If the Raindrops United: Drawings and Cartoons

If the Raindrops United: Drawings and Cartoons

by Judah Friedlander

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A book of hilarious and ingenious comic drawings from the popular 30 Rock star and "World Champion" comedian Judah Friedlander, hailed by Tina Fey as "one of the all-time great weirdos."

Most Americans know Judah Friedlander from his role as Frank Rossitano on 30 Rock and from appearances in films like American Splendor and The Wrestler. But long before he became a film and TV star and stand-up comic Friedlander drew stuff.
Now, in this quirky, hilarious, and surprisingly profound collection of drawings, Friedlander shows a new side to his "terrifically entertaining" (New York Times) comedy. Whether imagining George Washington in Las Vegas, plastic surgery for imperfect triangles, and the Keystone Pipeline as a sex act, Friedlander's "Joodles" push boundaries as they explore the absurdities of American life, sex, and even history and human rights. If the Raindrops United is a milestone in the career of one of America's most inventive comedians.

Praise for If the Raindrops United:
"Judah has drawn a weird and funny book in the grand '70s tradition of B. Kliban! I think this book will probably fix the world."
--Tina Fey

"Some people meditate. Some people masturbate. But if you don't have the time or patience for either of those, I recommend reading If the Raindrops United to calm down, have a little laugh, or a big think."
--Susan Sarandon

"I've known Judah for many years and I still don't understand how his mind works, but it sure works. Seriously strange. Seriously funny. A National Treasure. Sadly, I need to get a restraining order against him."
--Paul Giamatti

"Judah thank you for writing a funny twisted book. It is such an easy read. Even dum dums like me can enjoy it!!! Buy this book."
--Dave Attell

"Judah's drawings are deceptively simple, yet they become more compelling with every page. His talent as an actor/writer/comedian is further conveyed in ANOTHER medium. He's a Quadruple Threat. He wears many hats. Literally."
--Janeane Garofalo

"Reading Judah Friedlander's new book is a lot like hanging out with Judah himself: occasionally baffling, frequently thought-provoking, but, most of all, consistently hilarious!"
--Mick Foley

"To compare Judah Friedlander to a great cartoonist like Jim Davis would be a compliment to Jim Davis."
--Wyatt Cenac

"Another hit from The World Champ tackling the signs and symbols you frequently question while dropping hot lava in your American Standard VorMax."
--Eddie Huang

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316306966
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 10/20/2015
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 39 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Judah Friedlander won international acclaim for his portrayal of Toby Radloff in the award-winning movie American Splendor. He was a series regular on the Emmy Award-winning 30 Rock for seven seasons (SAG Award for Best Ensemble). He can be seen in a cameo in Sharknado 2. He is the author of the bestselling instructional karate book How To Beat Up Anybody, featuring his photography and art work. In 2015, he will release a stand-up comedy album and a stand-up comedy documentary concert film. He lives in New York City.

What People are Saying About This

Tina Fey

Judah has drawn a weird and funny book in the grand '70s tradition of B. Kliban! I think this book will probably fix the world. --Tina Fey


Barnes & Noble Review Interview with Judah Friedlander

Judah Friedlander is a man of many hats. Figuratively and literally: his colorful collection of homemade trucker headgear sporting phrases like "Double Cheese" and "Former Cyclops" made weekly cameos during his time portraying the affably odd comedy writer Frank Rossitano on NBC's revered series 30 Rock. But it's Friedlander's range and versatility that have long made him one of the funniest and most unique voices in stand-up comedy (a medium of which he is the self-professed and self-effacing "World Champion"), and a singular presence onscreen who has taken on daring roles in films like Wet Hot American Summer, The Wrestler, American Splendor, and Sharknado 2. (Keen-earned listeners may even catch his voice-over work within the lively barroom sequence of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.)

