Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ayn Rand old style

Back in the old days, in the early 20th century and before, upscale books usually had illustrations. Many of them in the late 1800s through the 1930s were illustrated in a slightly sketchy pen work style which was typified in the work of Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the "Gibson Girl." Many of the literary works as well as pictures were social commentary and satire on the lives, romances, and foolishness of the upper classes. 

As an illustration experiment I decided to adapt the Gibson style to one of my favorite fantasy books, "Atlas Shrugged" by the notorious Ayn Rand. Note that I call this a fantasy, because that's what it is. And it also contains a whole lot of sarcastic social commentary that many readers miss because they are too busy being either outraged by it or treating it as True Believer gospel. 

In this little piece, we see three of the main characters, from left to right Hank Rearden the steel industrialist, Dagny Taggart the railroad executive, and Francisco D'Anconia, the mining potentate. Both men were Dagny's lovers though not at the same time. The quote is from one of Rand's tense party scenes where the various characters interact, behave badly, or lecture us about the importance of money. The quote is typical of Rand's convoluted dialog style. "I wish I could permit myself to like you as much as I do," comes in the knowledge that the other guy was Dagny's ex-lover, as well as the plot device that D'Anconia is pretending to be a worthless playboy rather than an industrial powerhouse because he is part of the plot against the System. 

I borrowed the old style to illustrate these idealized characters, putting Rand into the world of "society novel" rather than libertarianoid propaganda. This was the only time I ever tried that, until I re-worked Rand's text into a sample graphic novel chapter back in 2009.

Dip pen and ink on sketchbook page, about 7 1/2" x 4 1/2", June 1981.

This is posting number 2000 for "Art By-Products." I guess that is some sort of milestone but if I allow myself to think about all these posts and the numbers that come later I will drive myself crazy so this is all I will say.

No comments: