Service provides - but not by so much.

spasticfreakshow said...

i like the healthcare shirt too. as an american ex-pat with socialized health care, i can say - all the people i know feel like we've died and gone to an evolved planet. privatized health care is so barbaric... get with the program! the dinosaur is the perfect mascot for america's "health care" system. i want that shirt - with long sleeves? haha!

Melodypoppet said...

I really like the Wrestler T-shirt ^_^ Wrestlers are fun to draw!

Also, you cannot go wrong with dinosaurs. Fact.

mare said...

I must own the Jimmy Buffet shirt, I sail.

Adam said...

Jimmy Buffett and Socialized Medicine are winners for sure! I'd probably need to buy them both, though. One to express my longing for a government which actually cares for me with the money I pay it. The other to give/show off to my dad, a committed Parrothead who probably liked Jimmy Buffett even more when he was Underground.

Roman said...

The dinosaur shirt is most on point, but I really like the wrestler shirt. Viva los luchadores!

andi said...

I like the jimmy buffet one. I don't like dinosaurs to be political, unless they're Bad Decision Dinosaur.

Chris said...

the buffett shirt is pretty fantastic. the eyes on the paradise cheeseburger really make it.

Ecthelion said...

i can only compare it to canada's socialized healthcare, as that is all i have personal experience with, and i think both systems have their problems, but honestly, i prefer private healthcare.

twenty (hell, even ten) years ago the price comparison would have been no contest - health insurance was quite cheap. but with the sue-happy society in the u.s. today, healthcare prices have exploded to pay for increasing malpractice insurance for the doctors, to a point that the difference is negligable (perhaps even in favor of the socialized systems).

but there are other problems with canada's system. no dentistry for one - i had to get $1000 of dentistry (with insurance, about 5k without) after the move. another thing is availability of specialists. my mother had a flesh-eating disease on her leg that she had to endure for six months while her surgery was arranged - over two years from when she was first diagnosed. i've heard of people where money is less of an object going to the u.s. just to get more complicated procedures done (e.g. brain cancer) because the wait would literally kill them.

as a conservative, i also start to question how efficient the government is at things like that, not to mention government mandates driving prices instead of competition in the market, but honestly, i'm not that political, and that would be much more debatable.

just my 2 pence.

Rob said...

Ha! Go for the Jimmey Buffet one and join the controversy, maybe:

Scroll down to April 11th. ConTROversy. No permalinks, sorry.

Wait, or is this part of the joke?

Hayley said...

i would like to express the opinion that even though i have not bought them due to no income, i have enjoyed the later shirts (particularly OH NO and the ghosts in a skull) much more than these guys.

John A said...

ecthelion: I think it goes without saying that private healthcare offers you the best possible care - if you can afford it. Sadly a large percentage of people can't.

Hayley: those two shirts are my favourites ever, they actually both did reasonably well.

Rob: Jimmy Buffett is riding his Cheeseburger In Paradise, which I imagine to be vast.

sleek said...

The thing people constantly miss about "Universal healthcare" VS. "Private healthcare" is that the rich will ALWAYS be able to buy whatever they want, while under private healthcare, the poor have nothing.

This drives me crazy. One of my friends was going through chemo right when the ignorant Mr. Guiliani was going on about how he couldn't have recieved the quality care he got under socialized medicine...

...but he could have. He could have bought the top 1% surgeons from Harvard med and had them all use solid gold scalpels...

...while my friend was in danger of HAVING HIS CHEMOTHERAPY DISCONTINUED, because the company we worked for was in danger of going under halfway through.

...luckily, the company pulled through, and so did he.

That's the big problem. All consrvatives see themselves as natural "winners", and cannot picture themselves without resources.

They want to keep as much of their money as possible, because they have it. They never consider that the majority don't have any money to keep.

Besides, with state and local taxes in the U.S., we're up around %35 taxes to start with...and we get basically nothing for that money. Cat food when we're old...enough money to keep firmly in poverty when we are unemployed...the security of bombs.

The countries with the most comprehensive social nets (I'm looking at you, Scandinavia)only pay 15% more, and they get much, much more in return, and are the happiest countries ON EARTH.

