October Cover Story

Designing the October cover image leads us to a classic children's book and a superhero cartoonist.


Sometimes the cover story traces a direct line between two points, an easy connection between concept and completion.

Not so for October.

The job started out easy enough — in fact, the cover was done in two days. But then editor Linda Baker shifted gears, and what had been the cover story — The New Philanthropy — moved inside, and the food waste feature became the cover story.

I was back to an empty page.

Linda very much wanted the cover headline to be “Wasted.”

So I batted out a few thoughts that were singularly and collectively unimpressive.

Octfoodwaste lineup 

 Ramona 300Linda herself had a vision of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona, who in one classic story takes bites of apples and casually tosses them aside. She really liked Ramona’s devil-may-care attitude, and wanted a design that was similarly lighthearted and funny.

I worried that juxtaposing the word “Wasted” with an image of someone snacking on piles of food would signal “stoners.” I also didn’t want to literally make reference to Ramona, having just illustrated a cover in homage to Saul Steinberg two months earlier.

We hammered out what the image should be — a young man blithely gorging on food and tossing half-eaten morsels into a compost bucket. That compost bucket would be key, communicating unequivocally that the story was about wasted food —not wasted people.

 

But I’m no cartoonist. The solution was to hire — a super hero comic book artist (who also happens to be my brother-in-law).


mark gilliansuperhero 

That would be Mark Conahan, who draws a comic series called Hopeless Old Men On Skateboards. He is shown above modeling one of the costumes from his daughter Gillian’s book, The Hero’s Closet: Sewing for Cosplay and Costuming. 

 MCcomic lineup

Mark made a few rapid sketches, and we were able to refine the image and its content quickly. Would that it were always so easy!

Oct MC sketches lineup

 

Joan McGuire

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Get our original content straight to your inbox.
Enter your email below to sign up for our weekly enewsletter