A cover switch

Sometimes being current and topical comes at a price, even in the New Yorker offices.

Bill Joyce, illustrator, was asked a few months ago to create a cover for the Mardi Gras edition of The New Yorker. He did, but it was bumped for a timelier cover featuring George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in a Brokeback Mountain-esqe love embrace, complete with Cheney blowing smoke from an (assumedly) misfired shotgun.

While it’s a clever (though tired) take on politics, news, and pop culture, it’s not as powerful as Joyce’s original cover. In fact, I’d be willing to say we’d all have benefited greatly from a post-Katrina Mardi Gras much more than we’d have with, say, another Brokeback Mountain joke.

Anyway, here are some of Joyce’s comments on his cover:

The image did what I’d hoped. It made people from here sad and proud at the same time.

I was hoping it would, I don’t know, somehow help. Help call attention to our plight. Help people understand us.

Then Dick Cheney shot his friend instead of a bird.

A more topical cover was cobbled together. A clever twist on Cheney’s folly.

I’ve had covers at the New Yorker bumped before. That’s just part of the game. But this one really mattered. The hurricanes have turned the people of Louisiana into activists. We no longer have the luxury of emotional distance with this story.

Louisiana had received its share of coverage lately I was told. They tried to find a place for it inside the magazine. Everyone said they were sympathetic. But nothing happened.
So we’ve been shunted aside again.

Our collective sorrow and tragedy mattered less than a single hunting accident.

I really had hoped that compassion would win out over clever.

Mr. Cheney’s friend is thankfully alive. Meanwhile we’re still finding bodies in New Orleans.

You can read the entire article, with picture, at Cartoon Brew.

You can also read a couple more comments, with the Bush/Cheney cover, at emdashes (a blog about The New Yorker.)

Courtesy The Millions.

This was lovingly handwritten on February 26th, 2006