Saturday, May 05, 2007


I love this apocalyptic drawing by John Hendrix, one of the more distinctive voices in the field of illustration today.

In the tradition of Brueghel and Heironymous Bosch, this drawing is dense with symbols and weird iconography. Hendrix implies a larger universe of prophecy and mysticism but he knows enough to stop with mere implication. As Carl Sandburg said, poetry is "the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during that moment."

This is a smart, literate drawing, but Hendrix's graphic images are as strong as his content. He conjures up great symbols such as the train careening downhill and exploding on the bridge as the "pride of man" ( Isaiah 2:17: "The pride of man will be humbled And the loftiness of men will be abased.")

Equally striking is Hendrix's vision of the "axe of God" (from Matthew 3:10)

This drawing has a hundred little clevernesses but like all good art it is more than the sum of its parts. Look at how the components come together for a vertiginous effect: the perspective is all askew, as the earth opens up and the tidal wave with a face rushes over the horizon and the train speeds at an odd angle into the pit. Nice job-- a drawing that makes you think. And laugh.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really loved looking at an enlarged version of the picture to see the details, before reading your comments to see what I could pull out of it on my own. What a wonderful commentary! I like it; very differnt than what you have talked about in the recent past. A little break perhaps?

5/06/2007 7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS I liked the colors. Deceptively simple.

5/06/2007 7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All right. I apologize, I can't help impulsively posting without thinking my thoughts through completely....

Went back to see what I like about the color. The japanese stylized waves look like squid, and they have eyes in the middle! Then there's the pink tile edging, and the corner inserts that remind me of something; a style of art I know from somewhere else. The combination of cartoon quality with, as you mentioned, Bosch is rather delightful. Thank you David!

5/06/2007 7:43 PM  
Blogger lotusgreen said...


5/07/2007 1:01 AM  
Blogger John Hendrix said...

Thanks for the great discussion david. For those who want a closer look it got printing in the current book edition of American Illustration 25.

I do love the compressed graphic space that existed in those Japanese screens. I often lift that device in my work. Yes, I'm borrowing from many in this drawing... including Ware, Bosch and even McCay. (hopefully stealing in most cases. ie: not getting caught)

5/08/2007 12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you the artist? This is a great drawing, although I don't see the Mccay influence.

5/08/2007 9:56 AM  
Blogger John Hendrix said...

McCay would often bend space and fuse many different linear perspectives together. In the more lush panels of Slumberland for example. I mostly use it to serve the graphic heirarchy.

5/08/2007 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, I like the way you draw such deep subjects using a cartoon style. They play off each other well. Are there other comic artists that you like besides McCay?

5/08/2007 1:02 PM  
Blogger John Hendrix said...

I like Christoph Blaine a lot. I read everything Paul Pope puts out. Other usual suspects, Clowes, Burns, Panter, Sandlin. Lookup Samuel Hiti, did a great little book called Tiempos Finales.

5/09/2007 11:32 AM  

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