Hamid and Karl

MAY 21, 2010

Two more for ROLLING STONE’s ‘National Affairs’ section.  The Karzai piece, written by Robert Dreyfuss, examined this very difficult character in our efforts in Afghanistan from the standpoint that his intention is to stay in power after we have left and in order to do so, as all good survivors do, he’ll do what is best for himself, even if that means cutting deals with the very groups intending to kill him.  It sets up a conflict of game plans between Karzai and the US.  It was not unsympathetic to Karzai’s game plan for survival.  What it did was put it into different perspective.


“Rove Rides Again”, written by Tim Dickinson, essentially connects the dots and makes the case clear that this odious Pillsbury Doughboy has deftly worked his way around the crumbling RNC, still led by the truly incompetent, and scandal ridden, Michael Steele, creating new fronts for huge collections of donations to “the cause”, all the while keeping his name off the mastheads.  Essentially he’s running the show again.  The traditional RNC is losing vital blood via lost campaign contributions (which also solves the problem of strangling Steele without making it look racially motivated) while Rove’s shadow operations amass their war chests for what they see as their chance to pull  Republican victories in 2010 and in 2012.   As far as I’m concerned, Karl Rove is a warning lesson about what happens to all those weird looking, creepy, socially awkward, and secretly rage filled kids, boys in particular, that sat in your high school class and just radiated bad energy.  They grow up to enter the world of politics, where they make up for all those school year rejections by grasping and finagling, as amorally as possible, for as much power as can be attained.   And sometimes that power attained is pretty impressive.  It’s not a good thing.  It’s just impressive.

My feelings toward Karzai are not as generous as RS's and I originally sought to portray him as a Cheshire cat with claws, scratching the stunned face of Uncle Sam.

Working off sections that highlight Afghanistan, and Karzai in particular, as an uncooperative puppet, the editors wished to see an image addressing that notion. The challenge for me was to make sure that the idea of "Who's in charge here?" got across.

The finish, with the extra middle finger salute from Hamid.

There were enough Star Wars references in the original draft for editorial to want to explore the possibilities of creating an image of Rove as Darth Vader and Steele as Luke with the severed hand. As it's always about who controls the money, which in turn controls the power, I sought to press that in the sketches. In the background, the chinless wonder, and Rove protege, Ed Gillespie.

Why not cut off both hands? Since these sketches never advanced to finish, it seems hard to say for sure that Rove's Mr. Peanut head would have worked as a Darth Vader mask. But I think it would.

No matter. The emphasis shifted to making light of the lesbian bondage night club outing fiasco for the RNC and incorporating that into a disturbing image of Rove and Steele. Actually I was happy with the change in direction. I don't get many opportunities to travel into Cuneo land.

I sort of preferred this image except it wasn't working with the space allotted to the layout. Reference hunting for this piece was very disturbing- my thoughts unable to shake the conclusion that we are a demented species- but also dangerous. My computer was assaulted on one site and I needed tech support to get my internet to work properly again.

The finished image currently at your magazine stands now with a very young Keith Richards on the cover.