Mirror New Yorker: Spring Politics Collection

I admit it, I’m running behind on my assignment to create a faux New Yorker cover every week, but not as far behind as you might expect for I’ve been painting covers; I just haven’t been posting them. So here it’s a round up of three new covers which have something in common, a person lifting one arm (and politics).

Isaac Hernández. April 2015. Hillary. Oil pastel on paper. 9x12". ©2015 Isaac Hernández/IsaacHernandez.com

Isaac Hernández. April 2015. Hillary. Oil pastel on paper. 9×12″. ©2015 Isaac Hernández/IsaacHernandez.com

Hillary Clinton

When Barack Obama visited Santa Barbara for the 2008 campaign, I didn’t go see him. When Hillary came to UCSB, I was there with my press pass, camera in hand. I picked the loser. This drawing is losely based on a photograph I took of Clinton at UCSB, my favorite of the ones I took that evening because she’s instantly recognizable, even from the back.

Since then I haven’t had any chances to photograph Barack, although I did photograph his house in Chicago during that election year as part of El Mundo’s election coverage with the newspaper’s US Bureau Chief, Carlos Fresneda. Carlos and I rendez vous in Chicago and then followed Route 66 all the way to Santa Monica on a red Audi TT, courtesy of Audi, taking America’s electoral pulse. We even passed by one of John McCain’s ranches in Arizona. What a memorable trip.

I also photographed Michelle Obama for the inauguration of the Washington DC Farmers’ Market (also with Carlos). And I got to meet Joe Biden in 2012, sans camera; it was right after Mitt Romney stuck his foot in his mouth, or rather in the mouth of 47% of Americans, and the DNC didn’t want to take any risks with anybody filming Biden sticking his foot in his mouth.

Hillary has been back to California, raising 3 million dollars in one Hollywood evening, but I wasn’t invited to that one.

The real New Yorker cover that week was Bruce McCall’s “Life in the Cuba of Tomorrow”.

Isaac Hernández. April 2015. Ted Cruz of Liberty. Oil pastel on paper. 9x12". ©2015 Isaac Hernández/IsaacHernandez.com

Isaac Hernández. April 2015. Ted Cruz of Liberty. Oil pastel on paper. 9×12″. ©2015 Isaac Hernández/IsaacHernandez.com

Ted Cruz of Liberty

When Senator Cruz gave his Liberty speech to announce he was running for president, I immediately wanted to draw him dressed as the Statue of Liberty, holding Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham, the book he read for his fillibuster of Obamacare. For a reason I don’t remember, I didn’t draw the crown on Cruz. Nevertheless, this is not a finished cover, but a sketch that would evolve. I would have offered as an idea to Françoise Mouly, New Yorker’s art editor. If she had accepted it, I would have made a larger version in which Cruz would be wearing a Statue of Liberty crown like the ones you can buy in the streets of New York City and the book would be clearly distinguishable as Green Eggs and Ham.

I haven’t met Senator Cruz. but I think of him as a big teddy bear. I just want to hug him and tell him, “There, there, everything’s gonna be alright.” I like him on Facebook, and I’m glad he’s running for he will keep us very entertained. If he was to visit Santa Barbara, I would go see him.

The real New Yorker cover that week was Mark Ulriksen’s “Baseball Ballet”.

Isaac Hernández. May 2015. Justice? Oil pastel on paper. 9x12". ©2015 Isaac Hernández/IsaacHernandez.com

Isaac Hernández. May 2015. Justice? Oil pastel on paper. 9×12″. ©2015 Isaac Hernández/IsaacHernandez.com

Justice?

When I heard the Baltimore Police Department was investigating the death of  Freddie Grey while in their custody, I found the situation ironic. How can the police investigate themselves? And that’s what this week’s cover tries to illustrate. I was happy to see that New Yorker chose to run “Injustice: Baltimore, 2015” by Peter Mendelsund. The New Yorker had published too many idillic covers in a row, when there were plenty of events worthy of a cover.

In a perfect world, they would be completely unbiased and bad police officers would be punished for their wrongful actions. However, it seems to me police departments are like schools and Catholic churches: once you’re in, your actions will be defended to the end. In my opinion, it’s ironic the police department works really hard to screen bad people out of getting into the deparment, but they don’t do such a great job on kicking bad people out once they’re in. It seems like they think acknowledging failure is bad. Acknowledging failure is the best way to learn from your failures, heck, it’s the only way to learn from your failures.

Teachers’ unions fall pray to the same irony. Bad teachers are often defended by their unions because they feel it’s their job to defend every one of their members. But I think that if the teacher’s actions are not to the benefit of the children, unions ought not to defend the teacher. Teachers’ unions should ultimately defend the children, not the teachers.

Lastly, I can say the same for the Catholic Church or any other organization who has in the past protected bad people because they were inside their organization and thus they had to be protected. Don’t.

I say, kick out the bad cops/priests/teachers. It doesn’t make you look bad, it makes you look better.

Alas, it looks like Pope Francis is breaking that vicious cycle and finally going after abusers within the Church. And Baltimore’s District Attorney seems to be willing to find the truth behind the death of Grey. So maybe we’re in a perfect world.

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Painting Backdrops

I tend to jump at creative opportunities before considering them, for I’m a very reasonable and persuasive man and I can talk myself out of doing crazy stuff. Luckily, I’m also not a very good listener at times, so my reasonable self cannot always convince me to be… reasonable. I say luckily because if I had been reasonable, I would have never written my first play, and consequently the next three plays, which I also directed. And I wouldn’t have painted three enormous backdrops for The Mystery of Edwin Drood play at Santa Barbara High School. It was exhausting but fun, especially when I got to listen to the actors rehearse their songs next door to where I was painting.

Everything has come together very well. If you want to see this magnificent show, there are two more perfomances left, May 2nd at 7pm, May 3rd at 2pm. More information on sbhstheatre.com

I couldn’t have completed the three backdrops without the invaluable assistance of the students at the SBHS construction crew, including Endora Lazzar-Williams, Kieran Meaney, Amanda Weymouth and Leah Martin.

I put together a time lapse video set to the music of Drood, with the assistance of stage manager Beau Lettieri, who filmed the time lapse.

 

And here are the three 16’x30′ backdrops, in action.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The Solve-It-Yourself Musical. Directed by Otto Layman. Santa Barbara High School Theatre. April 30, 2015. Photo: © Isaac Hernández/IsaacHernandez.com

Cloisterham street. The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The Solve-It-Yourself Musical. Directed by Otto Layman. Santa Barbara High School Theatre. April 30, 2015. Photo: © Isaac Hernández

The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The Solve-It-Yourself Musical. Directed by Otto Layman. Santa Barbara High School Theatre. May 1, 2015. Photo: © Isaac Hernández/IsaacHernandez.com

Cloisterham Cathedral Cemetery. The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Directed by Otto Layman. Santa Barbara High School Theatre. May 1, 2015. Photo: © Isaac Hernández

The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The Solve-It-Yourself Musical. Directed by Otto Layman. Santa Barbara High School Theatre. May 1, 2015. Photo: © Isaac Hernández/IsaacHernandez.com

Cloisterham Conservatory. The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Directed by Otto Layman. Santa Barbara High School Theatre. May 1, 2015. Photo: © Isaac Hernández

And here’s a photo of the Stagecraft students, many of which gave their time and talent to paint the backdrops:

SBHS Stagecraft students. Santa Barbara High School Theatre. May 1, 2015. Photo: © Isaac Hernández/IsaacHernandez.com

SBHS Stagecraft students. Santa Barbara High School Theatre. May 1, 2015. Photo: © Isaac Hernández/IsaacHernandez.com

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The Assassination of Knowledge

Isaac Hernández. In Memory of Kenyan students (Abraham Lincoln's tears) April 5, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol (9×12″). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

Isaac Hernández. In Memorian. Abraham Lincoln cries over the assassination of Kenyan students April 5, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol (9×12″). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

This April 14th marks the 150th anniversary of the shooting of President Abraham Lincoln. On Good Friday, as the President was watching the play Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., actor John Wilkes Booth used a one-shot Deringer gun to assassin the man he despised. Booth had thought about killing Mr. Lincoln before, but hearing the President give a speech about giving U.S. citizenship to the freed slaves finally pushed him over the edge. “That means nigger citizenship,” Booth’s quoted as saying. “Now, by God, I’ll put him through. That is the last speech he will ever give.” Booth used his celebrity status to access the presidential balcony. Lincoln was shot on the back of his head as he was laughing to the performance; he would die the next morning.

