Archive for August, 2009

Sunday Op-Ed: The C.I.A. in Double Jeopardy

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Sunday’s Op-Ed doesn’t have many kind things to say about AG Eric Holder’s re-opening of dozens of cases regarding detainee abuse at Guantanamo Bay by C.I.A. employees. It’s not that the author, Joseph Finder, thinks that falsely imprisoned detainees, were that they were abused, don’t deserve justice. It’s more the reality that these cases were already exhaustively explored years ago by “hardheaded career prosecutors, unforgiving of CIA transgressions”. The re-opening of these cases is likened to political posturing and it is then suggested that using the substantial money and resources required to explore these cases one more time dilutes the efficacy of the C.I.A. while undermining a few essential principles of our government. In this situation, the more you look into something, the less you’re inclined to see.

For the final illustration, Kim Bost and I landed on the above image to drive home the suggestion of a futile, justice vs. justice scenario. The initial comps that I submitted went after the idea that looking at detainee abuse again (and for dubious reasons) will reveal less and less information about the thing that is being investigated. As such, there were many fallen soldiers for this piece, three of which are below.

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Backstory: A Heartfelt Violation

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This piece for Suffolk Alumni Magazine concerns a Boston parking clerk who searched high and low for a way to dismiss the fine for an out-of-towner’s parking ticket after the plaintiff wrote in to the clerk’s office to explain that, A: not only was she confused by the city’s parking regulations, but B: visiting Boston was on her ‘bucket list’ as she had been diagnosed with degenerative heart failure and had only a short time to live without a transplant. (The woman’s medical records had been enclosed to the clerk to verify her condition). The orange shreds of the heart shape are from a genuine honest-to-God parking ticket, but the fine print I actually had to design, print, rip up and reconstitute on my own.

With the clerk ultimately succeeding in dismissing this ailing woman’s ticket, death notwithstanding, the story had a relatively happy ending. It was a refreshing change of pace for me to work on something so optimistic-hearted as so much of my assignments usually deal with epic, looming global problems from which there is typically either no escape or no easy answer.

Curiously enough, it was a different story among a handful of my friends and co-workers, all of whom were collectively outraged and derided the prospect of this woman’s special treatment in light of her medical condition. Nearly every last person I described the scenario to sided with the ‘rules-are-rules’ bureaucracy of the typical traffic violations office. I mean, seriously? Can we not, as a society, make a one-time exception for a parking ticket in the case of exactly one dying woman? This doesn’t exactly bode well for expanding public support on health care reform.

So much for that happy ending.

Art direction by Kaajal Asher.

Week In Review: The Lobbying Web

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Obama’s as-yet-resolved proposal for the epic reform on our nation’s heath care system has spawned a bumpy side effect in Washington in the form of health and pharmaceutical lobbyists swarming the congressional hill that he pledged to keep them away from during his campaign last year. To complicate matters, the proposed bill is so multi-faceted that the lobbyists themselves can’t commit to a specific position without that position shape-shifting as the bill evolves. The illustration that accompanies the article didn’t require nearly as many somersaults as this bill ultimately will, but we didn’t arrive at it quite so simply either.

Alicia DeSantis, displaying the kind of patience typically reserved for higher powers such as Buddha, art directed me through no less than ten comps in under 24 hours before we arrived at the winner printed above. Typically, I submit anywhere between three and five proposals for any given assignment, but this one played out a little differently as even a rough draft of the article wasn’t available for us to read until a few hours before the deadline. The time between Alicia giving me the assignment the day before and landing on an approved sketch almost a full day later was spent feverishly generating comps in a manic attempt to capture the essence of Obama being overrun by lobbyists. The details in the final that call out the issue of health care directly didn’t work their way in until very late in the afternoon until we were able to read the near-complete piece and have our shared ‘eureka’ moment. That moment, for me, came down to the obvious-in-retrospect realization that if your subject is confusing and complex, it’s OK to follow suit with the picture. A sampling of the comps leading up to the finished piece are presented below in sequence:

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