Archive for March, 2011

Spidey’s Second Act


Art direction by Kelly Doe


At this point, it’s difficult to feel anything but pity for the creative forces behind the Spider-Man musical. My relative ambivalence towards Bono, U2 and musicals aside, wrangling a struggling creative endeavor with so many working parts, with so much money already spent, while under near constant public scrutiny looks like a  perfectly awful experience. Solving problems of any kind is an often ugly-looking, graceless process by virtue of the fact that failure is an essential component needed to help discover the thing that does actually, truly work. Having the privacy to indulge in those failures is just as essential if, unlike Bono, you’re an ordinary human being for whom concentration requires effort.

The Spider-Man musical has had no such luxury as of late. Since the poorly reviewed previews have begun, they’ve had the added task of doing public damage control to combat the already negative perceptions of their show which hasn’t yet properly opened. The latest maneuver of which was dismissing Julie Taymor, their original, hand-picked director, in order to publicly demonstrate that steps are being taken to refine and improve the show.

Writing for the NYT Week In Review this weekend, Patrick Healy links Taymor’s firing with other openly political gestures such as the firing of a campaign manager in mid-presidential campaign as both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton did during their failed presidential bids in 2004 and 2008. I worked with Kelly Doe on the illustration accompanying the article.




Unlike the beleaguered musical, I had the luxuries of working on this image in relative peace, in my home, in the dead of night without interruption or anyone tapping me on the shoulder to tell me what they thought of my preliminary sketches. This was key as the final image was arrived at after all kinds of failure photographing buttons at night without decent light and grasping blindly for visual cues for an article which, at that point, had not yet been fully written. Not only that, but it had to happen quickly, so I only had to live with the hovering specter of failure for about 24 hours. All of the other trials (and errors) are below.








Book Review: The Executive Unbound



“The Constitution…no longer corresponds to “reality.” Congress has assumed a secondary role to the executive, and the Supreme Court is “a marginal player.” In all “constitutional showdowns,”…the powers that make and judge law have to defer to the power that administers the law.”

Going by the review, the book’s principal conceit is that all three branches of government are equal—it’s just that the executive branch is more equal than the other two, and that may be OK. Harvey Mansfield, the reviewer, doesn’t argue the point, but he does argue the foundation of the thesis. The illustration was done post haste for the Book Review (which also boasted a gorgeous cover by Monika Aichele). Art direction by Nicholas Blechman.



Save 50/50


Kudos to Christopher Sergio and Catherine Casalino for distributing this petition to preserve the AIGA’s 50 Books/50 Covers competition, which was only recently, unceremoniously discontinued. Publishing is unarguably going through more than a few simultaneous growing pains right now, but sacrificing the inspired ideas and visual narratives that come out of designing books and book covers isn’t one of them. Signing it requires less than a minute.

UPDATE: Saved! That was quick. The petition scored over a thousand signatures in less than a week. Hot damn.