February 22, 2023
Stuart McMillen is a cartoonist disguised as a systems thinker. His long-form comics condense important academic topics into understandable and entertaining works of art. Stuart tackles topics in the fields of ecology, economics, psychology, and sociology. With original drawings, thought-provoking narration, and expertly paced storytelling, he introduces readers to critical ideas that are often under-reported and underappreciated, including energy slaves, property rights, peak oil, and the war on drugs. Go behind the scenes with Stuart to learn how he crafts his comics, from his philosophy to the nitty gritty of how he makes a living. And be sure to explore his work at stuartmcmillen.com.
- Stuart’s website contains his comics and other artwork.
- Some of the specific comics mentioned in the episode include:
- Check out Stuart’s Patreon page if you’re interested in supporting his work.
Melody Allison Hi, this is producer Melody Allison. In this bonus episode, Rob interviews Australian cartoonist Stuart McMillen. And just a heads up: season five of Crazy Town is just around the corner with new episodes beginning March 15. Now to the show. Rob Dietz Stuart McMillen is a cartoonist, artist, and educator from Canberra, Australia. He draws thoughtful long-form comics about topics he finds interesting. And I gotta say, those topics align very closely with what we cover here at the Post Carbon Institute. And we're talking things from the fields of sustainability, ecology, economics, and psychology. Stuart, you publish your comics for free on your website. People can get there at energyslaves.com. And your work is supported through crowdfunding. So people please take a look at that as well. Welcome to Crazy Town, Stuart. Stuart McMillen Thanks very much for having me. Rob Dietz Yeah, it's it's good to be in conversation with you. Look, the first thing that I want to discuss with you is the set of topics that you select, I mean, you've covered peak oil, climate, addiction, capitalism, racism, the commons, technology, all this heady stuff -- how do you go about choosing these topics? Stuart McMillen I mean, I'm the kind of person who reads widely into all of these topics. And I've got a big interest in just continuing my knowledge on all of these fronts. And I think the main thing that I use when I'm choosing a topic is finding something that hasn't particularly been covered well by anyone else, or at least, not in an accessible way. So like, for example, when I was creating my peak oil comic, there was a lot of people who'd covered that topic, in a lot of great academic detail. And there was a lot of technical information that was available out there through graphs and academic papers, and fairly heavy books. But I wasn't really aware of anyone else who had covered that in an accessible format, there was something that the average person could get involved with. And that was, by contrast to a lot of great accessible stuff that have been covered on climate change, for example. So I realized, hey, with peak oil and fossil fuel depletion, there's a great gap in the market here. So that's where I came in, and used comics as my particular way of telling this story to readers. Rob Dietz Yeah, I really appreciate the accessibility that you're talking about. It's the reason that I got in touch with you in the first place, you know? I realized that I was telling students in a presentation, the story of St. Matthew Island, which is really a story of ecological overshoot, and some overtones of population growth and burning through resources. And I remember finding that you had done a comic on it, and being like, "Well, I should just give students the link here and let them read this, because it's far better than anything I'm gonna say." So it's, I think, a testament to the medium of comics, and also to your ability to to get the information in there. Maybe you could talk a little bit about that, because I know it's a... obviously there's an art form there with drawing, but how about the art form of condensing one of these really difficult academic topics into something that's done in 10 or 15 or however many -- 50 panels? Yeah, well, it is something that I've been refining, as I develop as an artist, and when we're talking about St. Matthew Island, that was a comic that I, if memory serves, published in 2010. So that is a good 13 years ago that I was doing that one, but that was around about the time when I had moved from my early work, where I was still learning the medium and then moved into something that I can still hang my hat on at the moment. But it was very much understanding that comics are a mixture of the words and the artwork, and the sort of pacing between each of the individual panels, and just realizing that there are some times where, for example, you'll have the text doing more of the work than than the artwork. Or you might have places where the artwork does more work than the text. Or you might... by controlling the size of the individual panels of the comics, you can either slow down or speed up time. Like one of the things that I that I've been doing in my more recent comics, including the peak oil