The other problem is that we (America) have been brainwashed into thinking all governments and economic systems are absolutes...and interdependant. you can't have elements of socialism in democracy, which is patently false, and I would argue that this coutry would benefit much more from more socialism...communism, too.

Without those elements we'd have no labor Unions /collective bargaining, or social social security and unemployment benefits.

Conservatism has done NOTHING positive.

Or in netspeak©,


Sorry, this gets me going.


I like the dinosaur shirt, but I like your comeent on it better. I'd go for a shirt that said "Socialized medicine is not a gateway to Communism" or whatever.

Paolo said...

John, John, John! I completely agree with you that the newest designs are a little too weird and esoteric. In fact, I have been waiting for this day for quite a while, my boy....yeahhh.

Also, the friggin' conservatives in America can scare the public out of anything by telling them that taxes will go up as a result. Universal healthcare WILL raise taxes, but people will get the healthcare portion of their paycheck back anyway. Another claim is that with an evil liberal in office, taxes will undoubtedly be raised to pay for their nosy government programs that plan to disrupt your business dealings....It makes me pretty mad.

kate said...

I love the socialized healthcare one, John. Being a liberal American, I fight with my father on this constantly. I always wanted an SGR T-shirt, but I am poor. Ironically, I cannot currently afford the socialized healthcare shirt because I have an eye infection and had to spend my disposable income on medicine.

No justice, I tell you.

Anonymous said...

I just wonder why people expect something they apparently haven't earned? Healthcare is a service industry. Does the constitution say you have a right to put doctor's hard work to your use?

The only thing guaranteed in America is your right not be messed with by the government. How about a little personal responsibility for a change.

p.s. that being said if thats your system fine. Who cares if your socialist? And if people want some socialism...immigrate. Who wants freedom anywyas? woooo SGR!!

robo said...

Not to beat a dead horse, but in the debate between socialized and private healthcare, one fear of conservative Staters is that with universal coverage, there must be some kind of means of dividing an unlimited demand for medical care with a very limited supply of medical professionals and medical supplies. One popular method has been to ration based on age, on the idea that after a person has lived a fair number of years, they will no longer be eligible for the same benefits.
Likewise, in a universal system, the standard of care generally declines. Here is a study comparing the systems in Canada and the United States: (

Regardless of political stance, we can all agree on the superb quality of scary-go-round.

Navi said...

I think enough people have left serious enough comments about the healthcare business that I don't need to chime in, but...

These shirts are certainly full of win.

Blandwagon said...

Forget the T-shirts; I am waiting for you to make another tea towel. I bought the Shelley Winters Top 10 Monsters one a couple of years back and I love it.

Eric Merrill said...


I adore your comic but your shirts...well...they're lacking something, and that something is everything shirt #2 and #3 have. I don't buy many logo'd T-shirts but I promise you faithfully right now I will buy both if both go on print. They're dead choice.

Anonymous said...

"That's the big problem. All consrvatives see themselves as natural "winners", and cannot picture themselves without resources.They want to keep as much of their money as possible, because they have it. They never consider that the majority don't have any money to keep."

That's the big problem with liberals. They think success is natural. No, you have to *work*. The majority taking unfairly from the few a just as unfair as the reverse.

Anonymous said...


I like your abstract shirts... But you can't argue with the punch and recognizability of a 'Google is Ruining Everything'.

Jen Dockter said...

omg I love Jimmy Buffet in a completely non ironic way. The relative anonymity of the internet is the only thing that makes me admit this. Please don't tell my mother. (p.s. I would buy at least 3 of this shirt).

Matt said...

I nearly soiled myself at the Jimmy Buffet shirt. Much love to the man, he's a drunk, a hick legend and an all you can eat!


Vivienne said...

I know this is no help, but I just want to say that I have loved almost all of the shirts that you've put out and I would love to buy them--however, the US dollar to British pound exchange rate means coughing up a large part of my salary, which barely supports me as is. :( Once my country's economy makes a come back (if it ever does, oh for the love of biscuits, let it come back!) then I will happily partake of SGR shirts of all ilks!