A few days ago, on Holy Thursday, four terrorists claiming to belong to Al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked militant group based in Somalia, entered Garissa University College in the town of the same name in Kenya, and killed at least 145 students in cold blood, after having shot two security guards. All in the name of Ala. Once again, ignorance tries to exterminate knowledge, for it feels threatened by it.

After the killings in Paris last January 7th, I did a painting of the Eiffel Tower with the lights turned off in mourning. And Spanish artist Ana Juan created a beautiful illustration for The New Yorker cover: “Solidarité.”

I had been planning to do a cover in memory of Lincoln. But I couldn’t ignore the assassination of students, young people full of hope and ideals. But how to illustrate such a horrendous act? I tried turning the Kenyan flag into a blood bath, but that wouldn’t be fair to Kenyans. I thought about painting a lion crying. Then it occurred to me that the man who fought for the emancipation of the slaves (which incidentally led to an American president of Kenyan descent) would be crying over this massacre. So I combined both In Memoriam into one. Lincoln cries blood over a textbook. After I finished the drawing, I learned that President Lincoln had been shot on the rear left of his skull and the bullet came to a stop near his right eye, so the result is a bit creepy, but so is the killing of 147 people at a university just because they don’t believe in the same God you do.

P.S.: The New Yorker chose to go with much-needed humor for this week’s cover, with a beautiful illustration by Harry Bliss: “Balcony Scene”.

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Union Square in the Spring (Farmers’ Market)

Isaac Hernández. Union Square in the Spring (Farmers' Market). March 27-28, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol (19×24″). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

Isaac Hernández. Union Square in the Spring (Farmers’ Market). March 27-28, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol (19×24″). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

Nothing says New York to me more than the Farmers’ Market at Union Square, a stone throw away from Carlos Fresneda’s apartment. Every time I visited New York, he made his home mine. Spring has finally sprung, and flowers fill the stands of this imaginary vision of the Farmers’ Market, composed with the aid of photographs I took a few years back. Thank you, Carlos. This is for you.

I considered painting an Easter image for this week’s faux New Yorker cover, but I couldn’t think of a painting of Easter I’d like hanging on my wall, and most everything I paint is something I would hang in my own house. Even Françoise Mouly says that a good New Yorker cover “has to function as a cartoon, but also like a poster,” (In Love with Art, pg. 104). So I made a poster that brings me sweet happy feelings.

In contrast, the real New Yorker had a great illustration of children going to a birthday party as they’re greeted by a huge night club-style bouncer, Carter Goodrich’s “Everybody Who’s Anybody.” I love Goodrich’s art, and I’m pretty sure you do too, even if you don’t know it; he’s done character design for many great films, including Brave, Finding Nemo, Shrek, and Ratatouille. Plus he’s illustrated four children books, including the fabulous Mr. Bud Wears the Cone.

Next week is the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, so expect a Lincoln-theme cover.

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Photography on The New Yorker cover

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The New Yorker is not known for using photography on its covers, but it has happened, first with a William Wegman photograph of a weimaraner dressed as Eustace Tilley (Feb. 21 & 28, 2000), and then last week for the Spring Style issue, with a series of four photographs combined with a line drawing by Christoph Niemann. For March 30, art editor Françoise Mouly has gone back to one of her favorite cartoon artists, Barry Blitt, featuring Hillary Clinton in “Clinton’s Emoji.”

I, on the other hand, have chosen to continue Mouly’s new tradition of using photography, if only with an image that looks as if it could be an illustration. I took this photograph at the subway station near Connie Island or on the subway on the way there, I don’t quite remember.

I have an idea for an illustration of Ted Cruz, which I was going to do for this week’s cover, but the airplane crash in the Alps left me with a somber feeling. Perhaps I’ll revisit Cruz for the next cover.

If you know of any other occasion when The New Yorker has used photography on the cover, please let me know. Thanks.

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In Love With Art and Françoise

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If you’re an illustrator, a cartoonist or a comics fan, if you’re intrigued by the creative process, or if you’re obsessed with everything New Yorker (like me), I wholeheartedly recommend reading In Love with Art: Françoise Mouly’s Adventures in Comics with Art Spiegelman, by Jeet Heer. As a budding artist, a former photo editor, and seeking validation for my obsessions, I fell in love with Art, and Françoise.

First a little background. Mouly is the art editor for The New Yorker since 1993. She also published RAW magazine in the 90’s, and is now publishing TOON Books, comics for children in which she brings art into the classroom. She’s also the author of “Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See”, and is married to esteemed artist Art Spiegelman. And, in a lesser-known fact, she’s an artist in her own right, having created wonderful comics and New Yorker covers. Plus, she’s a great colorist, with a past that includes coloring for Marvel.

In Love with Art will make you fall in love with both Art and Françoise. It opens the doors to a fascinating world. I was pleased to find out I’m not the only crazy person with many ideas in progress. According to Spiegelman, Mouly is “a whirling dervish, someone always working on many projects at once.” According to Heer, Mouly seems to take on projects by trusting her intuition, and figuring out how to accomplish things later. I personally think it’s the only way to do things. If I had thought too much about it, rather than throwing my hat in the ring, I would have never written four plays (some of the most fun projects of my life) or I wouldn’t have volunteered to paint the giant backdrops for the upcoming SBHS play, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, quite a daunting challenge. Mouly feeds on challenges, and that’s why she took the job for The New Yorker after then-editor Tina Brown approached her. In Mouly’s words: “If I didn’t work for Tina, that was fine with me. If she took it, it’d be a challenge, but it was an exciting one.”

I love that Heer, Mouly and Spiegelman are not afraid to talk about suicide, especially given that Spiegelman lost his mother to suicide, after she survived the Holocaust and Auschwitz concentration camp. According to Heer, both Mouly and Spiegelman have had suicidal thoughts. The first RAW issue, edited by Art and Françoise explored suicide, as the cover announced: “The Graphic Magazine of Postponed Suicides”, making a reference to E.M. Cioran’s quote: “Every book is a suicide postponed”. Spiegelman goes on to say: “To think about suicide is not necessarily to commit suicide. It’s to acknowledge the precariousness of being alive and to affirm it. Every moment that you don’t commit suicide is an affirmation.”

Advice to artists.

Express yourself without compromise. As Mouly says, Spiegelman is “brutally, ruthless honest, which is one way to get the truth and, to me, the mark of a true artist.” (page 29). It took me a while to figure this one out, having studied in a very formal photography school where following the norm was rewarded, rather than self-expression, and then having studied journalism, where being objective was not only encouraged but also mandatory. As a result, the first years of my career as a journalist produced mostly objective (dry) articles, before I realized I needed to be more personal.

And one more gem from the book, the paraphrased words of Russian formalist artist Viktor Shklovski, adored by Mouly: “The purpose of art is to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.”

Advice to editors.

The book makes me want to be a photo editor once again. Spiegelman summarizes what it takes to be an editor, or rather a good editor: “Good editing is more surgical than just telling people what to do”. And Herr adds: “Proper editing means helping an artist develop his or her own best tendencies.”(Page 38). It’s a very rewarding job, similar perhaps to being a teacher and allowing your students to shine on their own.

Mouly works for artists, to make them better, and to increase their influence: “‘I do believe I’m harnessing the power of artists as catalysts, holding a mirror to society, producing a suite of images, that, taken as a whole, capture what we’re going through.'” (Page 121).

Advice to illustrators wanting to publish in The New Yorker.

Just as in any art, be yourself and break the rules, but also have an educated view of art history. Heer says, “Mouly is the type of radical who believes change has to be grounded in tradition. Every time she initiates a project, she studies what has been done before, so she can map out new directions.” (Page 103).

Since I’ve considered the faux New Yorker covers that I’ve been drawing as posters that I would hang at home, what Herr says makes me happy. “For Mouly, a good cover ‘has to function as a cartoon, but also like a poster,’ with design, color and composition all pressed into the service of an idea.” (Page 104). Heer expands on the idea of art that has a lasting effect: “As Daniel Clowes has noted, an effective New Yorker image cover ‘has to communicate an idea that takes a beat or tow to come together in the subscriber’s mind. It can’t be a throwaway cheap-laugh gag. It has to hold the reader’s interest for an entire week while it sits on their coffee table. I like the ideas to have certain ambiguity, a sense that the characters are in on the joke.’” (Page 112).

Mouly watches for the week-to-week flow of covers, avoiding the repetition of artists, and paying attention to style and color: “‘Cumulatively, it is clear to me that New Yorker covers have a value as a suite of images rather than any one image,’ Mouly argues. ‘It’s really great to have David Hockney next to Robert Crumb next to George Booth next to Ivan Brunetti. Right now on my wall I have a McGuire next to a George Booth, and that makes me happy because they are such different artists and different sensibilities.’” (Page 105)

As a foreigner, I was happy to read  common are scenes of New York are “often done by foreign artists, who Mouly believes have a sharper eye for the Big Apple’s distinctiveness.” (Page 109)

Don’t forget one very important element of a New Yorker cover, often ‘a picture of a picture’, as legendary artist Saul Steinberg once said of the 1999 cover by Spiegelman of a policeman shooting at Coney Island. (Page 109). Heer explains in the next page, “Many of Mouly’s covers are likewise pictures of pictures, meta-images that appropriate familiar icons and deploy them in strange unexpected ways. The singular feature of a meta-image is that it can’t be fully understood in a single glance; it requires the viewer to take some time to decipher the different components of a picture and figure out how they fit together. ‘In a New Yorker cover you are given the elements of a puzzle,’ Mouly argues. ‘It demands a lot more from the reader. Not everything is spelled out for you, but you complete the circle. The one indispensable element of a New Yorker is an intelligent reader.'”

Faces are often missing on covers, which is fine with me because when I draw scenes with people, I often leave their faces blank or very vaguely expressed (both because of the limitation of drawing with fat oil pastels but also because I like the anonymity of paint as opposed to photography in a time when millions of photos are posted online, and privacy seems non-existent). “‘It’s always interesting to represent something by showing what’s not there,” Mouly says, “Even if a face is represented, it’s often indistinct or ambiguous.” (Page 111).

And if you’re rejected, don’t sweat it.

If you get rejected, don’t sweat it. Even comic book legend Robert Crumb has been rejected. And as he said in a on a University of Chicago panel about working for The New Yorker: ‘You might as well get your dick cut off.” (Page 108).

Or you can give up (although I don’t recommend it), by ascribing to Renata Adler’s point of view. In her memoir Gone: The Last Days of the New Yorker, she claims, “‘The covers became consistently  flatly ugly,’ ’to shock’, ‘pointlessly repellent.'” (Page 108).

There are plenty of interesting thoughts and  jewels in the book , but I won’t give them all away here, or you won’t want to read it. I leave you with Art Spiegelman’s off the cuff answer to a question by his daughter.

Nadja:—Papa, what’s art?

Art:—Art is giving shape to one’s thoughts and feelings.

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Mirror New Yorker: Spring Style Issue

Isaac Hernández. Spring has sprung? March 15-16, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol (19×24″). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

Isaac Hernández. Spring has sprung? March 15-16, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol (19×24″). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

Doing a weekly cover for The New Yorker can be exhausting, even if they are faux covers. Nevertheless, it’s fun. This is the week that The New Yorker prints one of its two Style Issues. They other one being in September. It occurred to me that with New York covered in snow, it seems a bit early to be thinking of Spring. The most challenging part about this cover was that California is going through a heat wave. It was difficult thinking of snow in record heat temperatures. And even though it’s still snowing in some parts of the East Coast, there’s no snow in New York right now. Luckily, there’s snow in the forecast for March 21st, closer to the date on my mirror New Yorker cover.

Another challenge was to make the window display look like such. In order to do so, I tried to make the background be some kind of collage of individual photographs: a butterfly, a daisy, a sun, a bird, a cloud… I even thought it would be fun to use actual photographs for this collage, adding a farther sense of separation between the cold little girl and the display of skinny Spring models. But The New Yorker has only used a photograph on its cover once, of one of William Wegman’s dogs dressed as Eustace Tilley (Feb. 21 & 28, 2000). Well, no more, this week’s Style Issue (March 23rd, 2015) also features photography, mixed with illustration, of a piece of pink paper being folded into a rose, by Christoph Niemann. Thank you, Françoise Mouly for opening the door to photographs.

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Five New Yorker Books You Must Read

Isaac-150308-

In my newfound obsession for The New Yorker, I’ve been buying, and reading books. My subscription to the magazine doesn’t seem to be enough. These are the first five I’ve fallen pray to.

1. How About Never – Is Never Good For You? – My Life in Cartoons. Bob Mankoff

How-About-Never-Mankoff001I have to admit I was beginning to be a bit self-conscious about my obsession… until I read Bob Mankoff’s memoir, How About Never – Is Never Good For You?. Mankoff, founder of the Cartoon Bank, was obsessed with publishing his cartoons in The New Yorker, and he not only accomplished it, but then went on to become cartoon editor. I truly enjoyed reading his book, which I devoured in just a couple of days. It’s funny, insightful, and it provides some clues as to how to create cartoons and how to get your cartoons published in The New Yorker. This was a quick, fun read. Recommended for cartoon lovers and cartoonists alike. Out of print, available used.

2. Blown Covers – New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See. Françoise Mouly

Blown-Covers-New-Yorker001

Mouly’s book offers not only an insight into the life of an art editor, but also a look into a window of history, from the Clinton years to W. to Obama. I love seeing all the rejects, but also reading Mouly’s comments about the art and the time period. And I love all the profiles of the featured artists at the end of the book, together with their self-portraits. Buy it now.

As I write this, I’ve discovered a video of Mouly talking about the history of The New Yorker covers, and the Blown Covers, ending with a panel with artists Robert Crumb, Chris Ware, and Dan Clowes, filmed at the Gray Center Comics Con and posted in Critical Inquiry, a pretty cool website. It’s nice to hear Mouly’s French accent describing some of the Blown Covers she writes about in the book. I have also just learned the life of the book continued for a while online, with a blog in which Mouly and her daughter, Nadja Spiegelman, would choose a Blown Cover each week from many online entries. Gayle Kabaker “June Brides” June 25, 2012 cover was chosen from this contest. And Jack Hunter’s “Moment of Joy” June 8 & 15, 2013 cover is an evolution of one he submitted to the Blown Covers blog. Unfortunately, this contest seems to be on hold, but you can still see past winners and runner-up entries.

3. The Complete Maus. Art Spiegelman

Maus001

It took some courage to buy this book. I didn’t know if I wanted to read a comic book about the Holocaust, regardless of it having won a Pullitzer, or perhaps because it had won a Pullitzer. But I went ahead and purchased it, and I’m so happy I did. I read it in about two days. Maus is engaging, sad and beautiful. And it’s much more than a book about the Holocaust in which Jews are mice, Polish are pigs and Germans are cats. When I read the reviews, too many people got lost into the significance of each animal, and ‘how dare Art Spiegelman show Polish people as pigs?’ Grow up, people. Or rather, grow down. Become a child, and enjoy the book. There are so many levels of richness. And yes, it tells some horrible stories of human behavior… I want to read it again. Buy it here.

Art is a regular contributor to The New Yorker, and is married to Françoise Mouly, so this qualifies as a kind of New Yorker book.

4. Covering the New Yorker – Cutting-Edge Covers from a Literary Institution. Françoise Mouly

Covering-New-Yorker-001

You would have thought that I would have started by buying this book before deciding to draw a weekly faux New Yorker cover. But no, I’m impulsive. If I had thought about it and waited to buy this book, I probably would have never started this project, just like I probably would have never written my first play (and the three subsequent ones). But yes, if you’re going to take on drawing New Yorker covers every week, you ought to have this book first. It’s neatly organized by subject matter or themes usually on its covers: The Big City, Winter, Martin Luther King Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, April Fool’s Day, Spring, Easter, Taxes, Mother’s Day, Weddings, Graduation, Father’s Day, Independence Day, Summer, Back to School, Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, The Art World, Books & Fiction, The Movies, Fashion, Theater, Opera, Music and Dance, Sports… and it also includes profiles and portfolios of its most prolific artists: Edward Sorel, Bruce McCall, Barry Blitt, Art Spiegelman, J.J. Sempé and Saul Steinberg. You can open this book on any page and be entertained. Out of print, available used.

5. The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker. Edited by Bob Mankoff.

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You can be heavily entertained with this volume as well, all while working out, because the hardcover edition weighs a whooping 9.2 lbs. So at least if you don’t laugh your ass off, at least you’ll laugh your arms off. And if you cannot get enough with the 2,004 cartoons on its pages, you can pop the two CD-Roms into your computer (if it still has a CD-Rom reader) and see all 68,647 cartoons ever published in the magazine from February 21, 1925 until February 23, 2004. As Mankoff says in the introduction, a book with all the cartoons printed, at three per page, would have 22,882 pages, and “a book with pages the sizes of barn doors was deemed impractical.” Out of print, available used.

Bonus. Ron Hauge’s Year of Rejected New Yorker Covers. Ron Hauge

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Hauge did a year of New Yorker cartoons, but his were really rejected, because, unlike me, he submitted them. But he did so expecting to be rejected, for they are over-the-top illustrations, even for Tina Brown, I think. Not to say that art editor François Mouly doesn’t love them, but she couldn’t get away with publishing them. They show the real New York. Stephen Kroninger collects a vast selection of these rejected covers in his blog.

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Book Design: To Die in the USA

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I’m happy to announce that the latest book I’ve designed, To Die in the USA by Víctor Fuentes, has launched and it’s now on sale. As this fictional memoir is pretty dark, I thought about making a black cover, after all, the book starts with the author’s death. But given that even though the novel is dark it’s humorous after all, I went with very dark blue. I fell in love with this book when I first read it in Spanish, and I’ve become good friends with its author ever since. So I was very happy to give his words a nice look. I’m very happy with the result and hope that you’re too.

If you’d like to meet Víctor Fuentes himself, Professor Emeritus at UCSB, the official launch will take place at Granada Books on March 12th at 5pm.  I will be there to get my copy autographed, and hope to see you there too.

I don’t want to say much about the book as to not to give away its wonderful twists and turns, only that it’s inspired by the author’s own experiences as a Spanish exile from the Spanish Civil War. Although Fuentes has written numerous books, including two more memoirs that are part of a trilogy, this is the first one that has been translated to English.

Víctor Fuentes, author of To Die in the USA. Photo: Isaac Hernández.

Víctor Fuentes, author of To Die in the USA. Photo: Isaac Hernández.

Although there are plenty of gems in the book, many of which are real even though they seem like fiction, one of my favorite parts of the book is when the author travels back to Madrid after the death of dictator Francisco Franco. Fuentes  then walks around Moncloa, the neighborhood of his childhood, and reminisces about what it was like when he was growing up there. As he describes the streets of the late 1970s, I can picture myself in those same streets, as that’s when I was a child, and that was also my neighborhood. Since then, I’ve had the fortune to walk the same streets with Víctor in one rare occasion when we both visited Madrid at the same time, and we ate some tapas at Bar Manolo.

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Mirror New Yorker: St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Isaac Hernández. St. Patrick's Day Parade. Mar. 8, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol board (19×24″ 48.3x61cm). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

Isaac Hernández. St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Mar. 8, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol board (19×24″ 48.3x61cm). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

I had many ideas for the St. Patrick’s Day faux New Yorker cover… too many. So instead of drawing, I spent my time thinking. Not a good idea. I guess that’s what deadlines are for, to get you out of your head and into action. I went back to my original concept, a view of Fifth Avenue, with St. Patrick’s Cathedral watching her parade. I’m running very low on white (my Sennelier Grand oil pastel stick is not very grand at all presently). To save as much white as possible, I smeared the colors with my fingers, achieving an impressionistic effect, where the avenue is more like a green river.

Claude Monet. RueMontorgueil, Paris, Festival of 30 June 1878.

Claude Monet. Rue Montorgueil, Paris, Festival of 30 June 1878.

As I drew, Claude Monet’s Rue Montorgueil painting was in the back of my mind, but I didn’t want to look at it until it was complete. And now that I’m finished, I think it may not be done after all and that I’ll spend more time on it. One of the things I may change is the Irish flag in the front. In the photos I’ve seen of Fifth Avenue during the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the street is covered with star-spangled banners, except for one Irish tri-color hanging from the cathedral. I thought I needed to honor the Irish more clearly, so I made their flag be in the foreground as well. However, I kind of like a starred-and-striped St. Patrick’s Day. With the use of Adobe Photoshop, I modified the picture to be more patriotic, and it works. So it’s back to the drawing board for me. Incidentally, I just learned that the expression “back to the drawing board” came from a New Yorker cartoon by the great Peter Arno.

Or maybe I’ll just leave it the way it is.

Isaac Hernandez. Altered image of oil pastel

Isaac Hernandez. Altered image of St. Patrick’s Parade oil pastel.

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Difference Maker Zainab Salbi

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“Like life, peace begins with women,” says Zainab Salbi, founder and former Executive Director of Women for Women International, a non-profit organization that assists women in war-torn countries and helps them rebuild their lives, families, and countries.

