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about Psychology Can’t Help

I’m not sure that Psychology Can’t Help even belongs in the “Stories” section of this Web site. Unlike my other tales, it seems to lack both a plot and ongoing characters; and I suspect the order of some of the pages could be changed without anyone being the wiser. However, if it’s not a story, then I don’t know what it is. A series of disjointed observations? A free-association of nasty slurs against neurotic artists and the shrinks who try to cure them? It can’t be pop psychology, because that stuff claims to help you, but like the title says, Psychology Can’t Help… can’t. Of course, it really makes no difference what genre this belongs to. I guess if Henry Miller’s books can be shelved with the “novels” and Shakespeare’s Richard III can be classified as a “history” play, then this thing can be called a story.


Psychology Can’t Help was originally published in print form in 1989 (first edition) and 1990 (second edition), during my long career as a print creative director. By 2001-2002, after additional years as a Web creative director, I decided to put some of my cartoon stories online.

I was tempted to substantially rewrite this story, since my psyche has grown up (and become much happier) since I first wrote it, but I decided that would be pointless. This version of Psychology Can’t Help remains, therefore, a kind of snapshot of an earlier state of my mind, with only a few, very minor writing changes. The visual appearance was another matter. For technical reasons, some of the original drawings didn’t scan well; also, I’ve become a better illustrator in the intervening years. I ended up using some of the original drawings, but redrawing others for this Web version which is, I believe, artistically superior to the original printed versions.


The reworked images in Psychology Can’t Help were created using a hybrid technique. First, I made a traditional pen & ink drawing. This was scanned into digital form. The drawing was then further developed in a computer painting program, using a wireless electronic “pen” and drawing tablet rather than a mouse. The composition was refined, additional elements introduced, and gray tones and shading added. At every stage of the process, these images were created with Web viewing in mind.

Press Reviews

Here’s some of the press response to the original printed version of Psychology Can’t Help:

Mini of the Month!  For the first time ever, a creator wins “Mini of the Month” two months in a row. I showed this pub around at a cartoonists’ meeting recently and everybody loved it! Very funny commentary on modern psychology with expressive cartooning. Dang good job San! I sense the birth of a new star in the small press network.

– Comics F/X Magazine

Quite clever. Dream interpretations, soul searching, expressive drawings, and even a bit of humor… Cross Woody Allen with Natalie d’Arbeloff, toss in a pinch of Jim Bricker and a dash of Frank Tashlin, and… you won’t have really come even close. Good try, though.

– Amazing Heroes Magazine
(referring to four stories by San)

Reader Response

Many readers sent notes in response to the original printed version of this story. You’re welcome to contact me about this Web version, or, for that matter, about anything else. And if I never hear from you… thank you for reading my stories.

Best wishes,