John A said...


the shirts are printed in America and will cost exactly the same (just about) to you whatever the exchange rate - about $20 for the American Apparels.


Tiffany said...

I love the dinosaur. LOVE. I mean, he's a dinosaur with a STANCE.

matt said...

I love the Dinosaur and Jimmy Buffet shirts!

I consider any country without universal health care to be third world.

Health care is no more a service industry than the police, fire service or military are. They are all fundamental life-saving services that any civilised government should provide to their people.

Keegan said...

I want that health care shirt.

Make it. So I can buy it. In quantity.

Sarah said...

In agreement with whomever suggested it, I would also like to see a tea towel. (I collect them.)

I've actually been liking the recent T-shirt designs, and do not think they are too esoteric.

In response to the health care debacle, having lived in both England and America: Paying out the wazoo for every bit of medical attention sucks, but then again, so does waiting six months for an MRI.

Every system has its problems.

spasticfreakshow said...

agree with matt that private health care is third world. sorry about the 2 year wait for surgery in canada - that is also third world! i do not feel that this is a political t-shirt at all - in a socialized system, if i don't like my health care doctor or surgeon, i can still pay for private practice - so everyone wins! it is not that the rich pay for the poor - it is that the insurance companies and doctors do not rob us blind and homeless!

i am suddenly feeling blessed to live in the middle east - in a country at war with all its neighbors - having been in the hospital for surgery recently and not paid a dime and not waited and having received excellent treatment from excellent doctors. though i had been down on my city since the most recent terrorism - truly, i realize now, i live in the promised land!

newer shirts are abstract and esoteric and the oh no is a perfect example - now some may love that and bully for them - bears will eat you is my all-time favorite webcomic t-shirt and i think i will be buying the health care one even if it is short sleeved and immodest.

Mike said...

So I wrote this in an email to John, and he told me that he did not have the time (or inclination?) to discuss it with me, so I present it here, if anyone cares...

All interesting points in the blog about the whole health care thing, but there are some points you may wish to be cognizant of. I have hear told that the price of raised taxes in the health care system will be offset by a lack of deducted insurance. While I am sure this is true, it is unfortunately what one could label as "un-American." No, I am not some confederate flag-waving Pabst drinking hillbilly, but follow me on this.

We are a relatively strict capitalist system here on this side of the pond. I know that this is not always a good thing, but with the inherent perceived heartlessness that comes along with severe individuality, comes the freedom of individual accomplishment. We wish, by and large, to achieve the American Dream, which is to essentially become wildly successful from the sweat of our own back. Government subsidized health care would essentially run counter to all that by taking even more of what an individual earns and pay it out to others, regardless of their own employment and social status.

And...that is something that we already kind of have a problem with here, as you may have seen of welfare. There are vast numbers of people in the US drawing on welfare that do not deserve it, and do not even qualify. I learned this from my mother-in-law, who works for Child Protective Services in the same building as the Family Welfare office. She informed me that the state is aware that there are many people drawing checks that do not deserve it, but there are simply not enough case workers to evaluate them all.

Lastly, I may have been on the side of a subsidized system, but a few years ago my sister used the study abroad program at UNLV to attend university in Brighton. While there, she experienced an illness, and had to wait almost three weeks to see an -ahem- female specialist. During that time she almost had to return home to receive care. I was, frankly, appalled.

The issue with the above is that here in the States, unless you wan to get a simple antibiotic or a flu shot, you are going to have to go see a specialist. If the subsidized system ever did come into force, it would mean that anything other than the mildest illness would have to wait an extended period of time to be treated.

Listen, i am not saying that this is a good system we have over here, but it is going to have to work for now, because any other system would be a very bad fir. Sure, it would be great if we could completely revamp the system, cut costs, and erase the fraudulent malpractice claims that are driving costs up, but it will be a long road, and putting the cart before the horse would be detrimental not only to our health, but to our national identity as capitalist individuals.

That's it. Ignore any obvious omissions or repetitions, for I am a tired man whose son has decided it is more fun to hurl toys down the stairs than go quietly to bed.


-Mike Speegle
Las Vegas

0Khan said...

I love Luchadors, Jimmy Buffet AND Dinosaurs who are afraid of the Red Scare! All win!

sleek said...

Y'all got some funny ideas.

First off, the English/Canadian system is not the ideal, or only system outside of the American one.

Second, "Universal Healthcare" does not men "Socialized Healthcare", and need not be government run.

The trick is it has to be universal, which puts volume to work for the consumer, and you have to simultaneously regulate the costs of the care, while deregulating the insurance providers, so you get literally hundreds of companies competing for each consumer.

>>That's the big problem
>>with liberals. They
>>think success is
>>natural. No, you have to
>>*work*. The majority
>>taking unfairly from the
>>few a just as unfair as
>>the reverse.

LOL. Do you even understand the concept of a Democracy?

That statement is one of the most "un-American" things I have ever read.

This country was formed out of enlightenment era ideals, *specifically* throwing down the medeival system of lords and serfs and such, which you seem to be advocating. (Services for the wealthy, screw everyone else).

I will also tell you that every person who has ever worked considers themselves to be the most hard-working person ever, and the most deserving of priveledge.

They/you are nothing special. Your life is worth no more than anyone else's, and you're still $10 of cheap chemicals.

You are NOT mommy's special little angel. You "deserve" the same as everyone else.

Get over it.

BTW, I don't identify as "Liberal". Unlike another poster, I do drink Pabst, I am from the rust belt, and, darn it, I own a very shiny gun.

I just think the American health-care system is farce...woo! We're #37!, John...apperently health care is a pretty hot issue. Perhaps an entire line of health care clothing is in order?

You should also work the other side of the aisle, though...maybe a shirt with the Pennyworth character from Monopoly standing on a hil of diseased poor people? :D

fingle said...

Yay! The Commenteers have found the blog! Happy, happy day!

All Jimmy Buffet fans should be notified if you make this shirt! They have large amounts of disposable income, whenever they aren't drinking to excess down in the orchestra pit at his concerts.

This shirt may make you a rich man if it appeals to Jimmy's core fan base, the ladies in the very front of the pit, pressed up against the crowd barrier, with their giant hand-decorated parrothead hats and their high blood-alcohol content numbers. Those are people who take "partying" to extremes. No health care system in the world will be able to provide them with the livers they will soon need.

Eric said...

I, myself, would not buy ANY of these T-shirts. Unless, of course, you sold them. Then I may change my position, and posture.

Laura said...

Will you consider doing a hoody again or did it not sell enough? I wear mine for PE at school and it scares the kids, always a good thing!

catherine said...

I would buy the socialised medicine dinousaur!

Paul said...

I fear this is getting a lengthy discussion, but to Mike's point about his sister. There was a delay in her seeing someone on the free NHS, so she had to return home to see someone immediately for which she paid (or had insurance). In the UK if she paid or had insurance she could likewise have seen someone more rapidly (and more easily than flying home?)

The critical difference is that everyone in the UK - even those who unlike you sister do not have the money or insurance to see someone immediately - do still get to see someone for free (and a lot more rapidly now than 11 years ago,,,) and generally the person that they see is of an equivalent or higher standard to the person they see privately - there is nothing like the talent drain from state to private that you see in the US.

And your do have a form of socialized healthcare in the States - Medicaid - reverse the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest and you could cover everyone with it who is currently left behind (broadly speaking)

Paul said...

Sorry and just to the point on cost:

US - Healthcare cost 16% of GDP, lots of people not covered

UK - Healthcare cost 8% of GDP, everyone covered

Whilst I am liking the whole American Dream thing I fear that the only dreams fulfilled are those of health insurers & private doctors

Sasha said...

Can you do a rerun of the Tupping Liberty shirts please please please?

James said...

Mike may find it horrifying that his sister had to wait three weeks to see a specialist, but he may rest assured that the First World finds it equally horrifying that in the American system somebody can actually die because they can't afford medical treatment.

That some Americans continue to defend such a system despite paying more, per person, in tax dollars for it than three-quarters of the OECD when most of them also pay for insurance on top of that.

spiderbaby said...

