I began the drawing in a bar that was actually playing AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Motorhead. I had drawn Lemmy from Motorhead a few months ago as a warm up at a coffee shop in SoHo before seeing a gallery show at Arcadia Galley. “The Ace of Spades” came on the jute box (are they still called that?) Maybe my hearing is bad and I just always heard the wrong word. Inspired by the energy in the song I began doing a doodle. At first I was thinking “rock pose” kind of a cliche’ Axel Rose from Guns and Roses mixed with Metallica. This was my era of music influence in the mid to late 80’s. I ended up picturing Lemmy though, so the hat and iron cross got in there. I think the long hair was/is a standard. I didn’t use any reference except whatever was floating around in my head.
Got the call at 12 noon-ish on Friday. Turned in the final at 7pm the same day.
What a turbulent time we live in. When I made this illustration, the details were still coming out. At that time the story was, cop shoots unarmed teen. The police department’s response was just one insulting thing after another which infuriated the residents and there was a peaceful march. I think for the purpose was to vent their rage.
Every march I’ve seen whether live or on video, it seems imbalanced. I saw Occupy Wall Street on it’s second day. I thought it’d be over within a week or so. They looked like a bunch of kids on a field trip to NYC that couldn’t get a room in a hotel. The protest was really waning and almost over after two weeks. Then on one of their little marches up to Union Square a white shirt police officer pepper sprayed some young girls who were already pinned up, or “kettled” against a wall with officers containing them with plastic orange fencing. The video showed them just yelling, not trying to resist. I never would have seen the footage if they hadn’t been pepper sprayed. Occupy doubled it’s size each week after that becoming a national story. Two years after Occupy was “cleaned out”, the banks, the Stock Exchange, the NYPD etc. are just relaxing their security presence in the area.
Within a month after the pepper spray the NYPD had pulled out all it’s toys. Surveillance cameras on mobile cherry pickers, cop cars parked everywhere, officers surrounding the parameters of Zuccotti Park. And it kept going with sound cannons, and what looked like armored cars, and helicopters. About 3am or so every night the fire dept or sometimes the cops would pass the park and hit the sirens so the protesters couldn’t sleep. This is just what I observed.
A really interesting thing that happened after the first clash in Ferguson was the powers that be sent a black officer, unarmed, to face the crowd with all their military looking police equipment pulled back. By the end of the day everyone was BBQing. No violence.
I’m no expert on the Constitution, but I do remember something about freedom of assembly. The people still needed to vent again. Instead of letting them, the police showed up again with their guns drawn and tear gas, and of course violence came out again.
I could elaborate for a while but I think the point is there. I put it on the police for escalating things. They need to learn some different responses to crowds. I can only conclude they like things to get out of hand because as a group they are a bunch of violent prone people carrying guns and this will happen again.
I’s always an adventure for me to go through older work and remember my thought processes at the time of making an image. Over all the faces are fairly consistent. The older some of them get the less familiar I am with the me that made it, but it’s usually familiar.
Very busy this summer! I’ve been working on a second book for National Geographic for Kids. In addition, I’ve been creating 13 new paintings for a gallery show at Last Rites Gallery here in NYC. Tricky thing those gallery shows. It isn’t just about creating them, then you have to photograph the large ones (in this case all of them) and then you have to get them all framed some how. With an illustration all I need to do is get it done, scan, and send. This framing thing is a full time job!
This illustration subject was about the Ebola virus hitting America and all the hype or just being safe. This is suppose to represent “average” America. I had to design a bio hazzard suit for a dog. The jokes that went around in the cover meeting were great!
The editors at The Week thought flipping the image would fit the format of the cover better so the gun barrel wouldn’t interfere with the type. Also it was important for to them that the flags all read correctly. My original drawing was already down and the first layer of paint already going when they decided they wanted the changes so I only changed the flags to read correctly when I would eventually flip the image on the computer. Also my signature is digital in the final.
This was a challenge. I sent in a few sketches to the art director, David. He showed it to whoever he has to run things by.
I liked this idea but I knew it just wasn’t resolved enough to be clear. It was so close! (for me) but David came back properly inspired as I’d hoped the sketch would at least do. Simple, just do what one of the most significant figures in art history did… That’s all. Salvador Dali had made an image of a grid of spheres in perspective that each had a portion of a woman’s face on them. Very complicated. They didn’t want spheres thankfully. They wanted cubes.
A friend of mine, CJ Henderson, died of lymphoma last night. I think the last 5 to ten years he had been in pain from just normal getting older. He had been in a lot of pain from the last year of battling. So at least there is that. He had a wonderful loving wife and daughter. And of course extended family. I didn’t see him very often the past few years.
I’ve known CJ since I met him in the lobby at DC comics just after having the worst 7 or 8 months of my short comic book career. (all my books got cancelled within two months of each other) I was looking for work, CJ was looking for work. He’d been writing comics for years by this moment. We sat down across from each other on the couches in the waiting room and awkwardly smiled as we acknowledged each other’s existence. I wasn’t in a social mood having no income to speak of for the previous few months.
CJ spoke first with the obvious question, “So… What do you do?” We exchanged resume’s and next thing I knew I was showing him my portfolio. He spent way more time sifting through my work and talking to me than the insulting arrogant bastich editor I was to eventually see would.
I think CJ called me later that night or the next day and said “Hey! Remember me from the DC lobby?…” The next day I was eating dinner at his house and he gave me a dramatic reading of the script we would eventually do for Big Entertainment. Lady Justice was the title. I think I did some of my best work on this one penciling and inking. My career was saved. CJ showed up when I was on my last leg. And that leg had a Charlie Horse, and even that horse was pulling up lame.
I’m going to miss my friend.