Zainab Salbi, the daughter of Saddam Hussein’s private pilot, grew up under war and dictatorship. She survived bombardment, saw horrors, and yet she continues to stride forward with a positive attitude focused on finding solutions. On the occasion of International Women’s Day a few years ago, Zainab wrote a letter with a plan to reverse violence and poverty in ten years, to turn around the lives of millions of women “for whom survival remains a supreme challenge and empowerment remains a foreign concept.” Her mission still resonates.

“These women,” continues Salbi, “protest the fact that women make up 70 percent of the world’s poor, 75 percent of the civilians killed in war (along with their children), and according to the United Nations, receive only 10 percent of global income for 66 percent of the world’s work. They reject the narrative of violence and poverty they have inherited. They embrace a future vision for peace and prosperity, and begin by embracing their neighbors, despite whatever lines of conflict may have been drawn.”

Zainab thinks three requirements are needed to reverse violence and poverty: Unite, Break the Silence, and Invest. “We must put aside our differences,” she says. “World leaders must fully include women in all decision-making, from the MDGs to maternal health to monetary policy.”

This year, on International Woman’s Day, over 100 women artists will be performing music around the world to raise funds for Women for Women, and you can join the party. “It is still a fact that women and girls do not enjoy the same rights as boys and men,” says Brita Fernandez Schmidt, Executive Director of Women for Women International. “When women come together, they inspire each other and realize they’re stronger together.”

On the days that nothing seems to go right, I think of Zainab, always smiling, and I think of the work that the organization she founded is doing to help those who have to suffer war and its consequences. My day-to-day problems are nothing compared to those of millions of people in the world. That’s why we chose to feature her on the cover of Difference Makers: Leaders in the Arts, Social Justice and Sustainability, a book featuring some of the very amazing people I’ve been lucky to photograph and interview. Her courage and joy express our shared vision for a thriving world.

I open her book The Other Side of War: Women´s Stories of Survival and Hope, with photographs by Susan Meiselas, and I’m reminded of how lucky I am to be a man. “War is not a computer-generated missile striking a digital map,” writes Salbi in The Other Side of War. “War is the color of earth as it explodes in our faces, the sound of a child pleading, the smell of smoke and fear. Women survivors of war are not the single image portrayed on the television screen, but the glue that holds families and countries together. Perhaps by understanding women, and the other side of war…we will have more humility in our discussions of wars…perhaps it is time to listen to women’s side of history.“

It’s time that we all join together, not just women but all of us, to invest in women. After all, when women are happy, aren’t we all happier?

How Women for Women works

With a monthly donation of $30 per month you can help a woman living in a country at war. The money’s enough to send her children and herself to school, to learn a new profession, but not so much that these women become dependent on the donation. It’s a temporary assistance for the duration of the program, enough to send her kids to school and support her to gain new professional skills.

The idea is not to just give women survivors of war a sewing machine, but to provide the necessary training too. Women for Women conducts marketing studies to see what demand exists in their region, and then trains the women to provide that. For example in Bosnia Herzegovina, the group collectively set up a carpentry shop, after seeing the large demand for new doors and windows to replace those damaged by snipers and bombs.

Women are also assisted psychologically, so that they can recover their dignity. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than half a million women have been raped. Thanks to Women for Women, they find the strength to talk and recover emotionally. In places where this kind of discussion is culturally taboo, this service has been life altering, and has allowed generations of women to reach out to each other, and to form a community of support that previously didn’t exist.

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Women on the Bridge, 50 Years after Selma’s Bloody Sunday

This week’s real New Yorker cover by Birgit Schössow is brilliant. It’s one of those that makes you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Having the Flat Iron Building as an ice breaker ship makes all the sense in the world, especially since New York has been engulfed in ice. Plus this rendition by the German artist is simply beautiful… it’s something that you’d want decorating your wall. And since Condé Nast sells their covers through the Cartoon Bank, it makes complete sense that art editor Françoise Mouly would have chosen this one. Schösso is proud to have her lovely illustration featured in The New Yorker, as her website attestsI’ve been wanting to do a street view of the Flat Iron Building for a faux cover, and now Birgit has raised the bar.

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Isaac Hernández. Women on the Bridge. February 24-March 1, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol (19×24″). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

I don’t live in New York and haven’t been enduring the cold front, so the choice for this week’s faux New Yorker cover was pretty clear to me, being that March 7th marks the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama and March 8th is International Women’s Day.

Bloody Sunday refers to the beating that civil rights activists received from Alabama State Troopers as their civil rights march tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River on the way to Montgomery. A few years ago, Women for Women International organized Women on the Bridge, a gathering on bridges around the world demanding equal rights for women worldwide, as I wrote for El Mundo, Voxxi and in my blog at the time. With that in mind, I put one and one together and created a gathering of Women on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

In this illustration, I chose to remove the name from the bridge; first, because writing in a painting can seem distracting… and second, because in some warped irony the Confederate General turned US Senator, Edmund Pettus, served as Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. There’s a petition on Change.org asking the City of Selma to change the name of the bridge. Following George W. Bush’s example, I took preemptive action and removed the name already.

Originally, I wanted to feature women who have made a global difference walking down the bridge. I thought it’d be fun to have Amelia Boyton, the first African American woman in Alabama to run for Congress, who was present on the bridge that day, together with other women who have helped advance women’s rights; but then I reconsidered that it would be more powerful if the women were anonymous. Also, Barry Blitt had already made a New Yorker cover, last month, featuring Martin Luther King with contemporary victims of racial violence in Dream of Reconciliation, inspired by the Selma film.

Here’s a special treat, the sketch I made in preparation for this mirror New Yorker cover:

Women on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  Oil pastel on paper, 8x8¨. ©2015 Isaac Hernández.

Women on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Oil pastel on paper, 8×8¨. ©2015 Isaac Hernández.

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NASA’s Photos Which Inspired a Generation Go to Auction

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Clyde Holliday. The first photograph from space, 24 October 1946. “The horizon as photographed at an altitude of 65 miles. At this point the camera was theoretically 720 miles from the horizon and the picture shows 40,000 square miles of space”, 24 October 1946 (APL caption). Before 1946, the highest pictures ever taken of the Earth’s surface were from the Explorer II balloon which had ascended 13.7 miles in 1935. The official boundary of space is the Karman line which lies at an altitude of 62.5 miles (100 km). This historic photograph was taken by a 35-mm camera developed by Clyde Holliday of the APL and fitted on the 13th V-2 missile launched from the White Sands Missile Range. This is “how our Earth would look to visitors from another planet coming in on a spaceship” wrote Clyde Holliday in National Geographic in 1950.

Before NASA started taking and showing the world pictures from space, it was up to our imagination to picture our home planet. Once NASA went into space with a camera, our imagination got a boost. On October 24, 1946, NASA launched a rocked with a camera (above) and we could see, for the first time, the curvature of the Earth. It was easier to accept that our planet was really round. You can now own a piece of this photographic history, as a large collection of photographs from NASA’s Golden Age goes up for auction in London this Thursday, February 26. You can bid online at the Bloomsbury Auctions website for one of the hundreds of prints, with bidding starting as low as £200.

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The largest area of Earth hitherto photographed at one time, from Nebraska to the Pacific, October 1954. Vintage gelatin silver print, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in) This composite photograph is made up of 310 prints of 16-mm motion picture film exposed about 100 miles above the Earth. The camera was in a rocket fired from White Sands in October 1954. The area shows about one and a quarter million square miles of the Earth.

It took eight more years for the world to have a picture of the Earth as a globe, thanks to a composite created from 310 prints (above). Now we could actually see that the Earth was round.

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Buzz Aldrin. First self-portrait in space, Gemini 12, November 1966. Vintage chromogenic print on fibre-based Kodak paper, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in), NASA MSC caption and “A Kodak Paper” watermark on verso, numbered NASA S-66-62926 in red in top margin Illustrated: Space p.71, Cortright p.184. Reproduction, © Bloomsbury Auctions.

From the hundreds of photos being auctioned, I was drawn to Buzz Aldrin’s self-portrait (above), which has the look and feel of a selfie, except this was done with a very expensive space Hasselblad. Today’s mobile phones have more computing power than the spaceship Aldrin is in, so the legend goes.

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The phases of the Earth during an entire day, ATS I, 11 December 1966. Vintage gelatin silver print, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in), NASA Goddard caption on verso. ATS transmitted the first detailed whole Earth photographs and relayed from 23,000 miles images at various hours showing the “phases of the Earth”.

I grew up with pictures of the Earth from space, and I can only imagine what it would have been like to see the sequence of photos above back in 1966, or the first high-quality color photographs of the Earth below, taken in November 1967.

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The first high quality colour photograph of the whole planet Earth, ATS III, 18 November 1967. Vintage chromogenic print on fibre-based Kodak paper, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x10in), NASA Goddard ATS stamp and “A Kodak Paper” watermark on verso. “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available – once the sheer isolation of the Earth becomes known – a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” Astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, speaking in 1948. The entire disc of the Earth, photographed by the revolutionary Multicolor Spin-Scan Cloudcover Camera. Even at this relatively short distance in time, it is difficult to imagine the impact it had on the public who responded with real emotion to this first image of their planet in its true colours. Edgar Cortright selected this photograph as the frontispiece for “Exploring Space with a Camera” published the following year.

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First colour photograph of the Crescent Earth, Apollo 4, 9 November 1967. Vintage chromogenic print on fibre-based Kodak paper, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in), “A Kodak Paper” watermark on verso, numbered MSC AS4-1-410 in red in top margin The photograph was made when the Saturn V third stage was orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 9,745 nautical miles. “Beautiful though they were, Apollo 4’s pictures didn’t make much impact in the press. Today, though, Apollo 4’s ghostly image of the Earth’s globe, pale and breathing, like a child in the womb awaiting its first human witness, has a peculiar fascination”. Earthrise, pp86-87 Illustrated: Exploring Space, p.199

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William Anders. First Earthrise seen by human eyes, Apollo 8, December 1968. Vintage chromogenic print on fibre-based Kodak paper, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in), NASA MSC caption and “A Kodak Paper” watermark on verso, numbered NASA AS8-14-2383 in red in top margin. The celebrated view of planet Earth appearing over the bleached lunar horizon. “There was nothing in the plan for an Earthrise photo. Indeed, we didn’t even see an actual Earthrise until, on our third orbit, we changed the spacecraft’s orientation to heads up and looking forward. As we came round the back side of the moon, where I had been taking pictures of craters near our orbital track, I looked up and saw the startlingly beautiful sight of our home planet “rising” up above the stark and battered lunar horizon. It was the only color against the deep blackness of space. In short, it was beautiful, and clearly delicate”. W. Anders. Illustrated: The View from Space, p.98, Space p.83, Newhall pp136-137. Reproduction, © Bloomsbury Auctions

I remember the picture above because my father was publishing El Año del Automóvil and he was so fascinated by it that he requested a copy from NASA which he could use in the book. And I love the image below. It inspires my imagination. I would love to be up there, looking down on creation.

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Russell Schweickart. David Scott stands in the open hatch of the CSM, standup EVA, Apollo 9, March 1969. Vintage chromogenic print on fibre-based Kodak paper, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in), NASA MSC caption and “A Kodak Paper” watermark on verso, numbered NASA AS9-20-3064 in red in top margin. “I took this shot of Dave Scott taking a picture of me at the beginning of my EVA on Apollo 9. It captures just a bit of the fantastic beauty of the Earth juxtaposed against the infinite black of space. In the foreground is that amazing combination of human and machine that is enabling us to emerge into the universe out of the womb of Earth”. R. Schweickart. Illustrated: Space p.84, Spacecam p.40, Great Images in NASA (online), Moon p.160-161. Reproduction, © Bloomsbury Auctions

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Panorama of the lunar horizon at the terminator over the Sea of Vapors, Apollo 10, May 1969. Mosaic of three vintage gelatin silver prints, 30 x 36cm, image 27.5 x 28.5cm, numbered NASA AS10-32-4819 to AS10-32-4821 in black in top margin. Reproduction, © Bloomsbury Auctions

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227. Panorama from landing site 1 to the lunar terminator, Apollo 10, May 1969. Mosaic of twenty-eight vintage gelatin silver prints, 29 x 224cm, image 25 x 215cm, numbered NASA AS10-31-4527 to AS10-31-4559 in black in top margin. Landing site 1 was one of the possible destinations for Apollo 11. Reproduction, © Bloomsbury Auctions

And I bet the collages of the moon surface inspired David Hockney to create his “joiners”. The one above can be yours for an estimated price of £4,000 to £6,000, the same estimated price as the iconic image of Buzz Aldrin almost touching the surface of the Moon.

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Neil Armstrong. Buzz Aldrin prior to becoming second human being to set foot upon the Moon, Apollo 11, July 1969. Large-format vintage chromogenic print on fibre-based Kodak paper, borderless, 60.5 x 50.5cm, “A Kodak Paper” watermark on verso, NASA HQ caption on separate page, [NASA negative number AS11-40-5866]. “We opened the hatch and Neil, with me as his navigator, began backing out of the tiny opening. It seemed like a small eternity before I heard Neil say, “That’s one small step for man . . . one giant leap for mankind.” In less than fifteen minutes I was backing awkwardly out of the hatch and onto the surface to join Neil, who, in the tradition of all tourists, had his camera ready to photograph my arrival.” Buzz Aldrin. Illustrated: Moon p.193, Reproduction, © Bloomsbury Auctions.

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Neil Armstrong. Portrait of Buzz Aldrin with the photographer and the Lunar Module reected in his gold-plated visor, Apollo 11, July 1969. Large-format vintage chromogenic print on fibre-based Kodak paper, borderless, 61 x 51cm, “A Kodak Paper” watermark on verso, NASA HQ caption on separate page, [NASA negative number AS11-40-5903]. A Man on the Moon, the legendary image. Illustrated: Moon, frontispiece. £8,000 – £10,000. Reproduction, © Bloomsbury Auctions.

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Pete Conrad. Alan Bean with the reection of the photographer in his visor, EVA 2, Apollo 12, November 1969. Vintage gelatin silver print, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in), NASA MSC caption on verso, numbered NASA AS12-49-7278 in black in top margin. Alan Bean holds a container of lunar soil in his right hand. His Hasselblad camera is mounted on the control unit on his chest. Illustrated: Full Moon plate 69, The View from Space p.46.

I love the above photo of Alan Bean by Pete Conrad for many reasons: the reflection, the sharpness, the really cool Hasselblad camera. And the frame below of John Young sliding around in the lunar vehicle in the name of science is just fun. Go ahead and bid, and you could own one of the 692 lots from NASA’s Golden Age.

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Charles Duke. Lunar Grand Prix at Descartes, EVA 3, Apollo 16, April 1972. Two vintage chromogenic prints, one on fibre-based Kodak paper, “A Kodak Paper” watermark, numbered NASA S-72-37002, one on resin coated Kodak paper, “A Kodak Paper” watermark, numbered 72-H-649, description printed verso (2). The rover gets a speed workout by John Young to test how the vehicle handles in the Moon’s one sixth gravity. The views are frames from motion picture film exposed by a 16mm Maurer camera held by Charles Duke. £300 – £500

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Happy Birthday New Yorker / Dr. Seuss

Isaac Hernández. Seusstace Remnick. February 19-20, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol (19×24″). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

Isaac Hernández. Seusstace Remnick. February 19-20, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol (19×24″). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

Given the time I’ve been dedicating to researching The New Yorker covers, I have no excuse for forgetting their 90th birthday.  If I had done my homework, I would have known that the magazine has published a variation of Eustace Tilley for nearly every birthday issue. In fact, art editor Françoise Mouly began a contest for readers to create their versions of Mr. Tilley eight years ago. In an article cowritten with Mina Kaneko, Covers Associate, she gives an insight into the 2013 contest, and in a video, Kaneko and Mouly add some more wood to the contest fire. You can also listen to a conversation between Mouly and Matt Dellinger about Tilley and the cover on Player FM.

I missed my chance to enter, but I thought I would still make a cover featuring Eustace. So what if I made two covers instead of one this week? The New Yorker made nine in one week. Given that March 2nd is Theodor Geisel’s birthday (Dr. Seuss), I was planning to make a Seussian cover for next week. Then it clicked; the idea to make a Seusstace Tilley, with features from The Cat in the Hat, who’s also celebrating a birthday (published for the first time in March, 1957 and, as The New Yorker reports, translated to many languages, including Latin: Cattus Petasatus).

The illustration began as a self-portrait as Eustace in the Hat. However, since I had been called a narcissist earlier in the week, it occurred to me that I better not draw myself, again. Gay Talese liked his fake New Yorker cover, so I thought New Yorker editor David Remnick might like to see himself as Seusstace. After all, Remnick personifies the present (and future) New Yorker better than myself (just a wannabe New Yorker). I’m titling the piece Seusstace Remnick.

Since Dr. Seuss’s birthday is National Reading Day, I was going to have Remnick reading The New Yorker. I met Mr. Remnick the day the iPad version of The New Yorker was launched, featuring an interactive cover by David Hockney. Risking lack of originality, because many readers have already submitted Tilley with an iPad in the past, I still chose to have Remnick holding an iPad Mini. I still included the iconic butterfly, somehow hidden in the illustration. Can you find it?

The three covers that arrived with my New Yorker subscription. There are six more.

The three covers that arrived with my New Yorker subscription. There are six more.

Eustace Tilley and Rea Irvin

The dandy on the original cover was meant to be a parody, drawn by Rea Irving, (1881–1972), supposedly based on a 1834 caricature of the Count d’Orsay. Author Corey Ford (1902-1969) created a series of humor pieces, published in The New Yorker during 1915, featuring the dandy from the cover and giving him the name of Eustace Tilley.

Irvin was the first art editor of the magazine and creator of The New Yorker masthead typeface known as Irvin type. Born in San Francisco, Irvin left Mark Hopkins Art Institute after six months to work as an unpaid cartoonist for The San Francisco Examiner. In 1906 he moved to the East Coast, contributing illustrations to Red Book, Green Book, Life, Cosmopolitan, and, of course, The New Yorker, illustrating 169 of its covers between 1925 and 1958. Irvin also worked as a stage and screen actor and as a piano player.

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Oscars Selfie

Isaac Hernández. Oscars Selfie. February 9-12, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol board (19×24″ 48.3x61cm). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

Isaac Hernández. Oscars Selfie. February 9-12, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol board (19×24″ 48.3x61cm). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

Happy 90th Anniversary to The New Yorker! Now I know why your Oscars cover was early this year, because you saved this week for the nine covers that commemorate your 90th birthday. What was I thinking?! I forgot your birthday and didn’t send any presents, or even make you a special cover. All I’ve got is this Oscars Selfie, inspired by the selfie that Ellen DeGeneres instigated at last year’s Academy Awards, which features Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jared Leto, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong’o, Kevin Spacey and Channing Tatum.

Françoise Mouly orchestrated nine covers, and even gave a bit more information about the media used by the usual New Yorker artists: “oil painting for Kadir Nelson and Anita Kunz; pen and ink with watercolor for Roz Chast, Barry Blitt, and Istvan Banyai; oil pastel for Lorenzo Mattotti; collage for Peter Mendelsund; and digital art for Christoph Niemann.”

Some of this week’s nine cover artists are newcomers, as Mouly says, while Barry Blitt has made 88 covers, and Lorenzo Mattotti 30. I look forward to being one of those newcomers. There’s hope then, since Mattotti uses oil pastel, like me. Why not?

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Happy Valentine: Dog Love in Brooklyn, and thoughts on New Yorker art

Isaac Hernández. Happy Valentine. February 2-9, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol board (19×24″ 48.3x61cm).

Isaac Hernández. Dog Love in Brooklyn. February 2-9, 2015. Oil pastel on Bristol board (19×24″ 48.3x61cm). (Not an actual New Yorker cover)

I like the covers of The New Yorker for their visual stimulation, and their thought-provoking qualities, especially since Françoise Mouly became art director. In my quest to learn more on the subject, I just purchased Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See, by Mouly, which I’m enjoying tremendously. I wanted to be provocative with this cover for Valentine’s Day, based on a photograph I took in Brooklyn a few years ago. When a good friend said it was distasteful to show humping dogs on a cover, I knew I had to draw it. Besides, these dogs are roommates (I know because I met the owner) and they clearly love each other.

My art escapades into NewYorkerland have taken me to its cartoon world as well. From James Sturm, I’ve learned cartoon editor Bob Mankoff meets with comic artists every Tuesday. However, 60 Minutes says that Mankoff meets with cartoon artists on Wednesdays in a segment called So you want to see your cartoon in The New Yorker. Sturm created a daily cartoon for 100 days in order to practice getting published in The New Yorker. Having committed to a weekly cover, I could identify with him. I was intrigued by Sturm’s mission and loved his story. But while Sturm decided he wouldn’t want to pursue getting published in The New Yorker as a cartoonist, anymore, I’m still in the running. Mankoff’s Cartoon Lounge video series is another way to learn about The New Yorker. This week, he shows the new offices at 1 World Trade Center.

As I pulled the string of curiousity, I started studying the art of Art Spiegelman, and found a video interview of him by one of my new favorite writers, Neil Gaiman. Both of them have worked on very successful graphic novels, including Spiegelman’s Maus and Gaiman’s Stardust. Inspired by their words and the idea Gaiman expresses that a graphic novel is about graphic design and poetry, I started working on my own graphic novel, based on the first play I wrote, The Bridge to Nowhere. Although I drew comics featuring my teachers back in High School, I’m very much of a novice in this field. This is a big challenge. After the first day, I already wanted to give up, a sign that I ought to continue. And now I’m having a lot of fun solving the problems of a graphic novel.

Neil Gaiman in Conversation with Art Spiegelman from The Fisher Center on Vimeo.

Spiegelman, represented by the Steven Barclay Agency,  did a cover of a Hasidic Jew kissing a black woman for Valentine’s Day twelve years ago. As Jason Diamond explains on FlavorWire, Spiegelman was referencing the Crown Heights riots in Brooklyn. This cover made many people upset. Although, he explains, he also got a letter from a woman who thought it was nice to publish a picture of Abraham Lincoln kissing a slave for Presidents’ Day.

