January 17, 2018
Art, politics, angels, demons . . . and righteous dogs.

A Hard Week’s Night

Here’s my excellent Election Night adventure.

A few days before Election Day Nation editor Roane Carey called and asked me to prepare a few cover ideas.  The Nation goes to press on Tuesday as a rule, but this week would be an exception. My cover would be due on Weds morning. We all strongly suspected a decisive win for Obama but had to prepare for other possibilities. So here’s m]=the process leading up to midnight. All Sandy related:

1. Obama walks across the waves with a clueless Thurston Howell Romney below. This was felt by Roane and me to be off the beam. Nobody thought Obama walked on water anymore!

Next I came up with the idea of him  rowing to safety on Chris Christie’s belly. As Sandy was still the big story, this made sense and was the working idea up till about midnight Tues-Weds.


For the “Romney Wins” idea, he’s the cloud in the sky causing the money sh*tstorm drowning Obama. Luckily, not used.

There was even an idea in case the results were in Rovian-limbo (or Limbaugh). Again, whew!

At midnight I came back to the studio and called Roane and said that I thought we needed to lose Christie. At that hour, the moment of stunning victory, who was thinking of Christie? I suggested we lose him and go with a more simple and perhaps elegant solution, where the wave is gracefully returning Obama to the White House. Luckily Roane was up late and this was approved by 1 AM.

I was shooting for a 10 AM finish. Went down for  bagel at 7:30 and hot an email from him: “Is this ready now?”. Uchhhhh. Still conscious, but barely, I said: we need 10:00!!! I sent a progress photo of where I was. He was cool with 10. And all worked out. I’d have to say the hardest part of the whole thing was lying on the couch in the studio, waiting for word that neither Roane, nor Katrina vanden Heuvel, nor Mitlon Glkaser, nor Sue Walsh wanted any changes. Staying in twilight, not sleeping too hard. How do you do that? Anyway, everyone liked this and off it went . . . on  time, and is the current Nation cover. Thanks to all of the above. Especially Roane. It was a great night for the US, the world and this happy artist. Even that bagel was excellent.




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  1. Bob Row says:

    A great story for a great night! (and a great cover too).
    I frequently get a 10 p.m. phone call to change the subject of the cover of a weekly supplement of the daily I work for, named “Debates”. So, I usually go to bed after 3 a.m. At least, I don’t have to send a draft for approval after discussing the idea on the phone.
    We are the emergency paramedics of the graphic industry (as long as there is still one).

  2. Steve says:

    Thanks Rob. I always feel during moments like this that this is what I am in this for. It is art connected at the hip to journalism; staying on top of a changing story and then being put to the test of altering the project as the story changes. And in this case history was changing.

  3. ALEX MCCRAE says:

    I don’t know if you guys are fans of South Park, but in the spirit of quick deadline turnarounds, I was totally gobsmacked by the airing of their “Obama Wins” episode on the evening of Nov. 7th, one day after the election voting.

    The South Park folks must have been pretty confident that Obama would beat out Romney in the final reckoning, but in such a closely contested run-up to the finale, it was with an incredibly bold article of faith that they went ahead with an Obama-winning narrative.

    The episode was hilarious (as per usual) w/ Cartman stealing boxes of election ballots from major swing states and secreting them in a defunct South Park Hummer dealership. The devious ‘pudgy one’ was using this underhanded ruse to parlay a ‘sweet ‘deal w/ Chinese movie moguls who were made out to be the impetus behind the recent Disney buyout of Lucas Films. Cartman was demanding a starring role, (I beiieve Luke Skywalker) in the next Star Wars blockbuster, and was using the stolen ballots as an extortion ploy. Priceless stuff.

    Here’s a little online snippet I stumbled upon re/ the super quick production turnaround on this episode, w/ their allowance for a default option if Romney had won.


    Steve, once again, a super clean, engaging, prescient ‘Nation’ cover illo. Congrats!

    (Love your use of negative space, and I think you may have even subliminally worked in the elegant ‘Golden Section” into that cresting-to-victory wave.)

    Looking forward to your next assignment.


  4. Steve says:

    Thank you A. Love those South Park guys. If you can see their Mormon show, it is a masterpiece!

  5. ALEX MCCRAE says:


    I’ve heard nothing but glowing praise* for the “The Book of Mormon” play, the creation of South Park partners in satirical irreverence, Stone and Parker, w/ a major composing assist from “Avenue Q’s” Robert Lopez, rounding out the creative trio.

    It’s super timely that the multi-award-winning play premiers here in L.A. at the storied Pantages Theater tomorrow night, running thru to a finale matinee performance on Nov. 25th.

    On your recommendation, I’m definitely going to try and see this one.

    I’m curious if the angel Moroni comes into play in this production? To this confessed abiding skeptic, and non-Mormon, Angel Moroni and his relationship to John Smith and the whole ‘golden tablets’ deal, are some of the more problematic, hard-to-swallow aspects of established Mormon doctrine.

    (Even some staunch Mormons over the years have apparently questioned whether Moroni is, indeed, a phony— merely conjured up by the fevered imagination, and religious zeal of faith-founder John Smith. Yet most ‘believers’ still accept this ethereal being as an article of faith.)

    I would think that the South Park duo would have had a virtual field day of ‘spoofery’ w/ Smith’s alleged Moroni visitations and the related revelations from the cryptically inscribed ‘golden tablets’.

    But seeing will be believing. And I do intend to check out this production while it plays L.A. It could well be a “masterpiece”, as you put it.

    *Predictably, the views of the those Mormons who actually chose to see the play, were mixed, most tending towards the negative. I’ve heard that a handful of Mormon’s viewers saw some humor and merit in the piece. I’m sure it wouldn’t be Romney’s cup of tea.