The lines of thought on the cover gave us our own lines of thought about the issue and the image.
The article began presenting itself in the spring when Jennifer Hayden was scheduled for a live presentation at Labyrinth Books in Princeton. We had hoped to do a feature on her, but the pandemic stopped the event and any story follow up. But she and her cartoons chronicling a difficult time in her life remained in our thoughts.
Then, when we saw that museums and galleries were forced to close, we decided to open up our pages as a gallery for artists who felt an urge to communicate with the public and began our “Art of the Quarantine” series.
One of those artists was painter and retired editorial cartoonist Bill Hogan whose satirical illustrations playfully and colorfully suddenly made the grim news around us lighter and more bearable.
Meanwhile, in our files, there were notes for a story on two cartoonists whose creative process involved a weekly mail exchange of images and critiques. One of the artists was occasional U.S. 1 cartoonist Ken Wilkie.
The thought of connecting the cartoonists came over the summer when prominent Princeton-based cartoonist Henry Martin died at the age of 94.
And while it would be interesting to write about Martin’s art and contributions, it suddenly became more important to celebrate what Martin and all cartoonists are all about — creating the image.
With that in mind, we asked these artists to share some thoughts and images about the art of creating cartoons and soon discovered a story wanting to be told.
But before finding it on page 6, let’s look at the cover. In addition to the self-portraits of each artist, Bill Hogan’s fanciful yet complex image says a lot on its own. Says Hogan: “I was going through [Bergen] Record art . . . and came across ‘Hear no evil…’ that was published in The Record in the ’90s, and I thought I could use this drawing for the Covid-19 debacle if I added orange/yellow color to the hair only. I didn’t want to make the hat with stars, red, white, and blue as I thought the color would compete with the orange hair, so I didn’t add the RWB color.
“Where the ‘King’ is drawn as a funny cartoon, the ‘hat’ was/is more serious and should have that feeling. Surely Trump doesn’t listen, hear, and kept quiet (talk) about the virus since January, that I didn’t know at the time. I added the virus symbols and loaded this on FB with little interest.”
Interestingly, like a lot of thoughtful cartoon expressions, they become a lot more interesting when we finally understand what is happening around us.
And so do the hidden people who create the images that help us see.