Robert Neubecker
July 2011
Debt Ceiling
These are debt ceiling images- the flag is for a Cornell Magazine piece on "Starving the Beast" debunking the idea that government is of no value and what might happen to society if it were abolished...  The second is for about, well...
 There was a taboo ever since the early 80's about using dollar signs and anthropomorphization in editorial illustration that originated at the New York Times, I believe- probably Heller- because it was done to death.(I helped.) Then Cristoph Niemann came along and having not been privy to this ban, made the world safe again for dollar signs and walking inanimate objects!

I owe a huge debt to Tomi Ungerer...I always find it astonishing that art students don't know these guys... but then again, they hardly know their top contemporaries...I used to lug fifty pounds of books, SI, AI, Glaser, etc. into every class and spend the first hour just going through them...

Sketches for "Starve the Beast" These were largely for fun- Sketch A was the clear winner from the start. For the $ image, I don't do sketches, the deadline's too short on an online Newsmagazine.

Pushing the Deadline
This started as a fairly routine same day rush job from Joel Cadman at The Wall Street Journal. I had about four hours to do it. The piece was about a guy whose wife started a cafe and suddenly all the food in the house got re- assigned, as it were. He longed for some food of his own again... the editors were thinking along the lines of a fridge, staking out space within , etc. I usually do a sketch or two along the lines of the suggested theme and then take off from there. Due to the short deadline however, I just fooled around with refrigerators..
This was the final piece that we scrapped a half hour from press time because of a horrible incident with a missing kid in Brooklyn who turned up, as we were going to press, in a refrigerator. I didn't have time to ask for details, of what happened to the kid. I just ran with it. I asked for an hour, Joel didn't have an hour, so I said, "give me twenty minutes."

We had to lose the fridge completely. The most logical solution was to put the guy in a closet- I could salvage most of the drawing and not try to do something new. He lost his hair with his hat. Twenty minutes is short...I've been drawing within the lines more lately, and keeping things a bit tighter, but threw that out the window. I used my Wacom more for some of the new line than I normally do, and for the most part, it seems to work. It's starting to take on a 60's, marker comp feel that I like. I lost the floor, that layer didn't fit and with only seconds left, I just trashed it in favor of a clean white background. All this time I was hoping that the kid just found a discarded fridge and got trapped inside, awful as that is. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Here are the sketches...
I was thinking- Thurber, or 60's New Yorker cartoon with this one...
Not there yet...

After the dust settled, I googled the incident and my worst fears were confirmed. I'm old enough to remember when Etan Patz disappeared off of a Soho street and still think about him when I'm out in public with my kids... My heart goes out to the family and the community.
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