Dan Lacey's bizarre pancake paintings land him fame beyond Gawker

Cartoonist's flapjack-topped noggins target everyone from McCain to Franken to Harry Potter

This afternoon has him alternating between two works, a child Obama in a St. Patrick's Day outfit riding a baby unicorn and a riff on the famous Praying Hands by Albrecht Durer with two praying feet.

"I like to work on several different projects at once," he says, dipping his brush into a plastic pastry to-go box used as his palette.

As Lacey paints, he talks about his evolution. He conceived of Faithmouse in 1998, after pledging to live a Christ-centered life rather than commit suicide. But he found work dealing cards at Mystic Lake Casino, not exactly his Christian dream job. To cope, he'd doodle in the soft felt of blackjack tables. The doodles turned to sketches, and the sketches into a rough, three-panel comic strip. Lacey says it took years—and plenty of rough work—for the strip to mature. But soon enough, the walls in one room of his apartment were covered floor-to-ceiling with Faithmouse strips.

If he has one regret, it's that he could never make a living drawing Faithmouse. The cartoon put him in debt. He poured every waking hour and financial resource he had into keeping the pro-life cartoon alive. When Lacey was really desperate, he sent out a plea to fans on his blog: "I'm a believer in faithmouse; I hope that you, as a fellow believer, will consider helping to keep this cartoon alive. Free Republic regularly holds freeper drives for larger amounts of money a few times a year and is successful at raising those funds, so perhaps this will work for faithmouse as well."

The money didn't come. While online Christian sites hailed some of his work, and conservative blogs hosted his strips, not a single publication was willing to pay money for it. And when he drew a strip with one of his characters slamming a Bible over the top of W's head, many conservatives disowned him. "I also moved away from evangelical Christianity to Catholicism," he says. "I realized Jesus always encouraged us to be honest. I wasn't being honest with my evangelism. It also impacted my wife, so I kinda moved away from it for her as well."

At the end of 2007, Lacey suspended work on Faithmouse. He took up freelance work painting serious portraits of the Pope and other religious iconography. Six months later, he painted Obama riding a unicorn.

Avidor's attack on Lacey commenced in full on the DemocraticUnderground online forum. That's where Avidor began to post Lacey's past work, baiting him into a fight: "Does the Family Research Council approve of your nude paintings and your gay pancake porn?" wrote Avidor. "Nothing wrong with smut, Lacey.... It's the hypocrisy."

Lacey was easily drawn into the fray. "Really, if anyone cares, I became disillusioned and stopped drawing Faithmouse as a pro-conservative, evangelical cartoon years ago," he posted in reply. "Everything he's posted here for people to get ANGRY AT is a few years old. My fall from grace is well recorded in my fan forums, which are all linked on my blog. Conservatives pretty much hate me now."

Avidor swung back: "Please describe your 'fall from grace.' Answer these questions, Lacey: Are you still opposed to a woman's right to choose? Are you still a theocrat? Are you still a right-wing Republican? Are you still opposed to same-sex marriage? Do you still admire George Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Alan Keyes? Do you still support the M.O.B.'s right-wing crap? Do you still hate the ACLU that protects your right to create and sell your explicit sexual artwork (porn)? Do you think you should make money exploiting the political movements you stridently opposed? That's the tune, so.... Dance, you right-wing theocratic monkey...DANCE!!!"

Lacey refused to dance. He merely repeated his stance and offered a calm retort that he was disillusioned and no longer partisan. He also included a link to a nude self-portrait as cheeky proof.

But Avidor continued to fire back posts with evidence of Lacey's past work. He challenged Lacey to answer for paintings Avidor felt were anti-ACLU, and anti-gay porn.

"I'm not a monkey for any one side, like you continue to be," Lacey responded. "You imagine my cartoon matched right-wing ideology completely, but it never did. I guess you missed my cartoon of Faithmouse beating George Bush over the head with a Bible, or of Andrea Merkel going at George with a strap-on, or of Taint being John Hagee's whore. In my humble opinion, this misunderstanding on your part is a result of your being a militant, one-note dumbshit."

With that, Lacey bowed out of the fight. But Avidor kept the punches coming, continuing to call Lacey a right-wing, theocratic, Republican bigot. Others joined in and Avidor had Lacey banned from the website; it's a place for "progressives only."

Back inside his basement, Lacey takes a sip of coffee and continues work on his baby Obama painting. He says he might abandon the project, though he isn't certain about it. He paints to make money, saying he's long past having any artistic pretentions. But as he concentrates on the painting, a color shade doesn't look right, so he corrects it, painting over a half-hour's worth of work. "That's better," he says.

Several weeks later, Gawker features another pancake masterpiece: The Crucifixion of Octomom. It features buttery pancakes spilling from the subject's oversized womb as Madonna and Angelina look on with smiles, ready to gobble them up.

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