Stephen Kroninger
February 2008
"Rodolphe Töpffer & the Word/Image Problem" Symposium at Parsons
Rodolphe Töpffer & the Word/Image Problem Saturday, March 8, 2008 from 3:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. The Illustration Department, Parsons The New School for Design and Liberal Studies, The New School for Social Research host a symposium in celebration of the first English-language translation of the complete picture-story works of Rodolphe Töpffer by David Kunzle. Rodolphe Töpffer (1799-1846) draftsman, writer and educator from Geneva, is recognized as the inventor of the modern comic-strip or picture-story. Töpffer initially feared that the publication of these picture-stories would damage his reputation as an educator (the mixing of words and images was seen as a frivolous endeavor). The books were eventually published, translated, pirated, and widely distributed, thus triggering the European and American culture of the comic strip. In 1845, a pirated edition of Töpffer's Histoire de M. Vieux Bois was the first comic-strip book published in America. A hundred and sixty years later, the separation of word and image persists in the academy. The symposium examines the traditions of the picture-story, picture-recitations, concrete vs. mental images, the materiality of symbols, illustration, and nonverbal communication. Participants: Peter Blegvad, Anne-Marie Bouché, Noah Isenberg, Ben Katchor, David Kunzle, Victor H. Mair, Patricia Mainardi, James Miller, Aimée Brown Price and others. The New School Theresa Lang Community and Student Center Arnhold Hall 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor New York, NY Admission: Free; no tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come first-served Rodolphe Töpffer: The complete original manuscript version of his very first picture-story, drawn in 1827 under the title Histoire de Mr. Vieux Bois. Father of the Comic Strip: Rodolphe Topffer by David Kunzle
Nation Cruise for The New York Times (inside spread)
Loose sketch to give the editors an idea of what I'm thinking of.
Sketch for left side of spread.
Sketch for right side of spread.
The background is then worked out like a set design. All through this process I was sending updates to Rodrigo Honeywell to keep him abreast of the progress.
I sketched in new figures, identifying who'd they be and and where I thought they'd be placed. Rodrigo asked for two things in the spread, A magician and an iceberg.
Here's the magician.
sketch for left side of spread.
Left side of spread.
sketch for right side of spread.
Right side of spread. The "two guys drinking and talking" became a man and a woman.
The final as printed. (196 layers) "The Love Boat for Policy Wonks" Cover
Nation Cruise for The New York Times (cover)
 Last week I worked with Art Director Rodrigo Honeywell to create the cover and inside spread for the travel section of The New York Times. It depicts editors and contributors to the Nation magazine on a cruise. Here's the full story: THE LOVE BOAT FOR POLICY WONKS by Henry Alford
This is the original sketch.
I based Daniel Ellsberg's pose on a production still of Buster Keaton leaning out on a ship. At first, working from memory, I imagined him using Buster's famous scout pose as pictured above.
 It wasn't until I dug out the photo that I realized I'd remembered it incorrectly. This is the still I had in mind. It's from the set of "The Navigator." Buster the beautiful.
Updated sketch with Navigator pose.
This is the first completed image of the NATION revelers.
 This is the update after Rodrigo felt that the cruise needed a little more pizazz. PARTY PEOPLE! The fish were my idea and Rodrigo had his heart set on an iceberg. Both worked well together in the composition. The fish and the iceberg are in the author's text. I did the banjo player while listening to Flatt and Scruggs. I generally like to select music that sets a mood for each character I'm creating.
Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Richard Dreyfuss, Victor Navasky, Calvin Trillin, Daniel Ellsberg and Ralph Nader.
 Rodrigo did a Google search and discovered that Richard Dreyfus is a recovering alcoholic who lectures on the topic so obviously it became important to switch a couple of heads. This is the final as published. (194 layers) "The Love Boat for Policy Wonks" Inside Spread
Peter Bagge's "A Guy from Boston’s Guide to the Oscars"
And for those in a mood for more Bagge, here's "The Murray Wilson Show" from 2001. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
Joe Klein "In The Arena" for TIME
The most recent group of illustrations for Joe Klein's IN THE ARENA column for TIME. The opener was done with art director Cynthia Hoffman with whom I've had a fabulous working relationship with for many years. She's always been an incredibly receptive, perceptive and appreciative audience for my work. The headline for this this column was "Inspiration vs. Substance."
 The sketch for the first image. The shape of the piece was suggested by Cynthia (in grey). We had done the Billary piece that follows a week earlier and it was thought that there was a lot of white space hovering above the piece and that we could use it to better advantage.
"Billary." Also art directed by Cynthia Hoffman.
Billary sketch.
"Unity" sketch
"Unity" final.
 This was done with Tom Miller, another fantastic TIME art director. It was also done in record time. I think I had about an hour and a half, maybe two, from start to finish. Because the polls generally close late on Tuesday, Joe Klein sometimes has to write his column into the wee, wee hours. I got this one first thing Wednesday morning. The piece is always due early Wednesday afternoon. The concept here was simple enough, approved quickly and it was finished on time: McCain seemingly rising to the nomination with the sun but there's a dark cloud overhead.
 This is the latest. I was given one word, "Tailspin." Again art directed by Cynthia Hoffman.
City Symphony for Nickelodeon Noggin
Here’s an animation that I worked on a few months ago. The animation features Isaiah Washington, reading Sarah “Dixie” Feldman’s “City Symphony” to “Story Time” cartoon hosts Moose and Zee. Click Here To See CITY SYMPHONY
Style Frames.
It was produced by the wonderful Matthew Dunteman for Nickelodeon’s commercial-free channel for pre-schoolers, Noggin, in partnership with First Book (a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books.) .
I’ve worked with Matthew several times over the years and it’s always been a treat. The piece has yet to run due to Washington’s self-inflicted off-screen troubles. It may yet air — Matthew recently told me that Noggin will be hiring a different actor to narrate the piece.
What made this project particularly special for me was my great love for New York City. Like the person in the poem, I often pause to listen to the sounds of the City as music. I also spend a lot of time observing, sketching and collaging its people, residents and visitors. For me, NYC is still the magical place I dreamed of as a kid growing up in bucolic Orefield, Pennsylvania.
Matthew attended my recent talk at MoMA. There, I went into the elaborate hinging I’d done in photo-shop in order to give the animators endless possibilities. Specifically, I talked about the bicycle rider who was hinged to look as if he was peddling the bike. In the final you’ll see that he just coasts by. Matthew said during the lecture’s Q & A that next time they’ll have to include me more in the animation process.
UPDATE: CITY SYMPHONY was revoiced by MOOSE A. MOOSE and is currently airing on NOGGIN.

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