The great British illustrator Ralph Steadman turns 78 today, May 15, 2014. From his beginnings as a brutally unforgiving satirist and caricaturist, through the work of his most enduring fame in the 1970s with Hunter S. Thompson and Rolling Stone magazine, to his present day work painting extinct birds and designing beer labels for Flying Dog Brewery, Steadman has produced some of the most distinctive and ferocious art ever to break through to mass culture.
Obviously there are thousands of brilliant Steadman images I could link, but as that’s not practical, I defer to the VAST portfolio and in-depth bio that can be found at cartoons.ac.uk, and, naturally, his own site. The comprehensive documentary, For No Good Reason, is finally going to be catchable in the US very soon. It was seen in the BFI London Film Festival in 2012 and the Toronto Independent Film Festival in 2013, and has had a few American screenings, most recently at SXSW. It’s already playing in NYC, and more screening dates can be found here.
The BBC doc below, 1978’s Fear and Loathing in Gonzovision, follows Steadman and Thompson on a trip through the USA. (It can also be found under the title “Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood” as a bonus feature on the Criterion edition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, if you’re just dying to own it.)
Here’s the For No Good Reason trailer. I know it’s a trailer’s job to make a film look good, but whatever, this looks really damn good.
Lastly, I thought this was cool and it had what seemed to me a ridiculously low number of views: a Steadman interview for the Economist. Have fun watching him start a bird painting with a barbaric splatter.