Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Stripping Ayn Rand

Every so often I re-read parts of the Notorious Ayn Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED as a kind of verbal jolt. I regard her writing as a drug-fueled fantasy (which it really is, as she was on amphetamines when she wrote it) guaranteed to cause turmoil no matter who reads it. I don't agree with her politics, her psychology is just plain wrong, her economics are loony, and her writing mostly dreadful. But her "cinematography" and her characters and her descriptions are a thrilling apocalypse of Dieselpunk magnificence, roaring trains and oil fires and explosions in the same scenes as glamorous babes in evening dresses at evil dinner parties. 

As an illustrator I have always wanted to set Rand in a graphic novel or at least a comic book sequence. I did manage to do a graphic novel-style readout of the first chapter of ATLAS which was published here in 2009. But the copyrights on Rand's work are, as you might suspect given the fanaticism of the Rand fan groups, inviolate. So you won't see any longer attempts at illustration from me, though I think still-picture fan art is OK. 

Back in the 1980s I did two comic-strip style treatments of a moment in a Rand book, one from ATLAS and one from THE FOUNTAINHEAD. They were done in the style of one of the greatest masters of black-and-white comic book art, Alex Toth. The two characters are Ragnar, the philosophical pirate, and Henry Rearden, the steel industrialist. If Rearden looks a bit like Paul Newman, that is intentional.

Another reason I read Rand is to boost my self-esteem in the cold dark winter, so I can drug myself with the illusion that I am one of Ayn Rand's towering geniuses on whom the world rests, which will give me the motivation to crank out more inspiring pictures of wine barrels and volcanoes.

Ink on illustration board, about 9 1/2" x 3 1/2", early to mid 1980s.

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