I like all the new designs but I wouldn't buy any of them on a t-shirt (I've bought a number of other SGR shirts which I love).

Everyone in New Hampshire should buy the Jimmy "Bouffon" t-shirt though. By the end of that summer holiday, I disliked both cheeseburgers and karaoke intensely.

matt said...

"agree with matt that private health care is third world"

Er, thanks but I never said that! I said that a lack of universal health care is third world. As other commenters have noted the two are far from mutually exclusive.

Anyway, hands up if you love SGR!

sleek said...

BTW, I would buy a shirt of one of my favorite SGR quotes:

"The sea be no place for girlish whimsy!"

I used that as my myspace quote for months!

Anonymous said...

Other people outside of the U.S. of course have severely different views due to being used to their own system. And of course America has the reputation of being the land of oppurtunity. But that oppurtunity doesn't come in the form of handouts. The entire idea of America is to break down the class system. Not to take from the rich to provide for the poor, but to allow any one from any class the ability to raise their station. Not with hand outs and pity, with sweat and blood and honor and idealism.

We may have forgotten a few principles along the way e.g. public education but who would oppose basics like that? The only thing an American needs is the freedom to make their own way, wihtout being dragged down by oppressive laws and taxation.

spasticfreakshow said...

ok matt, well i agree with paul about what happens when healthcare is totally privatized, as it is now in the u.s. - it becomes a drain on the american economy and still serves nobody but the insurance companies, drug companies and rich doctors.

but i guess i am not buying the shirt since it is only available on american apparel, which i do not buy.
oh well...

Anonymous said...

To Sleek,

I wanted to message you in private that we may continue our argument without turning Mr. Allison's blog into our debate hall, but clicking on your name dosent do it, and I am too lazy and listless to figure out how on a phone. But as for a response:

Whoa. I think you may have grossly misread my comment, and I have little idea as to how you could have drawn such an ugly viewpoint from it. I only meant to say that nothing is gained without work and very few are handed anything, conservative, liberal or otherwise. I went on to imply that taking the fruits of the rich's labour to give to the poor is still coerced *taking*.

If you would like to enlighten me as to otherwise (nicely now, I'm a fragle little boy!), please email me at, or message me on by AIM (TheGoose109).

Paul said...

I should leave this alone, but was at the Truck music festival at the weekend and my friend in a Jimmy Carter T-shirt fell into conversation with a fellow SGR fan and this blog thread came up - so I felt I had to get some closure here...

bad1news: I love meritocracies - the trouble is that to get them to work everyone has to start on a level playing field If you grew up in a blue-blood East Coast family and attended the Philips Exeter Academy* you would have a slightly greater opportunity at success in life than someone with equal skills growing up in a Baltimore housing project. To get a true meritocracy you would need everyone separated from their biological parents and raised in government farms. In the absence of this approach it is fairly reasonable to have a system that stops people dying from being unable to afford basic healthcare.

Mashai: "taking the fruits of the rich's labour to give to the poor is still coerced *taking*."

One thing that always amazes me in these discussions is that view - often sub-conscious - that in some way the rich and the poor live in different societies. The reality is of course that they form part of the same social fabric. The rich need the poor to flourish not only to work providing the goods and services that they use, they also need them as a market for the goods and services that have made them rich (or to create a market for to companies that make up their market etc etc).

More critically, if you don't look after the poor, then society collapses. Nothing has intrinsic value (not even gold) just a notional worth ascribed by society. Take away society and your riches become nothing more than a series of 1s and 0s etched on a broken hard-drive in a burning bank.

To put it another way (badly paraphrasing Jarvis Cocker):

Yeah, the poor, those useless poor, produce the social fabric which enables me to lead a materially comfortable lifestyle**

Right, more than enough said.

*I used to go out with the daughter of an East-coast blue-blood who attended the Philips Exeter Academy. He was a very nice chap and totally aware of the privileged start he had in life.

**On reflection this was quite a *bad* way of putting it, but hopefully it makes sense.

Brian G. said...

Any chance, based on today's comic, that #3 in your music series will be a Loggins-McDonald twofer? Because that would be totally smooth.