Could anyone else have captured the surreal chaos of the 70’s with such lucid clarity like Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman? No, I don’t think so. And I certainly don’t know anyone who came close.
And, I fully understand the irony of describing them with the phrase: “lucid clarity.”
But sometimes that's what it takes, to see things clearly, and to satirize with a lasting punch.
When I think back to the books that shaped me - that shaped my worldview and my love for good writing- Fear and Loathing is right up there along with Slaughterhouse Five and The White Album. But there’s one very key thing that Fear and Loathing had that no other book of that time, or few ever since, had and that’s the genius illustration work of someone like Ralph Steadman.
Jesus it’s good. It’s an acid trip on the page...just like Thompson’s prose.
“I’m a savage satirist…and the more savage the better,” says Steadman in this mini doc.
He’s caught the madness in this world better than anyone that I’m aware of and with such immediately-identifiable style. And not just as a "gonzo artist" with Hunter S. Thompson, I'm talking today too.
For whatever it reason it took me nearly two decades of fucking around on the internet to type his name into that search bar. What a waste!
The trove of findings is so rich though. There’s this video of him live-drawing Studio 360’s Kurt Andersen. This vintage footage of him. And of course this great more-recent look at him making imaginary birds.
I’m still just simultaneously totally in love with his work and thrown-by it too. There are no mistakes in Steadman's art. He’s totally in the flow. We should all learn something from that, as well as his total contempt for those that abuse power.