The New Yorker Cover That Wasn’t

This story is more about illustration than cartoons, but Bill Joyce is a familiar face in animation nowadays. He was the production designer of Fox’s ROBOTS (I worked with him on the film’s ‘art of’ book) and his children’s book A DAY WITH WILBUR ROBINSON is being turned into Disney’s upcoming CG feature MEET THE ROBINSONS. Joyce, who is a native Louisianan and still lives there, had drawn a cover and written a story for the NEW YORKER magazine about the Katrina hurricane tragedy. Both the story and cover got bumped from this week’s issue because of vice-president Dick Cheney’s recent hunting escapades. Here is Bill’s story about the NEW YORKER cover that wasn’t:

DICK CHENEY SHOT HIS FRIEND BUT HE KILLED OUR COVER.
I was asked some months back to do a New Yorker Cover depicting some aspect of how New Orleans was dealing with Mardi Gras in the post Katrina world.

I’ve done occasional covers for the New Yorker since 1994 and since I am a native Louisianan and still live here they hoped I’d have an informed perspective on the tragedy and its aftermath.

My schedule has been crazed. The movie business demands all you’ve got and more. But this was a labor of love and something I felt I had to do.

Coming up with a concept that tempered my rage with some hope was not easy, but I got inspiration from an old photograph of Mardi Gras in the ’30′s by J. Guttman, called the” The Game”. It’s a wonderful, eerie image of New Orleans and its curious magic.

The editors were very pleased with the results. The proof looked great. Some friends cried when I showed it to them.

The image did what I’d hoped. It made people from here sad and proud at the same time.

I was hoping it would, I don’t know, somehow help. Help call attention to our plight. Help people understand us.

Then Dick Cheney shot his friend instead of a bird.

A more topical cover was cobbled together. A clever twist on Cheney’s folly.

I’ve had covers at the New Yorker bumped before. That’s just part of the game. But this one really mattered. The hurricanes have turned the people of Louisiana into activists. We no longer have the luxury of emotional distance with this story.

Louisiana had received its share of coverage lately I was told. They tried to find a place for it inside the magazine. Everyone said they were sympathetic. But nothing happened.

So we’ve been shunted aside again.

Our collective sorrow and tragedy mattered less than a single hunting accident.

I really had hoped that compassion would win out over clever.

Mr. Cheney’s friend is thankfully alive. Meanwhile we’re still finding bodies in New Orleans.

Here’s the cover. I hope you can use it to keep the story of our troubles alive.

New Yorker cover by Bill Joyce
(click on cover for larger version)