March 31, 2015
Art, politics, angels, demons . . . and righteous dogs.

The Presidents Cuomo

Thanks to Josh Benson, Tom McGeveren, Peter Lettre at Capital New York for making this review of NY Governors who became president (as seen through a Cuomo-esque lens) possible. Oh, just because.

All characters played by current pols.

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Van Buren Cuomo 2700

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DeBlasio in Clover

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For my first cover for the redesigned NY Observer, art director Lauren Draper asked for a portrait of the mayor of NY, Bill DeBlasio, feeling triumphant after his signature agenda item, pre-kindergarten for all NY children, passed the legislature. Thanks to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is running THIS year (and maybe again next) this will be done without a tax hike. It is a moment to savor for the new mayor . . . and for our kids.

Here is the genesis of this cover.

Many thanks to Lauren, who would take every sketch and try it in layout for me. There was a rare back-and-forth that resulted in good communication all round.

Also great fun to be on board with David Heasty and Stephanie Wagner of Triboro Design who took the peachy paper and re-imagined it as a mag. This is the third one since the re-D. What they have kept is their appreciation of illustration. Ken Kurson EIC, and Jared Kushner Publisher very responsible for that and so much else.


The first idea was to have BDB huge behind a small desk. Not quite right.

BDB Bust

Then there was the BDB rearing back with a big smile and a blackboard with my bit of copy on it. This was approved and then edited. The copy would be more straightforward and have my line in at the end.

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Then there was this finished sketch sent to Lauren via cell phone camera.

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Later on, I sent a more finished image. Thanks to Lauren this is the first sense I had of how this might look.

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Here, then, is the cover that will be on stands tomorrow. Illustration is a hardwork/greatfun thing.

The Click-Through

Here’s a tribute to the use of illustration as infographic; communicating information about an issue or a character directly and powerfully through drawings and paintings. In my recent travels I have been working at this in different ways. 5BoehnerCaughtFinal Here’s a nicely handled click-through by The Washington Post. See it HERE. On the first Debt Ceiling Crisis. The art moves easily (no video commercials to disrupt the flow).  Not very much opinion expressed here actually. It’s mostly illustrated reportage via the Post staff.


This chart on gun-influenced members of Congress for The American Prospect. It was a spread that linked portraiture and data.


King Duffy and Gibson


Here’s a limited scroll down. A larger project: the story of the first Jews in New Amsterdam, for Tablet.

2014 Oscars 8 Woody

A recent piece for the LA Times on the Oscars. HERE’s how it looks online.

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The Mad Men of Climate Change Denial took the meme of the TV show, added these galoots and then data.

Mad Men 2

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Last July’s NY Times OpEd page (here was the working layout) on signers of the Declaration of Independence. I did the research and the drawing. Matt Dorfman helped tremendously in organizing the page. Then the famous Times fact checkers came in. Hail to the Chiefs.  Here’s the online slide show.


Here’s Mitt Romney delivering his acceptance speech at the 2012 GOP Convention. I covered both conventions live for The Nation, sending in a drawing every 15 minutes or so. By the end of the week we had posted about 156 pieces of illustration: HERE



Sweet Georgia

Still buzzing with the good times of my trip to Athens, Georgia and the great folks at The University of Georgia last Thursday. My talk as the 2014 Visiting Jack Davis Distinguished Visting Artist was part of a rollicking couple of days, seeing the sites, and, most importantly, meeting the students of the program of Prof. Alex Murawski. Thanks to him and the whole gang for making this a memorable trip and a great honor.

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The main event is held in honor of Jack Davis, who moved cartoon and caricature into the realm of serious illustration. Here’s my sketch of Jack as presented to his family Thursday night.


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The poster for my talk.


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Athens is all in bloom. To a spring-starved New Yorker this was magic!


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Alex Murawski, professor and chair of the Davis event, in his office, with many of his illustrations on the walls. Any fan of the art will know Alex’s work

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Thanks, Alex, for taking this social democrat to a Chick-fil-A!  Truett, the founder, is cast in bronze, cluelessly gaping into his  soda. I sullied it for him.

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With cartoonist and colleague Patrick Dean. He held the pad while I discussed a basic concept of caricature: get the big shapes down and the rest will come. I showed how Bush was a diamond, Nixon, an eggplant, Carter and Obama,  lightbulbs, Clinton a teardrop, etc.

SB in Tutorial

During class I did one-on-one discussions about student’s art. Affected here by something a student said (can’t remember what).

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This evolved into a draw-off. It was all a blur after that!

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Emmy and Kaitlyn provided me with two of the many wonderful quick sketches (I have them all!).

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The night of the lecture opened with a group of slides of artists who have preceded me in this honor. Especially happy to see the Joe Ciardiellos. I’m such a fan!

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At the ceremony I got the boot: the Jack Davis Visiting Artist Award. It’s a bronze version of the Jack Davis shoe; a perfect distillation of the Davis oeuvre. That night Jack Davis himself called during dinner. In his 90th year, he sounded hale and hearty and was very generous. I tried to express how we all felt about him. The whole table erupted in applause, which he could hear very clearly. A great thrill all round. Thanks to everyone at the University and to Jack Davis for a lifetime of inspiration.