comic, including energy slaves, The Town without Television, I'll have periods where I've got a lot of comic panels in fairly quick succession with a fair density of information in them. And then I'll have a panel where it's just maybe a wide landscape shot with three words on the page, you know, so that we have this moment of pause, where we look more at the artwork. And the text that connects it means that the person is having this moment of pause as they read the thing, which is sort of understanding the strength of the medium, which I can't really imagine prose writing doing to quite the same extent. I've never quite seen authors of nonfiction books who have the luxury of having an entire page that just has a single sentence on it, and then a whole lot of whitespace. It would probably look a little bit weird. But when it comes to comics, because that's a point where the artwork does a lot of the work, it doesn't feel weird to have minimal text and the artwork taking over at that stage. Stuart McMillen Yeah, that's really interesting. Obviously, I thought of the interplay between art and words, but not the mastery over time that you're wielding. That's really interesting. And I do notice as a reader of your work, those contemplative moments like, "Oh, wow, look at that spread," especially your recent work, The Town without Television, which is about what happened in a small Canadian town that was late to getting broadcast TV. It was a chance for a social researcher to be able to analyze some data on before and after TV got introduced. And really fascinating. I know you're ensconced in that work still -- it's a big ongoing project. But I really did see there were some -- let's call them stopping points -- where it's like, "Oh, let me look at this frame for a bit. This one's really cool." It doesn't hurt that some of the landscapes are pretty awesome, since it was a mountainscape that was blocking the TV waves from getting there. Exactly. And it was really well written up by the researcher Tannis MacBeth. She published a book, which was about this television experiment. It was just a beautiful, natural experiment that she was... she was aware this was one of the last towns in North America to get TV reception a good 20 years after the rest of the continent had been saturated by TV. And she had the foresight to be able to do some before and then some after experiments into the way that the community functioned. And the way that the individual children's reading abilities were affected by the TV. And to come to the point that you just made, she's got a brilliant book that tells you how this experiment was done and the results that she got. But you don't get a sense of what the town actually looked like, by reading the book, it's just white pages with black text on it, and there's no photographs whatsoever that show you what the town looked like, or what the fashion was that the people were wearing at the time of the experiment. So that's just one thing that I can give you -- the exact same information that she's giving you through her textbook, but I'm able to just illustrate it, and in the way that I'm telling the story, you can actually follow the professor into the town as she's driving her car there and seeing all of the sights coming at you as as she's arriving in town. And that's part of the journey for the readers as well. Rob Dietz Yeah, kind of immersive. I'm going to be a little bit of a salesperson for you throughout this interview, because I really do want people to go check out your work. You can find that at energyslaves.com. And yeah, if you like what you see there, as I said, Stuart is crowdfunded. So if you like the work and can afford to help, please do so. One thing that I have felt or seen in your work, or come to the conclusion is that you are a systems thinker. And by that I mean that you recognize the connections between things. You look beneath the surface to see what's going on. And you understand that what happens over here is related to what happens over there. And there's a feedback loop that can happen. And so things can be pretty complex. I'm wondering, well, first of all, do you agree with me that you tend to think in systems but also, if that's the case, where do you think that came from? Is that something you learned in school? Did it come naturally? You know, I guess I just want to know, how did you become a systems thinker? I think the way that I approached the topics of my work, the comics, and the content that I write about, I'd say that yes, I am thinking in systems. I'm refusing to just accept what's happening on the surface. Like, for example, I'm just mentally thinking about all of the topics that I've drawn comics about as I'm talking to you. And just the one that came to me was my comics on drug policy. And one way to look at the drug problem in quotations is, "Let's go and arrest all of the drug dealers, let's go and arrest all of the drug users in the world for breaking the law." But of course, the way that I approach things with my two comics on the topic is to think about well, why is it so that we are diverting so much of society's resources to the policing of these