The Jokes Over

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The Jokes Over

Ralph Steadman was born in 1936. He started as a cartoonist and through the years diversified into many fields of creativity. He has illustrated such classics as “Alice in Wonderland”, “Treasure Island” and “Animal Farm”.

His own books include the lives of Sigmund Freud and Leonardo da Vinci and “The Big I Am”, the story of God. With American writer Hunter S. Thompson he collaborated in the birth of GONZO journalism, the definitive book in the genre being “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, which was made into a feature film. He is also a printmaker. His prints include a series of etchings on writers from William Shakespeare to William Burroughs.

“One of the reasons he’s fun to work with – he has a really fine, raw sense of horror. By way of exaggeration and selective grotesquery. His view of reality is not entirely normal. Ralph sees through the glass very darkly.”

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, June 1974

One of the many facets that sets Hunter S. Thompson’s 70s works apart from other forms of classic American literature are the growling, snarling, punch-between-the-eyeballs illustrations of Ralph Steadman. Roaring from the pages, his pictures visualise the horrors of corporate America, ripping the surface to reveal the political greed and other grotesqueness that contort and degrade the human forms within his pictures. With his method of isolating and focusing on a physical idiosyncrasy, he explodes his subjects, capturing a hidden truth that was hitherto unseen; it’s as if Steadman sees with the naked eye of a schizophrenic.

Bloodsucking business men, venal politicians, dollar drugged gamblers, archetypal beholders of negation and power transmogrified into grinning reptilia, squarking sharp-beaked birds, gorgons of sheer inhuman greed. In the ferocious stroke of a few simple lines he trans-atlantically expresses all the negative facets of the human condition to a terrifyingly hilarious degree. If we think of the old metaphor of the artist’s pen being a sword, then Steadman’s scribe is nuclear.

AGENT B

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