When doing projects on books it is often the case that we have to wait a while before the book is published and we can post about the illustrations. I am happy to say that CRAZY SH*T PRESIDENTS SAID is finally out. It went through several incarnations in terms of copy and categories before I got the final okay from art director Corinda Cook of Running Press to go ahead with the drawings. It was a pleasure working with her and once we had a pretty solid idea of how the copy was going to fall into categories it made the illustrating part much easier.
First and foremost the illustrations were going to concentrate on caricatures of a healthy selection of presidents, along with a nice handful being situations based on the noteworthy sayings. I had one two-page spread inside that was to be something of a group image of presidents past and present interacting. Rather than using an identifiable setting as the glue holding these centuries of presidents together - like the Oval Office or a campaign train car, which I had done as covers for earlier books on presidential anecdotes-, it seemed a good idea to use an activity as the solution. Norman Rockwell’s famous painting, “The Gossips” came to mind almost immediately as a great image to spoof. The image would kill two birds with one stone by portraying a plausible activity- passing a rumor- within the context of a historical timeline of the presidency. Corinda was on board with the concept immediately. It worked very nicely.
I was given several pages of memorable quotes pertaining to different topics from which to choose from. The material, which ranged from funny to jaw dropping in terms of audacity, pretty much guaranteed creating humorous situations. The one challenge was pacing them so that they could be distributed with a nice flow throughout the book. I did my best to avoid the more famous, or infamous, quotes and sought to illustrate those we are not as familiar with- if at all. The philosophy to the caricatures was from a standpoint of whimsy and humor rather than excoriation, looking for the element of character in the expressions from the stacks of visual historical reference, and to just let the drawings speak for themselves.
It’s really quite a remarkable book a very enjoyable reference source, and definitely a great gift book. Made me wonder how many more howlers were left out in editing. The observations by presidents on other presidents alone is worth the price of admission. There are a number of attributable quotes on topics that are more shocking and sad than funny. All in all one is reminded that our democracy has survived through more muddled and ineffective administrations than we would dare imagine, and that even the giants had giant flaws.