laws in this way? And why are we paying tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars to have security guards standing guard over people in prisons for crimes that potentially should not even be crimes in the first place? So that's just one example with my drugs comics that I am looking beyond just the surface narrative that goes on with some of these topics, and just taking a step back, and then maybe another step back and saying, "Well, why are we doing this in the first place?" And that's a similar thing to my two comics on fossil fuels as well, which is, we might be talking about the day-to-day fluctuations in prices at the petrol pump, or the gas pump, as you'd say, over in the USA. But yeah, I'm taking a step back and saying, "Well, let's think about this amazing substance that we have -- petroleum which is powering so much of our civilization and allowing us to operate on superhuman levels. And let's think about what a privilege this is to have this at our fingertips. And let's think a little further down the track about how long there is to go for this to remain in our lives. And what are we going to do when this all runs out?" That's the topic of my energy slaves comic, for example, which is about all of the magical workers that we can't see that are doing so much work on our behalf. And where did these energy slaves come from? How long are they going to be with us? Rob Dietz Yeah, I really appreciate that. And it's obviously something we wrestle with here at the Post Carbon Institute. And a lot of it stems from people just not really understanding energy, and taking it for granted -- just how much energy they can access and how cheaply they can access it. And I think that's something your comic does a really good job of discussing, to get an understanding of what a just incredible gift it was to be able to access all of this energy from coal and oil and natural gas. And I really don't think people have a sense of the scale of what we're able to achieve. And like I said, you end up taking it for granted. So yeah, I really think your comic does that -- it kind of does it with, with the main character Buckminster Fuller, coming to this realization that, you know, okay, horsepower was a term that made sense when we were actually using horses, but he reconceived of all of our machinery and technology and whatnot being run... like what what if we had people doing this work? And how many of them would it take? And it's pretty startling when you find out to drive my car for a tank's worth of gas or petrol is something like two years of work. Stuart McMillen And I guess it also, learning that knowledge allows you to pick your battles a little bit more about the things that you care about. So for example, if you're the kind of person who gets angry at your kids or angry at your spouse for leaving the light on and wasting all of this electricity, you'll soon see that that is absolutely nothing compared to the cost of driving an extra mile down the road, in terms of the sheer horsepower or human power that it would have taken, if you can imagine pushing a car down the road for an extra mile or kilometer. That would take so much human effort compared to simply being on a treadmill and literally generating enough energy to have a light bulb on in the corner of the room. Or even as I say in my energy slaves comic, just imagining how many human being equivalents it would take to catapult a jumbo jet through the air all the way from the United States to Europe. Rob Dietz Yeah, it's dumbfounding -- the scale, and certainly here in Crazy Town, we are always wrestling with these kinds of issues. And I know you -- you and I both are avid cyclists -- and we try to live sort of congruent to our values, but it's so hard in this system that we're born into. And, you know, I think you hit that really nicely in your your comics as well. You've got one that I really appreciated on the topic of racism. And you basically out yourself as having grown up as having racist ideas and racist friends. And I think a big part of your point there is, "This is a system around me that I was part of," and it took some kind of jolt to get you thinking in a different way and to develop your own thinking on the topic. And so I mean, I think in one sense, it's how to get out of a system that you're in. But in another sense, I find it also kind of courageous that you are willing to put yourself out there and be a truth teller like that. How did you feel putting that together and putting yourself out there like that? Stuart McMillen Yeah. Well, it's good that you acknowledge that because that was the exact point that I was trying to get to, was to acknowledge, yes, I had these views. In the past, if anyone's listening to this and wanted to read the comic, they can go to iusedtoberacist.com. And, yeah, as you say, it is about the society that was surrounding me when I was growing up, in my case in the 1990s, in regional Australia. And just thinking of the times where I would be saying racist jokes, in a public situation, whether it was around family, whether it was in the schoolyard with a teacher listening in, and just thinking, "Well, I was