My first blog post on this site was supposed to focus on the projects I'm currently working on—and I suppose we can get to that, still. But first: Ohio Representative John Boehner has just announced that he will resign from his job as Speaker of the House because of right-wing strife amid the republican representatives in Congress! That's nuts! Who could have predicted that?
Well, back in May, 2011, I made a cartoon that won both a national and a local publishing award for visually capturing the (actual) moment when—sometime earlier that year—Speaker Boehner realized he and the other mainstream republicans in Congress had created a monster they could not control. By helping to grow and empower the radical right-wing Tea Party faction (through tacit support of their "democrats are ruining America, Obama is a Muslim and immigrants are stealing our jobs" kind of ideas), Boehner, McCain and the rest of the centrist republicans in Congress sought to use the radicals as an effective way to mobilize working class, white Americans to the Republican cause. The radicals play off this group's fears, creating hysteria and reactionary thought through lies and misinformation about topics like healthcare, immigration, the war on terror, the war on drugs, women's rights and the economy.
After the 2008–9 recession (caused by bad Bush administration policies) sunk our economy, Boehner wasted no time in pandering to the Tea Party base by insisting that the president's plan—which would have worked better had republicans in the House passed its bill without gutting it—was a failure before it even had time to start working.
But Boehner and the other moderate republicans were all too right about the power Tea Party rhetoric has to incite. Tea Party politicians swept into office in 2010, riding a wave of fear and ignorance, and booting out many a democrat in the process. And we have (all of us, Boehner included) been dealing with the mutant iterations and progeny of that initial Tea-Party batch (the one shown in my cartoon) ever since. You know, like Donald Trump. Now, it seems, the monster has finally caught up to Mr. Boehner.
Sorry, John. You boldly went where no Boehner has gone before—and then you were tarred, feathered and run out of Washington D.C. by members of your own party. In honor of you, John, here are three (very) old cartoon strips I did centering around your insane criticisms of President Obama's 2009 Stimulus Package. (Note: I was going through a severe Perry Bible Fellowship phase at the time. Also, I'm not sure that I knew what John Boehner actually looked like when I made these. If you don't know the Candlejack reference—)
I love when things come full circle, especially when that means a cartoon I did four years ago is still relevant. But enough about John. What is Will working on this month, you ask? Too much, is the short answer. Besides the perpetual effort that is required to produce a 164 page, top-shelf magazine on a (mostly) quarterly basis, I'm also doing quite a bit of artwork in September.
I just completed a cover illustration for the third installment of David Goldberg's dystopian sci-fi novel HI/039, being serialized in issues of the aforementioned magazine. It's the second full-color splash illustration I've done since upgrading my digital art set-up to include a wacom cintiq 27QHD, and I love the results I can get on this machine. It feels pretty close to actual painting and the finished pieces can get very close in appearance, especially when I switch from Photoshop to Painter12, which can simulate the texture of brushed oil paint on canvass (and a variety of other media as well). Here are some progress shots of the HI/039 illustration.
At the same time, I'm trying to wrap up work on the art for Honolulu-based musician Brian von Ahsen's forthcoming album. It's a very complicated project that involves creating a series of 15 illustrations that must work separately, online in blog posts about each song, as well as together, when combined in a fold-out poster that is to be inserted inside copies of the album. The song are hilarious though, which means the illustrations are fun to do.
Lastly, I'm prepping for a new project. Hawaii Review, the University of Hawaii at Manoa's literary magazine, is producing a graphic novel version of The Legend of Koolau, a Hawaiian larger-than-life tale about a Kauai man and a Hawaiian patriot who contracted Hanson's disease and disobeyed the forced-relocation order to Kalaupapa. The magazine asked for applications for the position of illustrator and/or storyboard artist, requiring sample work in both categories, by September 30 (why am I writing this post instead of working on that?).
When the newly formed Hawaiian provisional government (after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy in 1893) ordered all lepers in Hawaii be rounded up and ghettoized on the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula on Molokai's remote northern coast, Koolau refused to cooperate. The government sent marshals and, eventually, a unit of soldiers to apprehend Koolau and his followers, but he retreated into Kalalau valley (which I just visited this summer) and the soldiers are ultimately unsuccessful. It's an interesting story (Gary Kubota turned it into a play, which I interviewed him about for INHNL magazine), and I think I have a good shot at getting the gig, so hopefully I'll have more on that in the near future.
All these squares make a circle.