Carnivores Inc.

Max Cannon’s Red Meat comic strip is read by millions of folks around the world every week in more than 80 newspapers, mostly alternative newsweeklies, including SN&R. The strip even is published in a handful of different languages: French, Italian, Spanish, Danish and Finnish. That’s pretty damn impressive.

When asked how he feels about this mounting success, Max Cannon gets a perplexed look on his face.

I guess he doesn’t see it that way.

It’s a Thursday afternoon and I’m in a bar talking to Cannon because finally, after seven years, he’s released a new collection of Red Meat strips. Red Meat Gold, his third collection—featuring a little more than 100 strips from 1998 onward, including two very special dead-clown strips—officially hit the streets in March.

It’s about damn time. When asked why it took almost seven years for him to release the new collection: “I just thought I’d take a break from publishing for a while,” he says.

So what has he been up to instead? A lot of stuff involving TV and cinema, he says. He’s working on a horror-movie script. He’s been cranking out some TV show-development projects. He made six short cartoons a while back—some, God help us, with Red Meat characters—that will be running on cell phones. It turns out Comedy Central has contracted with Verizon Wireless to provide programming on cell phones, and the folks at the cable network liked the ’toons enough to run them on tiny, tiny screens.

It’s amazing to think this whole thing started in 1989, when the Arizona Daily Wildcat picked up Red Meat “ever so briefly.” Cannon then proceeded to nag the then-Tucson Weekly editor to pick up the strip. From there, Red Meat spread like wildfire, or at least one that can jump oceans and features a demented milkman and a bolo-tie-wearing freak named Earl.

During our wide-ranging interview, we discussed many topics:

What he looks like naked (I asked because my supposedly straight friend wanted to know): “A lot like Poppin’ Fresh, with genitalia, a belly button and three nipples.”

His age: “I am too old for an eyebrow piercing, but too young for an eyebrow lift.”

How Red Meat translates to other languages and cultures: “In Finland, Dan’s a mailman. I have no idea why. I guess they don’t have milkmen over there.”

What’s up with the “slug line” at the top of every strip: “That’s just my own form of personal poetry. It’s a little something extra for those who don’t like comics, but who love the English language. Some of his favorite slug lines?: “Plastic fruit for a starving nation” and “Official pace car of the apocalypse.”

Milkman Dan: “Milkmen seem so wholesome, and there’s no way anybody can be that wholesome.”

What mainstream strips he enjoys: “I like to look at The Family Circus because it’s so fucking weird. A lot of people say the world of Red Meat is so separated from reality. I think it’s more in step of reality than The Family Circus.”

Finally, we discussed how long he plans on doing Red Meat: “I’ll quit when it starts to suck … or I’ll quit if I don’t enjoy it anymore. I imagine I’ll continue on doing it for many years to come.”