Between work on stage and screen (including two recent episodes of Sesame Street), Friedlander has approached two book projects with his trademark fervor: 2010's How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Guidebook by the World Champion, and 2015's If the Raindrops United, an uproariously clever and surprisingly poignant collection of comic drawings in the tradition of American oddities like Berkeley Breathed, Robert Leighton, and Vaughn Bode. (Among his chief influences, Friedlander cites cartoonist B. Kliban, who once drew a Buddhist monk daydreaming about measuring the shape and dimensions of Nothingness, right down to the millimeter.) Shortly before the publication of Raindrops, the author sat down to discuss why he finds doodling so relaxing, his elementary school fascination with Polish political activism, and what he considers the most vital virtue in any artistic career. What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation. — Nick Curley

The Barnes & Noble Review: A lot of single- panel cartoons that I see come from The New Yorker or the work of Gary Larson in The Far Side. Yours seem a bit different in that the humor is rooted in the visual of the artwork.

Judah Friedlander: I agree. In a lot of cartoons, the drawing could be anything, and it's only the caption where the joke is. In mine, the jokes are in the artwork.

BNR: What's your earliest memory of creating your own cartoons?

JF: I actually have one here that's in the introduction of the book. [Opens notebook] This is a drawing I did when I was ten years old. You can see that it's dated 10/2/79. There's this little guy. I go up to him, saying, "What are you doing?" He says, "Nothing." "What're you doing?" He says, "Nothing." Walks away. Another kid walks up. "Hey, nice statue."

BNR: That's quite good at any age, but especially for ten.

JF: [Opening to a new page] This is a political cartoon I did about Lech Walesa, who was a Polish human rights leader in the 1980s. The Russians imprisoned him.

BNR: I'd read that a lot of your cartoons back then were political in nature. Do you recall who you were satirizing back then?

JF: Back then it was a combination of what I was learning in school and what my dad was talking about at the dinner table. I definitely did an anti-Reagan policy drawing when I was eleven. I did all kinds of art when I was a kid. My mom had a potter's wheel, so I used to work in that. I used to do clay sculpture. My folks weren't big into TV. It was: "Create something, go make something, play outside."

BNR: Sound advice for how to get on TV: don't watch it.

JF: That's a good point, maybe! I don't know.

BNR: You previously published a book about martial arts.

JF: Called How to Beat Up Anybody. It was an instructional and inspirational karate book. It's a good book because it can only be used for justice. If someone evil got that book, the book would actually give them incorrect information and make them a worse fighter.

BNR: The book recognizes the reader's intent?

JF: Yeah, and it chooses it for you. That book chooses your destiny. This new book is more involved in human rights and planetary issues. I have drawings in here that deal with climate change, inequality, gentrification. Being the World Champion means being not only a champion of the world, but to the people who inhabit it. A hero for the common person.

BNR: Where did you draw the illustrations that comprise this book? What does your workspace look like? Is sketching something which you do anywhere and everywhere, or does it require a certain time or place?

JF: Because I've been drawing since I was a kid, I could say that this book initially did happen everywhere. As a comic, I always carry around little pieces of paper, and I'm always writing notes on them: jokes and other ideas. Doing stand-up can be at times a draining job. You're always working on new material, and constantly traveling. Two or three years ago, I started drawing again, to take a break from constantly working on stand-up. I started doodling, then posting some of the drawings on Twitter and Instagram. After a year and a half, I had made about sixty or so. Thematically, it started coming together. After I got the book deal, I began turning down acting and stand-up work to commit to the book full-time. From morning until late at night, fifteen hours a day, nonstop for a few months. It was a lot of work getting all the drawings technically ready for print and the book. I did all the lettering. I have such sloppy handwriting that I had to re-letter almost everything.

In some of these drawings, I might come up with the idea immediately. But to then actually finish the drawing can require hours or days or weeks, in order to get everything - the written joke and the visuals — all working together. Stand-up is a quicker process. You think of a joke, you go onstage that night, you tell it, and you're good to go. But even then, it takes weeks of telling the same joke nightly for it to build, grow, expand: from one small line to a whole big bit. Some of these drawings worked that way too. I might have posted it on Instagram eight months ago, then returned to the same drawing much later to make subtle tweaks.

