So what does a person, who hasn’t swung a golf club since he was nineteen, (I’ll be turning 56 on February 19th), do with that, no pun intended, handicap? Why, he illustrates one of the most popular columns about the game of golf for GOLF magazine- “Sidespin” by David Feherty for something like 14 years and counting. And what does that same, uncoordinated, idiot, who sucked, really sucked, at every imaginable sport growing up, do to further compound the absurdity of life? Why, of course, he illustrates the sports column for MEN’S JOURNAL, written by Matt Taibbi.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Matt also writes many of the brilliant and lacerating ‘National Affairs’ columns for ROLLING STONE magazine, and I’ve had the pleasure of creating images for a healthy percentage of those as well. As merciless as Matt has been on corrupt and stupid members of the political and business ‘elite’ for ROLLING STONE, he’s been even more savagely funny with the gods and demigods of sports, all sports, taking them down quite a few notches, showing many of them to be the hyper-inflated narcissists and goofs that regular sports media journalism only acknowledges when fate has finally taken a turn for the worse for the fallen god. Frankly, considering some of the opinions Matt has expressed about certain sports icons, I am amazed he doesn’t walk around with armed security like a provincial governor in Iraq. More remarkable is that he played baseball in Uzbekistan (WTF?) for their national team and basketball in the Mongolian Basketball League where, as the leading rebounder he earned the nickname the “Mongolian Rodman” (WTF 2x?). He did all this while dodging the KGB writing columns for an expat publication in Russia, “the eXile”. Anyway, he writes about sports as an insider, not as a geek, a la George Will, with a locker room bawdiness that goes for the jugular funny. He also shares a similarity with David Feherty, which I, as an illustrator greatly appreciate, in that he seriously knows the details and nuances of the games and the players while not taking them seriously, thereby doing the craft of writing sports columns a great service by making each one enjoyable through humor. Matt’s deflating observations and opining allows the reader to understand that it’s only sports and not the end of the world. His writing style is very visual, normally a plus for an illustrator, oftentimes so visual that it creates a real challenge to actually arrive at something to put down on paper that matches the level of slapstick commentary he’s established in the writing. But that’s okay. That just means the assignment is never boring.
Art direction from the start of this gig has been coming from the very relaxed Damian Wilkinson.