only saying this because other people were making these jokes and using these slurs that I'd heard before." And I'd pick them up. And yeah, getting to the age of thinking, "Well, why? Why am I saying this," feeling disappointed and angry that no adults had picked me up and sort of taken me aside and saying, "Well, let's not say this, or think this for the matter, because this is just not a fair way to be, you know, the way that you're making other people feel." As I depict in the comic, the kind of the negativity that was entering my mind and influencing the way that I was feeling about these other groups. So yeah, I thought it would be a useful thing, either for people who are thinking that way themselves to think, "Oh, why am I thinking this?" Or for people who, in particular, are the victims of some of this terminology and ways of thoughts -- if you're having someone at the moment doing this to you, there is some hope that they may change their mind and start to enlighten themselves and think in a different way. Rob Dietz Yeah, yeah. Well, and again, it comes back to connections. I mean if we go back to the energy story, if we're going to get off of fossil fuels, there's going to be an amount of powering down that needs to happen, which, you know, if you're talking about all these things, like cross-Atlantic flights, well, look, it's really easy if you have some money, to pay to an airline, and then end up halfway across the world after six or eight hours. I mean, that's a lot easier than rowing a kayak across the ocean, of course. So there's sort of like a feeling like, "Well, that's all it takes -- I just have to figure out how to earn enough money in the economy to be able to afford that." Well, if that's not so much going to be the case, then what we're needing to do is all work together and make a shared sacrifice. And then the connection there is: if we're scapegoating others and taking on attitudes that it's not me, it's them, we're not going to go very far down a successful path of sharing sacrifice. And so I think, you know, you're not being preachy (maybe the way I am right now) in your comics. It's kind of like you put these topics together, and then the reader can make their own conclusions. Are you doing that intentionally, or is it just kind of like a culmination of having put all these things together over the years? Stuart McMillen You've definitely identified something that I do aim for I try and make comics and thinkpiece comics that will be relevant not only this month, not only this year, but for a long time, making sure that they wouldn't date, that they would still be relevant. The comics on peak oil, for example: I've written them in a way so that we're thinking one or two steps back from the topics of the day. And it's very much like, well, this is something our civilization is going to need to face over the coming hundreds or thousands of years. And even if we have these miraculous discoveries of certain other technologies that will extend the roller coaster into the future a little bit further, there's still a reckoning that needs to happen at some stage. Rob Dietz Yeah, you have a very short comic called, "Let's Talk about Capitalism" that does this really well -- you don't... I know, you've got some skeptical views on at least some of the damage that's caused in a profit-maximizing economy, but your comic essentially, is, "Let's just discuss the subject amongst ourselves and see when we toss the ideas of capitalism around, what do we come up with?" You're not saying, "Let's discuss it and get rid of it immediately. Or let's point out all the flaws in it or whatever." Yeah, it's more like, "No, let's bring this out of the shadows and have some conversation about it." I do appreciate that you seem to have a trust that people can think on their own. Stuart McMillen Yeah, well, the title of that comic is "Not Talking about Capitalism." And it's very much about the fact that if you look at the nightly news, the thing that's not discussed is that capitalism is what is making all of these decisions happen. And I think, well, that's what's sitting behind a lot of the decisions that get made in the world where like, for example, we have a beautiful natural ecosystem that we decide to fell and then turn into timber or turn into a housing development. We talk about the decision to do that without acknowledging what is in our individual and societal heads to allow such decisions to be made unquestioningly. So I just think, well, "Why doesn't the word capitalism get used?" You know, if we are going to do it, fine. But let's just talk about the system of logic that we're using to make these decisions. Rob Dietz Yeah, I think that brings up for me another thing that I see as a thread running through a lot of your comics, and that's this idea that comes up a lot in Crazy Town discussions and any big topic -- complex thing -- is that there's nuance. And there's also a balance to be had. And let me give you an example that you shared, in one of your comics. You have one titled "First Got the Internet," and it's autobiographical, right? It's about when you first had easy access to the internet, but really, it's