Goin' Down, Moses- Keeping Busy Part 8
I’ve had great fun in my career playing with images from the archives of Norman Rockwell, finding his Stephen Spielberg-ish vision of America rich material to upend, respectfully, with some bite. Gustave Dore influenced me even before I was aware of him specifically, as many a weekend I went to the library in my little blue collar town of Roselle to look through David Levine’s caricatures for The New York Review of Books. Levine’s drawings were steeped in the tradition of Dore, Grandville, and that period of satirical art.
This is a long way round intro getting to the illustration for the current ROLLING STONE, “Marco Rubio- What Went Wrong?”. Art director Mark Maltais emailed me with little copy but a general theme addressing Rubio’s collapse as a great GOP hope and antidote to Trump’s ascendancy in the Republican primaries. Normally I can wait for more copy to come in before getting started but I was heading out to Wyoming for a week of receptions and presentations at the Brinton Museum the day after deadline, and felt that some proactive sketching of ideas would assist my mission not to be working up to the 12th hour before heading to the airport. Well, it didn’t work out quite as hoped for; there were many rethinks and adjustments as more copy from the writer, Janet Reitman, started drifting in. He was less a GOP Don Quixote and more a Moses carrying the establishment tablets down from the mountain rejected by the folks below worshiping their golden calf. I drew Marco so many times had there been time I might have tried doing the finish with my eyes closed. Thankfully, in retrospect, that option was out of the question and, as he seems to be political toast- an empty suit containing little substance but a tired sales pitch story- may never be put to the test. Frequent redraws can sometimes create a visual exhaustion with the subject. In this circumstance that was not the case; the caricature just had more time to marinate and get better (IMHO). The approved sketch, based on a classic Dore engraving from his illustrations for the Bible, of Moses coming down the mountain, was a very satisfying solution. I’ve always loved the illustration and have spoofed it many times- it can address any number of topics because it is such a solid image with gravity that can be satirized to whatever degree necessary. This was probably the first time, however, that I portrayed the Moses character delivering an unwanted message.