Doug Skinner: An Archive on Your Gizmo

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The Presidents’ Tragedy

October 23rd, 2016 · 1 Comment

In this toxic election cycle, it’s appropriate to ponder the history of the presidency. I offer my stirring pageant, The Presidents’ Tragedy. It’s in five brief acts (with a prologue and epilogue spoken by David Rice Atchison, who was president for one day, sort of), in blank verse, and depicts all of our presidents trying to fight off a populace demanding more money and power. Here’s the beginning of the first act:


(The East Room in the White House. GEORGE WASHINGTON is seated in robes, looking like the statue by Horatio Greenough. Enter NIXON, BUCHANAN, TRUMAN, and WILSON.)

WASHINGTON: Good morning, fellow presidents. Come in.
I’ll tell you why I called you here today.
NIXON: We’ll wait outside till thou put on thy pants.
WASHINGTON: No need, sweet Dick. Come in and lend an ear.
WILSON: But why the sheet? Is this a toga party?
TRUMAN: Are you a fellow member of the Klan?
WASHINGTON: I wear these robes so I’ll look more like Zeus.
BUCHANAN: It suits you, sir. You have a manly chest.
WASHINGTON: Why, thank you, James.
BUCHANAN:                                                Let’s all take off our pants.
WASHINGTON: Not now, sweet James. My tooth is acting up.
Is there more laudanum?
BUCHANAN:                      There’s plenty, sir.
(WASHINGTON takes a dose of laudanum.)
WASHINGTON: That’s better. Gentlemen, we are besieged.
An angry crowd has gathered at the gates.
WILSON: We’ll teach them to be civil.
TRUMAN:                                                Give ‘em hell.
NIXON: Is this a mob of journalists and Jews?
WASHINGTON: Just common folks, as far as I can tell.
NIXON: But art thou sure it’s not some Hebrew plot?
WASHINGTON: Why all these thees and thous? This isn’t Shakespeare.
NIXON: Forgive me, ‘tis the custom of the Quakers.

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Le Scat Noir 216

October 9th, 2016 · 2 Comments

Due to the unusually wacko presidential campaign we are now weathering stateside, Le Scat Noir has released a special Infection issue ahead of schedule. Along with other contributions, some topical, you will find my translations of Erik Satie and Alphonse Allais, as well as another page of my musical instrument designs. It is, as always, free in every sense of the word.

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Le Scat Noir 215

October 3rd, 2016 · 1 Comment

Le Scat Noir #215 is now available, edited by Norman Conquest, and free for all in PDF! Right here! Right now! Hop to it! You’ll find a page of my musical instrument drawings in it, as well as pieces by Conquest, Paulo Brito, Jason Rolfe, and Paul Kavanagh. And remember the Black Scat fundraiser, while you’re at it.

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Frontispiece for “Double Over”

September 18th, 2016 · 2 Comments

Black Scat Books will soon publish my translation of Alphonse Allais’s first book, Double Over: Blackcattish Stories (A se tordre: Histoires chatnoiresques). At my publisher’s request, I drew the following frontispiece for it. Since the stories were taken from Allais’s contributions to Le Chat Noir, the paper published by the cabaret of the same name, I invoked its eponymous black cat, and took the latticework from a photo of its seating. Allais fans will recognize the pictures on the wall, shown at the Incoherents’ Exhibitions of 1882 and 1883: Paul Bilhaud’s Negroes fighting in a tunnel and Allais’s response, First communion of chlorotic girls in the snow.

Double Over should be out next month.


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September 11th, 2016 · 1 Comment


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Musical Instruments

September 7th, 2016 · 1 Comment

I’ve drawn imaginary musical instruments for years. Here are a few.


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Index Cards (80)

August 29th, 2016 · 1 Comment


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The Chromatologist

August 15th, 2016 · 1 Comment

Ever eager for literary constraints, I wrote this tale in heroic couplets, alternating masculine and feminine rhymes, with each stanza an acrostic of the title. Heroic couplets seemed appropriate, since it concerns adultery at a cosplay convention. Here’s the first stanza (of eight):

The Chromatologist was colorblind:
He had to check the colors in his mind.
Eccentric though it seemed as a vocation,
Considering his crucial limitation,
He’d boldly made the choice to specialize,
Regardless of his insufficient eyes.
Of course, he kept his failing from his clients,
Mistrusting them to comprehend that science
Assumes that even normal sight’s too dim
To work the work that they’d entrust to him.
On many jobs, his young amanuensis,
Labouche, corrected some chromatic census,
Or verified a red was really red,
Green green, and not some pink or brown instead.
In short, the doctor’s eyesight was defective,
So he employed Labouche as a corrective.
They’d just wrapped up a case that afternoon.

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Index Cards (79)

August 1st, 2016 · 1 Comment


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July 25th, 2016 · 1 Comment


I’ve wanted to build something like this for years. After some experimentation with materials and dimensions, I settled on 20 feet of 1/2 inch copper pipe. I originally wanted it to go around the whole room, but 20 feet seems to produce the best tone. It now hangs near the ceiling in my music room. I’m working on a plastic version for the bathroom.

UPDATE: I finished the bathroom roomhorn. It goes around the whole room, near the ceiling, using 30 feet of vinyl tubing, with a plastic funnel for a bell. How have I gone through life this long without a bathroom roomhorn?

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