about how we as a society have become addicted to searching and scrolling online. And in the comic, I appreciate how you lay out the method that you've incorporated into your life of tamping down your own addictive tendencies. But you don't label the internet in this comic as good or bad. It's not a this or that. There's nuance there. And there's a balance to be had, right? I mean, I love some things we can do with the Internet. It's amazing that you and I can be in conversation, and maybe this conversation is useful to somebody else. But you know, there's also an extreme going the other direction. And I like how you're advocating for good habits, intentional use of the Internet as a helpful tool. But I'm wondering -- this viewpoint, this ability to kind of look for that balance point -- does that come from your observations of the real world? Or maybe it's just something you picked up from incessant web surfing and spending too much time... No, I'm wondering how you how you came to see that nuance and find these balance points. Stuart McMillen Yeah. So essentially, I'd like to leave people with some intellectual food to think differently about the world and their behaviors within the world. And I find that the way to change people's mind is not to come at them with propaganda that shouts at them that what they are thinking is wrong, and instead, they they ought to be ashamed of what they're doing, and they ought to do this other behavior instead. And you know, you can think of 100 different people who come at you with those kinds of ways of, you know, making people feel shameful about eating meat, making people feel ashamed about having an abortion, making people feel ashamed about some other thing that you can imagine. And whenever I've been either in conversation with people like this, or when I've just been reading material that these people have put forward, I've recognized that I always rankle with that sort of approach and start to, yeah, just really stop listening, even if it's someone who may be something that I'm agreeing with -- just seeing someone acting in that way is a really big turnoff for me. So I guess the way that I describe my approach, instead of doing the door knocker approach where you're knocking on someone's front door, and then putting a pamphlet in their face, saying exactly what they should believe, the sort of approach that I'll take is to find some sort of common ground with someone else. And in the case of my comics, it's talking about something else for a number of pages and panels and getting people in agreeance with something that I'm presenting, and then midway through the piece, then introducing an idea that may have been controversial if I was to raise it at the beginning of the topic, but then sort of letting people see how it feels to try this idea on and possibly think about applying to their lives. So it's the approach that I call going through the side door, rather than coming at someone at the front door, and immediately talking about what it is about their ways that you would like them to change. It's more about you know... it's like being a good neighbor, becoming friendly with someone, and then maybe raising an idea with them a bit further down the track, and they may agree with you or disagree with you, but at least you've found some common ground and there's a better chance of that person to listen to you. Rob Dietz Yeah, I really appreciate that -- that idea of coming in the side door. You know, I'm familiar with a lot of your topics. I think we've been in the same topic space for a number of years, but it's still refreshing -- even someone steeped in the knowledge -- to read your comics, because it isn't, like I said, preachy, and it is coming around that side door, and it's a far more palatable way to take in the information than like you said, somebody coming in, "Hey, hey, I know everything. Now, let me tell you how to think and believe." Stuart McMillen Yeah. And so when it comes to like, for example, my racism comments, if I was to go out there and say, "You should not be racist." And then immediately castigating someone for having these views -- that feels like a very othering way of having that discussion compared to, "Hey, guess what, here's the way I used to think, and here's the way that I have evolved my thoughts to reflect and to be a better person." And similarly with my comments about fossil fuels, as you've identified the way that I've written those, it's not berating anyone who drives a car, or who takes plane trips. Because I do those things myself. I'm taking advantage of many of the infrastructures and resources that we have at the moment, but I'm, after sharing with people that I'm familiar with these topics, and that I'm a user of energy like everyone else, I'm just when I'm in the passenger seat with this person, as we're driving down the road together, I'm sort of turning to them. And I'm saying, "Well, how long do you think this will be able to last, given this evidence that we've got here?" And then you start to get into other ways of thinking about well, if we've got only a certain amount more of this resource left, should we be... I