Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

The Basics:
About Emdashes | Email us

Before it moved to The New Yorker:
Ask the Librarians

Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


Sempé Fi (On Covers): Peace Is Always Beautiful

Filed under: Sempé Fi   Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

7-6-09 Mark Ulriksen Sanctuary.jpg

Pollux writes:

The world is going to hell. Cabdrivers from Patagonia to Palau will tell you that; it’s part of their job to do so. What with Honduran coups, California crisis IOUs, bloody riots in Iran and Xinjiang, and the demise of the only person who could really moonwalk, one just wants to duck under the covers and wait for the all-clear.

But not all is bleak. There are little places of peaces around the world. As Barbara Tuchman writes in A Distant Mirror, her study on the fourteenth century, “starving peasants in hovels live alongside prosperous peasants in featherbeds. Children are neglected and children are loved… No age is tidy or made of whole cloth…”

In the synthetic cloth of our own age, the double-aughts or aughties, we have to sew in our own little patches of tranquility. Mark Ulriksen’s composition for the July 6 and 13, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, called “Sanctuary,” depicts such a patch of peace.

His female subject has slung a hammock and created for herself a makeshift tropical paradise in the middle of the city. It may be Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon; maybe she has taken a day off from work with an excuse about the flu (of the regular, rather than swine, variety).

She’s settled into a comfortable position; one leg hangs off the hammock. An arm is tucked behind her head. We have no idea what she’s reading but it must be good. She’s dressed comfortably; there’s a pitcher of ice tea nearby and a cat, perhaps her own, shaded by an umbrella.

Ulriksen’s rooftop is filled with color: the red and white stripes, the purple top she’s wearing, the green palm trees and vegetation, the lime green and eggshell blue deckchairs. Behind her the city, painted in earth tones, looms, but not threateningly so. Ulriksen’s city is not the darker city of Eric Drooker, for example. His city’s earth tones evoke a summer sea strand, a busy beach -a vertical, pillared beach.

Ulriksen’s covers, done in his distinctive acrylic style of intentionally imperfect lines and perspectives, occasionally hit at some political target. Most recently, Ulriksen depicted John McCain as a Monopoly-playing Little Lord Fauntleroy-type figure, but if we go further back, we have Clinton dancing with Dole during the 1996 election; a comment on love and all of its forms; and that favorite subject of cartoonists and illustrators: a gun-toting Cheney.

For this summer cover, however, he’s giving us, and himself, a break from political tussles. After all the world has gone through, and has yet to go through, we could all spend a moment in a sanctuary of our own choosing.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, it may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Thanks for waiting.)

2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree