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An American Pope

FEBRUARY 26, 2013

Recently I was asked by the Washington Post to do an illustration of a non-specific, imagined American Pope. 
Pope Benedict's surprising retirement from being the Pope has been a shock and fuels speculation of whether the Catholic Church might step into the modern world and attempt to address issues that have kept the tenets of the Church and the beliefs and practices of it's followers on different pages for decades.  Most American catholics practice birth control, want the church to stop hiding sexual misconduct and even allow women to become priests.
I doubt the cardinals in Rome will see that a superpower is the country of origin of a leader of the Catholic Church, but it could reconnect millions back to the church in the Western Hemisphere. 
When I was pitched this assignment I immediately saw this image in my head.  I have done a few illustrations along this line in the recent past about the catholic Church;  A cover for Time and a cover of Der Spiegel.  My sketches were pursued with a strong sense that my first choice was best.
Thankfully the AD agreed and I as happy as this American Pope that they went with it.
Sadly, I doubt those cardinals in Rome will agree.
Tried to see if this one would work. An homage to my Time cover but a bit too easy an image. I thought that this would be about the American temperament, not jingoistic pride.

When I speak of temperament, I think of the jovial Cardinal Dolan of New York. He's been floated as a possible candidate. I wanted to capture his boisterous nature in my imagined pope but not make it a portrait of him.
This was my idea when pitched but I thought the hat AND the flag went too far. It ends up being a costume illustration. Funny hat. However, I did like obscuring the eyes...
In the end, this is what I saw, the rest just tells who he is.

Happy Trails.