guess the example that I have in the comic is the Las Vegas scenario -- should we be focusing on these glittering fun emporiums? Or should we be thinking a little more carefully about some of the more lasting ways that we could be investing this energy into the future to ensure that things continue on a lasting level? Rob Dietz You're far nicer about it than we are here in Crazy Town. I think in one of our episodes we talked about: you should be able to lay down a bet in Las Vegas on what year Las Vegas becomes a ghost town. But yeah, you're posing questions in ways that get people thinking. Speaking of coming in the side door I mean, these are these are really weighty topics. I mean, most comics, you know, they're about a fat cat that lies around and eats lasagna or you know... Your comics -- I mean, maybe that's not fair. There are a lot of amazing graphic novels out there and other kinds of things in the medium that present important ideas and big controversial topics, but I think you're you're kind of in rare company there. And I do wonder if it ever gets weighty for you, and you're like, "Well, maybe I'll do a fat cat comic." Or do you ever think about just going off and doing something lighter? I have seen, I guess I should say, I've seen your your bird artwork, which I think is really amazing. And I really appreciate that maybe that's one of those things that's a little lighter for you. Stuart McMillen Yeah, that's probably my main example of lighter material that I've done, which was because I had been known for doing these narrative comics over the course of 10 years, where it's very much me deciding on some idea that I want to impart onto the readers and the narrative way that I get this information out there. And yeah, they tend to be big projects that might go on for six months, nine months, 12 months. But one thing that I did last year in 2022 -- I thought to myself, "Well, I don't know if I'm quite ready to begin working on some of these meaty topics yet, so could I just do something fun artistically?" And so I just started drawing the birds of Canberra, the city that I live in, in front of some of the... I live in a city that's got a lot of very notable landmarks, in terms of public art or notable buildings in town. So I've just been doing the scenes that pair some of the birds of Canberra with some of the interesting locations of Canberra just purely as an art for art's sake project. But then I also thought, "Oh, am I using my life's work in a way... You know, are these Canberra bird scenes going to stand the test of time and resonate with someone as energy slaves resonated with this person? Maybe not." So it's finding a way to balance the fun artistic projects that helped me to blow off a bit of steam versus the longer-term projects like "The Town without Television" that I'm working on at the moment that probably will have a lasting impression on people? Rob Dietz Well, it's not my place to disagree with you, maybe, but I think the bird project could have a lasting effect as well. I mean, again, making connections. I think that's a pretty cool juxtaposition -- having a wild animal in front of some cultural piece of the city. I think if you think about where you live, it'd be neat to have the birds of your native ecoregion in front of other parts of the landscape that you know. It has a conservation feel to it. But yeah, it could end up being, just as resonant. And I certainly know, my cohost, Jason Bradford -- he's become pretty obsessed with birding here in the last year or so. And I'm pretty sure he would resonate with it. Stuart McMillen I'm not a binocular-wearing bird watcher, by any sense. But just ever since beginning the project of the Canberra birds, I've learned more about how each of these species does their nesting and just what their seasonal habits are. And I think it is, in a certain way, just grounding me in the place that I live in, and hopefully making me want to fight a little harder for protecting the places that I walked through every day. So it's a nice thing to do, I think. Rob Dietz Yeah, and very mindful as well. I like that. I want to get a couple of quick-hit sort of things to maybe conclude our conversation around how the hell you do this, because I don't know anybody else that draws and writes comics for a living and makes a go of it. I mean, I know, it's certainly reliant on the talent that you have, but also, I'm sure years and years of practice and throwing a lot of things out and trying stuff. How did you get your start in drawing comics. Stuart McMillen I mean, depending how far back you want to turn the clock, I had my own little cartoon strip when I was 11 years old at primary school, which I was just doing on the weekends. It was, as you say, it was a "Garfield" style humor strip that lasted for maybe three or four years. And then I reached my teenage years and sort of became too cool to be doing any sort of artistic project like that. I just, I stopped any sort of personal creativity and then just became a passive consumer of TV shows and movies and video games, and I was still reading other people's comics, but I, unfortunately -- and I've heard other people say this -- that they reached a certain age where it just doesn't seem to be a becoming theme to to create your own stuff anymore. But then yeah, in more recent years, I did a whole university degree and I was working a day job doing something very unrelated to this, and I was around about, let's say, 22, 23, something like that. And I was just working a day job and thought, "Well, I need something. I'd like an artistic project on the weekend to give me some sort of an outlet." And I just picked up a pen and started drawing, once again, a humor strip, which really wasn't great. But it just began the process of drawing something and then reflecting on it later, and then seeing if I could make the next one a little bit better than that. And then, as time went by, I moved from trying to be funny to trying to have social commentary and making serious points about things. It was just this thing of having a four- or-five year period of work that really wasn't any good at all, but just try to make each one a little bit better than the last one. And I found myself doing this as a weekend and evenings hobby, and then reached a point of my life where I wanted to go on an overseas holiday. And my employer wasn't willing to hold onto my job for me, because I was going to be gone for too long that they just couldn't afford to keep the role unfilled. So I went overseas, had a two month holiday, and then came back to Australia and started talking to some friends, getting ideas for other jobs that I could apply for. And I just remember having this particularly inspirational fork-in-the-road conversation with a friend who just said, "Well, I know that you're doing the cartooning -- why don't you just try and not get a job, and then just try and see what will happen if you do this as your main thing?" And it was very interesting to see the way that the world treats you differently. If you say that you are something as a full-time thing compared to a weekend hobbyist -- some of the little financial opportunities that come to you, whether it's a commission coming your way. One thing: I'm lucky to be living in Australia that does have a greater degree of social investment in these kinds of things than that in the United States, from what I'm aware of. So I was able to take advantage of a scheme that's available over here for small business owners to have the first 12 months of their small business career with a basic income funding for the first 12 months to just purely allow you to live a meager existence and pay your bills and just have any money that you earn on top of that add to your bank balance without subtracting from the benefits that you get. And similarly, like we've got a reasonable amount of arts grant budget over here, so I wouldn't get an arts grant every single year, but just every other year, there'd be some amount of money that I'd be able to apply for from a various government arts body. And it all just sort of goes into the metaphorical petrol tank of the artist in terms of just income coming in to allow me to work on a on a project that I see worthy. And I think it was very much using that income for projects that I deemed to be valuable to society as a... it was almost like I was taking this gift from the Australian government or from the arts department, and just turning it into a unique piece of social commentary that hopefully would resonate with other people. And as the years have gone by, I've added crowdfunding campaigns to the mix as well. So people who -- they might be working a job where they're getting paid a reasonable amount of money -- and they like the idea that I'm out there every day in the art studio, drawing another page of comics that they'll be able to read. I've got almost 200 people supporting me on a monthly basis at the moment. It's a privilege to have all these names. I see their name and see their part of the world that they live in and just feel very privileged that they're investing some of their income in me, so that I can do this work as I see fit on their behalf. Rob Dietz Yeah, it's nice to have sort of a relationship as well or series of relationships behind what you do., And I will say I am very glad that Australia has some nurturing resources, that you were able to pull away from the regular job and embark on this adventure as a cartoonist, because it really is important work. And like I said, for me it resonates, and as you've reported, others have found these comics to get them thinking. So I want to encourage everybody: go over there -- energy slaves.com. Look at whatever of these topics floats your boat, and share them with with your family and friends as well. They're really good conversation starters. Thanks so much, Stuart, for agreeing to hang out with me a little bit, and best of luck in all of your future work. Stuart McMillen Thanks, Rob. I'm very excited. Yeah, this conversation has inspired me to keep on doing it. So thanks for having me on the podcast. Rob Dietz Anytime! All right, thanks Stuart! Melody Allison Thanks for joining us in Crazy Town. Don't forget to share the show with your friends. This is a program of Post Carbon Institute. Learn more at postcarbon.org.