BNR: When you're telling a joke onstage, there's a rhythm to be found, either from audience reaction or your own cadence, whereas in a drawing, the variance of interpretation comes from your audience.

JF: Yes. When you're working hours every day on them, you get so close to it, that after a while you have to show them to other people: to get a read. When I've edited short films before, you're looking at the same scene a hundred times over two days — after a while it has no impact on you. Every artist needs reactions.

BNR: Did you have comic writers or cartoonists who paved the way, or who you had in mind when you were making this?

JF: When I was a kid, my parents got a book that was called Never Eat Anything Bigger than Your Head. It was by this guy named B. Kliban. It contained really twisted drawings — funny, bizarre, out-there. Some are definitely for adults-only, not for kids; some could be for anybody. I was reading those when I was like five. That would be the biggest influence — his books.

BNR: Frankly, there are some folks in the entertainment industry who put out books as a side piece of sorts, to make what they perceive as easy money. In contrast, it seems like you're putting a ton of labor and foresight into this project.

JF: Yes. My last book was that way, too: I started writing it ten years before it was purchased by a publisher. I started on my own. Stand-up comedy is my home base. But I like filmmaking, radio . . . my last book was mostly photographs and jokes, as a satire on instructional manuals. I found making this book became something relaxing: an escape from the anxieties of work and travel.

When I was a kid, I was really big into the Surrealists. Basically, the Impressionists didn't make a big impression on me, but the Surrealists did. When I was in high school I learned about Magritte, Dalí . . . like, "Wow, this is the coolest." At that age, my view of the world was a Surrealist one. In the past few years, even my stand-up act has changed into something more political, more human. As have these drawings.

BNR: Is there a genre, or medium even, that you have not yet had the chance to try your hand at as an artist, but that you'd like to attempt?

JF: I've never created my own feature film. Also, even though I've been doing stand-up over twenty-five years, I haven't really put out a major stand-up album or stand-up comedy performance on film. I'm definitely going to be doing that next. That will be the next project after this book. Then I want to do some kind of stand-up movie that's different than other ones: a stand-up concert film mixed with a little bit of both fake and real documentary.

BNR: Whether in comedy or in visual art, is there a word of advice that you've received from a peer or colleague that still rattles around in your brain? Practical, philosophical: what have you learned that's been lingering on your mind of late?

JF: I always try to do work that's atypical. Sometimes I wish I would just do the quick thing: "Wow, yes, money, easy." I never do things that way. I always do it the hard way.

BNR: Even a film like American Splendor, particularly your role in it, seems to be about how certain talents by their own nature take challenging paths, and thus live freer, more genuine lives as a result.

JF: I'll just tell you a little story about that movie. In addition to being good, it was innovative. The directors did things in that movie that hadn't really been done before: using both real people, and actors playing those people, then creating some scenes where both versions meet in a mix of documentary and narrative. There's one moment, where me, Paul Giamatti, and the real-life people that we played, Harvey Pekar and Toby Radloff, are in the same scene together. Beforehand, we all thought: "This is a great idea." But when shooting it, me and Paul were both kind of scared shitless and thinking, "This will be a disaster." Because it's one thing to play someone, but to have the real thing right next to you, there's a lot of pressure to get it right. Yet, that scene, I think, might be the most important moment in the movie. It then becomes a story about creating art.

My point being: when you branch out into different areas, you're never going to be in your comfort zone. When you're doing things that are new, you're really challenging yourself. That is when you really start growing as an artist. Doing a book of drawings is fantastic for me, as it can later only benefit any other art that I work on. Even doing 30 Rock — getting to work with someone like Alec Baldwin, who is such a strong actor, and Tina Fey, who is not only a good actor but an amazing writer — all those experiences rub off on you, make you grow, and enrich future projects.

The reason I did this book is that sometimes you feel like you've just got to do something. People ask me, "How did you get into stand-up? Why did you get into stand-up?" It didn't feel like it was a choice. It felt like I had to do it, just to survive. This book feels like something I just had to do. It wasn't like I wanted to do it. I had to do it.

