Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | Audio

Episode 58: The Family Circus

Comic strips are often a way artists discover the world and their calling. Indie comix artist Lynda Barry loved the Family Circus growing up, and she recently appeared in a Family Circus strip.

Jessica remembers tracing pictures out of Thomas Craven’s 1945 book Cartoon Cavalcade, and in particular Winsor McCay’s surreal Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend. And Michael loved Mad magazine so much he tried making his own version:
I think it was called Sick or Nauseous. I knew that the magazine had to have this combination of drawings and typesetting. Of course, I had no idea where typesetting was from, so I would actually do the drawings, and then put these drawn pages that I would draw with a Bic ballpoint pen into a manual typewriter and then type upon the drawn pages.

Also mentioned:
  • Curbed, Cities light up green in support of Paris climate agreement
  • Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, Letter to President Trump
  • New York Times Magazine, New York Stories all-comics issue
  • Thomas Craven, Cartoon Cavalcade
  • Clare Briggs, Ain’t It a Grand and Glorious Feeling?
  • U.S. Postal Service, Pansies in a Basket stamp
  • Gail Hornstein, Agnes’s Jacket
  • Atlas Obscura, The Wartime Spies Who Used Knitting as an Espionage Tool
  • Jim Russek, Our Town poster for 1988 Lincoln Center Theater production

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    Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Eye and Communications Arts magazine, she is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Jessica received both her BA and MFA from Yale University where she has taught since 1994. In 2013, she won the AIGA medal.

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