Maakies was a syndicated weekly comic strip by Tony Millionaire. It began publication in February 1994 in the New York Press. It ran in many American alternative newsweeklies including The Stranger, LA Weekly and Only. It also appeared in several international venues including the Italian comics magazine Linus and the Swedish comics magazine Rocky.
On December 14, 2016, Tony Millionaire announced that Maakies has ended. One of the reasons he stated for discontinuing the strip was that many of the weekly papers that carried the strip were no longer in business.
Maakies focuses on the darkly comic misadventures of Uncle Gabby (a "drunken Irish monkey") and Drinky Crow (a crow), two antiheroes with a propensity for drunkenness, violence, suicide, and venereal disease. According to Millionaire, "Maakies is me spilling my guts... Writing and drawing about all the things that make me want to jump in the river, laughing at the horror of being alive."
Maakies strips typically take place in an early 19th-century nautical setting. There is rarely any continuity between strips. The comic often includes visual references to historic works of art, especially to the popular graphic arts such as Japanese ukiyo-e, European engravings, and early American newspaper comics.
Like many early 20th century Sunday strips, each Maakies comic usually includes a second, smaller strip (known as a "topper") that runs along the bottom of the main strip. Tiny landscape drawings are interspersed between the panels of these strips. Also, a tugboat (referred to once as "the enigmatic Maakies tug") appears somewhere in the background of virtually every strip.
Meaning of the title
Millionaire has given differing accounts of the origin and meaning of the word "maakies." "Maak" is the name of a character in the strip, a ship's captain who apparently is Uncle Gabby's employer, and in one sense the strip seems to be named after him. Discussing the strip's development, Millionaire said "I fleshed them [the characters] out as best I could at the time, knowing that they'd grow over time. That's why I didn't call the strip Drinky Crow. I called it Maakies because I didn't know who would become the most important character as I went along."
However, on more than one occasion he has claimed that the true significance of the strip's name is a strict secret: "I can't release that information until a certain person dies... Because he or she would be extremely pissed off to even know that that name was being used."
Elsewhere he has attributed the origin of the word to his friend Spike Vrusho: "Some of the tugboats in New York harbor have a big M painted on the side of them and my friend Spike Vrusho used to say "MAAKIES!" in a high pitched screech every time he saw one."
Dr. Terrence Ross
Terrence Ross is a real-life friend of Tony Millionaire from Fort Greene who frequently appears as a character in Maakies. In the strip he is drawn as a mechanical lizard who wears a black cloak and hat and has the number '147' imprinted on his forehead; he claims this is his IQ. Sometimes he delivers a monologue or reads a poem of his own composition. Other times he introduces one of his sinister or bizarre trademarked inventions, such as a "safety harness" that ejects the wearer's spinal column from their body using a cherry bomb and M-80s. The book collection Premillennial Maakies is dedicated to "Terry Ross".
Numerous episodes of Maakies have been drawn (and possibly written) by cartoonists other than Millionaire. The most frequent "guest cartoonist" is Millionaire's nephew Curtis Sarkin, who drew the strip in a child's unsteady scrawl; his daughter and nieces have also made occasional contributions. One Maakies strip reprinted, in the original German, four panels of an illustrated poem by Wilhelm Busch dated 1867 and featuring the accidental demise of Hans Huckebein, an inebriated, Drinky Crow-like bird; in another, Millionaire illustrated a poem about the sea written by M Otis Beard, and dated it a century prior to the actual date on which the poem was penned. On another occasion, after Millionaire had drawn a comic featuring a stereotypical Native American character, Maakies ran a rebuttal strip by Tania Willard of the Secwepemc Nation lambasting Millionaire, his characters, and his editor.
A pair of Maakies strips are purportedly drawn by Drinky Crow and Uncle Gabby (who passed out in the middle of drawing his).
Other cartoonists who have drawn Maakies:
- Jim Campbell
- Rick Detorie
- Renée French
- Sam Henderson
- Michael Kupperman
- Carol Lay
- Eric Reynolds
- Johnny Ryan
- Jon Sarkin (Millionaire's brother-in-law)
- Christine Shields
- Maakies (2000)
- The House at Maakies Corner (2002)
- When We Were Very Maakies (2004)
- Der Struwwelmaakies (2005)
- Premillennial Maakies (2006) – a hardcover reprint of the contents of the first Maakies book.
- The Maakies with the Wrinkled Knees (2008)
- Drinky Crow's Maakies Treasury (2009) - contains the contents of The House at Maakies Corner, When We Were Very Maakies, and Der Struwwelmaakies.
- Little Maakies on the Prairie (2010)
- Green Eggs and Maakies (2013)
- Maakies: Drinky Crow Drinks Again (2016)
All the Maakies collections are published by Fantagraphics Books and designed by Chip Kidd. All but the first of the books are hardcover, printed in an unusual 12" x 5" format that preserves the dimensions of Millionaire's original drawings.
With the exception of the first collection and its hardcover reprint, the title of each of the Maakies books refers to a classic children's book – A. A. Milne's The House at Pooh Corner and When We Were Very Young, Heinrich Hoffman's Der Struwwelpeter, Johnny Gruelle's Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees, and Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House On The Prairie.
The characters of Uncle Gabby and Mr. Crow in Millionaire's Sock Monkey comics and books are loosely connected to their Maakies counterparts. They make occasional appearances in the weekly strip.
The tiny 4" x 4" hardcover book Mighty Mite The Ear Mite (2003, Fantagraphics Books) is based on recurring characters in Maakies.
Millionaire has occasionally drawn X-rated adaptations of his familiar Maakies characters (e.g. "Shtuppi Eisberg, the Libidinous Penguin" instead of Drinky Crow) for Screw, Legal Action Comics and other explicit venues.
Several short Maakies Flash animations were shown on Saturday Night Live in the late 1990s. Several more animations were produced but never broadcast. All of the Maakies Flash animations are included on the DVD collection God Hates Cartoons, published by Bright Red Rocket.
An animated television pilot for The Drinky Crow Show, based on the Maakies characters, premiered on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim on May 13, 2007. Dino Stamatopoulos provided the voice of the titular character, and They Might Be Giants performed the show's theme song. The show premiered on Adult Swim on November 23, 2008 and ran for one season containing ten episodes. It ended on January 25, 2009. The cancellation of the show was confirmed by a Maakies comic.
- LA Weekly – News – Give Me a Tall Ship and a Monkey to Steer Her By – Bill Smith – The Essential Online Resource for Los Angeles Archived May 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- Flak Magazine Interview Archived November 5, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
- Adventures Underground: Interview with Tony Millionaire on Billy Hazelnuts and The Drinky Crow on Adult Swim
- IGN Interview Archived December 10, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
- The Comic's Journal Interview Archived December 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
- Tony Millionaire
- "Drinky Crow May 13!" (Press release). The Beat. April 6, 2007. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2007.
- McGrath, Charles (May 13, 2007). "Guy Drinks. Bird Drinks. Guy Thrives. Bird Drinks". The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2010.