BNR: As a ten-year-old drawing Reagan, you wouldn't likely be able to say, "This is my statement, and I need to do this to survive." The instinct to create comes before the grasp of why you're doing it ever arrives.

JF: In the age we're in now, everything is weirdly instant. Little bits of entertainment come constantly throughout the day online. Twitter. Instagram. It was nice doing this book, just to get away from all that and focus on one thing: to actually build and create a big project.

It's a passion project, and it's been really cool meeting people who are making books, reading books, promoting books. That's exciting. It shows hope for the future, that there are so many people who still read. And if you don't like reading, my book is mostly drawings! Even if you're not a strong reader, you can get into this.

—January 7, 2016

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If the Raindrops United: Drawings and Cartoons 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wat about water clan or rainclan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dew~ <p> &nbsp Dew sighed as she tread wearily across the forest floor. Autumn leaves swished as they fell, and soon the ground became coated in a layer of orange leaves. They reminded her of when she and her brother played as kits in an early autumn morning. But now they were lost from eachother, because of those hateful tree-cutting twolegs. <p> &nbsp Suddenly, the smell of cats wafted through the air and to her nose. She lifted her head, feeling the breeze and which cats there were. *Clan cats?* she thought in wonder, remembering the tales she'd heard when she was a kit about those ferocious cats. They had leaders. <p> &nbsp Two shapes darted out from under the bushes. They both had mice and squirrels hanging helplessly kimp in their teeth, which they dropped as thy glared at her. One of them was a sleek, brown tom with a torn ear, whilst the other was about her age. Their fur bristled on their spine. Both were toms. She realized this, and crouched down, ears flattening. <br> "Which clan are you from?" The bigger tom asked. <br> "I don't live in a clan." She replied. <br> "So you're a loner." <br> "I suppose so." <br> The other cats let their fur fall back. <br> "Then we are safe. Leave and not return." The same tom instructed, his mew slightly hinting a growl. She nodded, and dashed away. <br> <br> <br> Lightningpaw~ <p> &nbsp They had been out for training, Lightningpaw and Thunderstrike. He ha just gotten a mouse, when they smelled another cat. That other cat didn't seem to bother him, but what confused him was how his mentor chased her off. <br> "Can't we keep her for our clan?" He asked. <br> "No." His mentor mewed. <br> "Why?" <br> "Our clan would mistake us for traitors if we brought in a traitor." <br> "How can you--" Lightningpaw didn't get to finish his sentence as Thunderstrike flicked his tail sharply in his direction and began to lead back to camp. <p> &nbsp Soon, they got back in camp. Thunderstrike had made him promise not to tell any cat of that adventure. He had. <p> &nbsp "Lightningpaw!! Over here!!" It was Cherrypaw. He bounded over to her, his eyes betraying the fact that he was thinking hard. Flamepaw was there aswell. <br> "What's wrong?" Cherrypaw mewed anxiously. <br> "Nothing." He mewed quickly. <br> "Then why are you acting strange?" <br> "Come on tell us!!" Flamepaw chimed in. <br> "I promised to StarClan that I won't tell..." <br> "Please?" <br> "Fine!!!" <p> &nbsp After telling them the whole story in a quiet whispering mew, Cherrypaw suggested they go search for the she-cat. The other two apprentices agreed, and so they slipped out of camp once the others had gone to sleep. Suddenly, it started to rain. But the apprentices continued, unaware of bright yellow eyes peering at them, unaware of a black cat following their trail. <br> <br> <br> ~{There's chapter one!! Please comment!! Thanks for reading that. Hope you liked. Can somebody suggest a good clan name? A good name of a clan? Thanks.}~ <p> ~Haunted &#8251 Spirit <mynookisbaditwontpost>
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It really showed an awareness of the human condition and had a political sensibility not offen found in abstract works. That's all complete nonsense from my English Minor. This book made me laugh and think. Loved it. Thank you for publishing it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont have this on my nook but it is a great book so funny so histarical you just cant put it down FIVE FIFTY FIVE HUNDEREND STARS FOREVER