I know that any faux covers I post here will never be published in the magazine, for I’ve blown the exclusivity by making them public. This thought almost stopped me from posting this week’s faux cover. Sometimes I also think we are bombarded with too much media already and I wonder why I’d want to add to the noise. But then I spoke to a friend in New York and I realized I wanted to share this cover with him. So, here you go, Julio Valdeón, this cover’s of dog love in Brooklyn is dedicated to you. Posting the cover here is also a reminder, that getting published in The New Yorker is only a game, just like life is a game, and it’s a good idea not to take it, or myself, too seriously.

Thank you for reading. Please post your comments about your favorite New Yorker cartoon or cover. Speaking of which, this week’s The New Yorker cover, by Barry Blitt, “Kim Jong-Un Interrupts” features the Academy Awards. I saved the Oscars for next week’s cover, which I will be posting shortly.

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Happy Birthday, Gay Talese

mirror-newyorker-Gay-Talese-Isaac-Feb-2015Happy Birthday, Mr. Talese. When I was planning this week’s faux The New Yorker cover, the snow storm of the century was about to hit New York. The obvious illustration for this week would have then been snowy trees (which Mark Ulriksen did do for the real The New Yorker cover)… but your birthday was coming up (February 7), and it wouldn’t come around for another year. I couldn’t wait. And it seemed so appropriate, given that you’re a contributing writer to The New Yorker.

As a journalist, there are a few interviews I was lucky to be part of which filled my heart with warmth and my brain with fond memories. Yours was one of them, as I wrote in this blog before. Happy birthday! To you we owe great journalism. Thank you!

And thank you for the kind note you wrote when I sent you prints last time, and which you authorized for me to reproduce in my blog:

Dear Gabrielle,

Thanks for forwarding Mr. Hernandez’s excellent photographs, which I had not seen before and thus I am as surprised as I am pleased with the results.  Obviously he is a superb photographer and I’ll treasure what he sent and make use of with his permission should any occasion arise. Also thank him for his generous comments in addition to the gift of  his photographs.

Sincerely,

Gay Talese

More info on Gay Talese

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17 Selfies with Haikus

Back in 2011, I was inspired by my friend Virginia Bobro to do 100 days of photographs. The first time she did it, she photographed a glass for 100 days. Then she did the same with a pencil. The day I decided to follow suit, I was boarding a bus to Los Angeles on the way to Las Vegas and my wife handed me a pencil. But, alas, I lost the pencil after filling up the “comments card” for the Santa Barbara Airbus, before I even took my first of 100 pics! How could I even do 100 days of anything if I lose it on the first day? Then I thought about something I always carry around, and I took my first self-portrait, or perhaps more appropriately, a selfie. Given that last year I did one daily oil pastel and this year I started a weekly faux New Yorker cover,  I thought it’d be appropriate to revisit the series that perhaps started it all with a selection from these 100 self-portraits, each of them with a haiku.

Vegas or bust.

Self no. 1.

Going to Vegas

Bus rolling on winter road

I lost my pencil

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Self no. 3.

Fast Highway 15

Home abound I wish I was

Wait a sec, I am

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Self no. 5.

New York Illusion

Just a picture on the wall

But it doesn’t lie
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Self no. 7.

Almost February

Life’s like a Christmas tree

Time passes quickly

 

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Self no. 9.

I wanna be a dog

Be closer than I appear

Wind blows in my face

 

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Self no. 11.

Thousand-words-picture

Who’s the man in the mirror?

Does he even know?

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February 5 (Self no. 12).

A midday siesta

Eyes open to inner thought

What will they see now?

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February 6 (Self no. 13).

Why do I worry

I’m only getting older

Life is beautiful

Isaac Hernandez. Self-portrait. Photo: ©2011 Isaac Hernandez/IsaacArt.com

February 7 (Self no. 14).

I look pretty scary

When I brush my pearly whites

If I only knew

Isaac Hernandez. Self-portrait. Photo: ©2011 Isaac Hernandez/IsaacArt.com

February 8 (self no. 15).

Sweet smell of flowers

In the middle of winter

Did you stop and look?

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February 9 (Self no. 16).

I would love to paint

What a beautiful mirror

Lit by winter light

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Self no. 17.

Darkness surrounds me

Like a box of chocolates

Almost Valentine’s

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February 11 (Self no. 18).

I feel like hiding

Under the covers of truth?

Deep inside my thoughts

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Feb. 12 (Self no. 19).

I’m disappearing

Belong No longer here

Not quite, but almost

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February 13 (Self No. 20).

Sometimes not knowing

One hundred self-portraits

I hide behind me

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February 14 (Self no. 21).

Migraine coming now

The new day has just begun

I can feel your pain

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February 15 (Self no. 22).

Andalusian dog

More or less, in dog years,

Five hundred years old

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Unconditional Love

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Unconditional Love giclée print (13″x19″) now on sale.

Starting on January 1st, I started doing a daily oil pastel, and now I have more than 300: still lifes portraits, self-portraits, street scenes, wild animals, some cats, and many dogs.

I love painting dogs. I love dogs. I began painting only dogs I knew, using the photographs I had taken. When you have to do one painting per day, having a dog sit for you is not practical; painting Yoshi took me over a week.

One of the few dogs who has had the patience to sit for me.

 

Soon, I started having people request that I paint their dog, and sometimes the animal had passed away, so I started working from photos that other people had taken. Nevertheless, I ask for several photos from different angles and I want to hear how the owners feel about them. It’s important for me to feel like I know the animal I’m painting.

I love all the dogs I’ve painted. I’ve fallen in love with them. And now you can love them too. The limited edition UNCONDITIONAL LOVE giclée print is available for $75, signed by the artist.

I’m in the process of turning this collection into a calendar and a memory game. If you’re interested in knowing more, please sign up to our mailing list.

If you’d love to have one of these beautiful animals on your wall, signed 12×12″ giclée prints are only $75. Original 8×8″ oil pastels are $500.

Please contact me if you would like your dog (or cat) painted. Until the end of 2014, there’s no sitting fee. You only pay if you want to buy the original art and/or a giclée reproduction.

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Looking at Reinhardt

Isaac Hernández. Looking at Reinhardt (At the MoMA). Oil pastel on paper, January 16-23, 2015.

Isaac Hernández. Looking at Reinhardt (At the MoMA). Oil pastel on paper, January 16-23, 2015.

As an observer of life, I’ve always enjoyed looking at people interacting with art. As a photographer, I’ve also photographed these interactions, whenever the museum would allow for photography. I’ve thought about making a book about my museum photographs, but it turns out Elliot Erwitt has already done one: Museum Watching, Phaidon Press, 1999.

As a painter, turning this photograph of a person looking at a painting back into a painting has proven very interesting. On the one hand there’s another layer of separation from the original Abstract Painting, 1963 by Ad Reinhardt (1913-1963), but at the same time, because it’s an oil pastel, it brings the image closer to the original. Reinhardt used very diluted oil paint creating slightly different shades of color within the apparent blackness of the canvas. If the viewer looks at the canvas for long enough, the pupils dilate and one is rewarded with a new experience.

I have to admit that no matter how long you look at this oil pastel, you won’t find anything hidden. Or maybe you will. If you do, please let me know. I took a few photos of the process of creating the above image. For the first few strokes, I would take a photo every time I used a new color. Then I just took a few random photos until it was done. Enjoy.

Looking at Reinhardt, progress. ©2015 Isaac Hernández

Looking at Reinhardt, progress. ©2015 Isaac Hernández

PS. Part of the fun of creating a faux The New Yorker cover is to see the real cover and see how close I came to what the magazine published. In this case I was way off. The New Yorker published Moving Day, by Bruce McCall, to illustrate their move to from 4 Times Square to 1 World Trade Center.

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