Business travel and life decisions kept me away from IW for the past couple of weeks. The next few posts will cover the illos that appeared during that time. We apologize for the inconvenience; service credits will be issued upon request.
In his decades of work for the op-ed page and other high-profile venues, Brad Holland has rarely produced an illustration without a dark cast to it, both visual and psychic. This smoky, mottled portrait of JPII—accompanying not just Prof. Pelikan's article, but a whole page of mullings on the Pope's life—is more benign than Holland usually gets, if not quite reverent. It eloquently alludes to the Pope's benevolent warrior aspect, the trait that seems to have made him so emotionally powerful and hard to assess.
Damn, looks like I snoozed and losed on this entry, since the full-sized illo is no longer available and there was never a permalink for the article (here's the abstract). Maybe because it was a regional-only piece? Anyway, I like indie comic artist David Heatley's carnivalesque imagining of a New York City Winter 2014 Olympics. It's clear here that Heatley digs folk art: he joyfully breaks free of scale and perspective and fills the canvas with a crazy quilt of decorative motifs. He makes a great, surprising choice for this subject.
Tipping a hat to baseball's season opener, Sunday's graphic was less an Op-Art than a trip to the Smithsonian of contemporary visual culture. Choi Hoon's baseball comics are brand new to me and it's hard to tell from these single-panel excerpts what his complete strips are like. Plus, while as a baseball ignoramus I was grateful for author B.R. Myers' explications of each panel, they're a weird way to read gag comics. Though my cluelessness leaves me humor-impaired, I can't help but admire Hoon's cartooning--the guy just draws funny. His gags draw on everything from a traditional Korean laborer's rig to the flying bike scene in E.T., all with a formidable economy of expression. So what's the latest American product whose makers should start worrying about globalization? I'd say it's Tank McNamara.
Op-Art regular Lauren Redniss represents the high-water mark in the op-ed's acceptance of narrative art: the comic as gestalt rather than sequence. Idiosyncratic while sticking tightly to her formula, Redniss creates poetic set pieces from the New York scenes she is sent to cover. For Friday's slice of life at the International Auto Show she takes a typically subjective view, making absurdist hay from the spectacle of hotrod dreams in a city where cars are mostly sources of irritation. None of her interviewees says anything especially pithy, her people are glancingly observed and her cars look like they were jacked from Rorschach blots, and yet the whole thing works. Redniss' handwritten text and loose drawing style belie her compositional skills, so that elements that bump awkwardly at first glance come to hang together once you finish reading and relax your eyes. It's kind of like the moment when you've been hanging out someplace way too long, your feet are tired, the crowds have worn you down and you're just about to go grab a taxi when you scan the room, take in one last impression, and that's the picture you retain of that day for the rest of your life.