I would like to write a little something about my picture “King Pest” which is on the cover of 301.4. It is an illustration for Edgar Allan Poe’s darkly comic story about a plague, two sailors, and a group of remarkable characters who each had one of his or her features (nose, head, ears, etc.) distorted (enlarged) by the pervasive plague. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of pictures I have made in my sixty-year career, I consider it, by far, the best. If my house was burning to the ground, I would grab this picture (which is framed and hanging over the washing machine) and run into the yard. Then it’s back in the house for the wife.
I consider it the best because I’ve been striving all my life to create a symbiotic relationship between cartoons and abstract art in my work and this picture has achieved some of the balance I’ve been looking for. Not perfect but . . . getting a bit closer.
I have illustrated quite a few of my favorite Poe works . . . “The Conqueror Worm,” X-ing a Paragrab, The Literary Life of Thingum Bob Esq., “Angel of the Odd,” “Hop-Frog,” etc. Between my editorial assignments, I enjoy illustrating pieces of literature that I enjoy. I’ve tried Kafka, Sandburg, Melville, Balzac, but have not had the success I have had with Poe. Poe resonates with me and somehow his stories allow my cartoon style to work and meld with them.
I have recently illustrated a book called Mocha Dick: The Legend and Fury written by Brian Heinz. It’s the story of the real Moby Dick . . . the whale that inspired Melville’s masterpiece. This book also comes close to what I’ve been trying to achieve in the area of semiabstract cartooning.
I’m discovering that the world of books is becoming more and more appealing to this old newspaper cartoonist.