Gone Seeing "Gone Missing"


On Saturday, Sari & I went to see the new production of The Civilians’ Gone Missing, at the Barrow Street Theatre, in the West Village. Gone Missing is a wry and whimsical documentary musical crafted from company interviews with real-life New Yorkers about things gone missing: keys, IDs, a Gucci pump… or one’s mind. Directed and written by Steven Cosson with music by award-winning composer Michael Friedman, The Civilians portray more than 30 characters in their signature storytelling cabaret style. This is The Civilians first open-ended Off Broadway production, which is a real coup for them!

As The Civilians cartoonist-in-residence, I was handed the assignment of coming up with art for the show’s publicity materials. Given the subject matter of the show, one of the ideas I came up with was the iconic milk carton image, stuffed with details about the show. Both the company and the venue loved that concept, so that’s what ended up being used for the poster, the program, etc.

The show has received raves (a “Critic’s Pick” from The Times, five stars from Time Out, and various accolades from Variety, The Times of London, The Village Voice,, and all the other New York papers), and I was excited to finally see the show in person. I’ve seen parts of it on DVD, but even though I did a two-page adaptation of one of the scenes for The Vagabonds #2, I’ve never actually seen the show live. And it was all we hoped it would be: inventive, often hilarious, and filled with great music. as always, I was a huge fan of Jennifer R. Morris’s work, who doubles as a woman who loses her pump and a professional organizer.

If you like offbeat live theatre and are in the area, make sure to see the show. And look for copies of The Vagabonds #2 and the (I Am) Nobody’s Lunch/Gone Missing paperback (which I did the cover for) on sale in the lobby.

No Words


No WordsHere’s another of my collaborations with the independent theater group The Civilians. Early last year, they approached me about a book they’re putting together based on their show, Gone Missing. As they said when they contacted me: “The show is about loss and about how the loss of small things can seem enormously resonant despite the relatively trivial material value of something. Six actors portray more than 30 characters who have lost everything from rings and phones to dogs and favorite toys and family heirlooms.” Again, right up my alley!

They continued: “Anyway, we are working to produce a book based on Gone Missing. It’s not exactly a published version of the play. Rather, we’re taking the monologues and pairing each vignette or story with an artist or illustrator. The book will be primarily an art book, something to look at rather than something to read, and I’m very excited about it because its a way for The Civilians to expand the range of artists they work with and the methods behind their philosophy of engaging with the ‘real world.'”

They provided me with a monologue from the show, a harrowing personal reminiscence alternately called “Drunken Englishman” or “No Words.” I’ve never seen the show, but it was my initial feeling that the monologue would be very difficult to adapt. But I love a good challenge — in many ways, that’s what makes a collaboration come alive — so I went at it. I approached the piece from a formalist viewpoint, imposing a series of restraints on myself. In the end, I wanted it to be not exactly comics, not exactly a straight recitation of the monologue, but something in between. Most of all, I wanted to use the panel format to capture the rhythm — the beat, if you will — of the spoken piece. The result is for you to judge.

So, without further ado, I present “No Words.”