Exit 2013 Washington Post Magazine
posted: January 6, 2014
2013 was quite a year, wasn't it? Personally it was a very good year for me in many respects. I won't go all internet brag over it, but I acheived some things outside of my professional life that I'm quite proud of. For many though, it was a year of loss, upheaval, shifting ground and shaken foundations. I hope those of you I call friends made it through relatively intact with health and humor.
This was a fun and challenging year end assignment from Beth Broadwater at the Washington Post Magazine. I was already swamped with work when she reached out to check on my availability to do a cover, spread and a handful of spots. At first I thought I couldn't fit all that in with the time allowed, but after seeing some of the names - Rob Ford! Anthony Weiner!! Miley Cyrus!!! - I remembered that this was exactly the kind of assignment that I'd see illustrators like Steve Brodner, C.F. Payne, Drew Friedman, Victor Juhasz pull off that made me want to get into this business. By the way, those names there? The exact opposite of a 25 under 25 type of list. It's more like 5 badasses over 50 who will still be killing it in 25 years. 
What was I saying?
Oh, this was a fun job. Dave Barry's Year in Review. He starts the peice out with a paragraph on how this was the year of, not the Comeback, but the Zombie. When I began sketches Barry hadn't submitted much more than the first couple of paragraphs, so I thought it would be all Zombie Apocalypse. I threw together a couple of roughs for the cover based on that direction.
Beth got back to me saying that the piece left the Zombie theme after the introduction so I'd have to come up with something else for the cover idea. Having not much more to go on, I was momentarily stumped. So I went for a run to clear out my head. At some point when I run these days, my mind always drifts back to what happened ten minutes after I crossed the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. The hugs from my family after I crossed the finish line, followed almost immediately by the loud thud and thick thump you could feel in your chest, the sudden hush falling over the crowd, the quiet anxiety of several hundred fellow finishers walking, limping, staggering as best they could through the corral set up to contain the flow of humanity that came out to celebrate the day's acheivement. I thought how happy I was to have all that ugliness in the rear view mirror and eager to look ahead to new goals, new items to happily check off the list. Then it hit me - "Ugliness in the rear view mirror". Perfect idea for the theme of the Dave Barry piece. I picked up my pace, got home, scribbled a sketch and sent it out. Beth gave me the thumbs up and I was happily drawing away in to the future. A happy ending to a year that had some very ugly scenes.
And how about those Red Sox!
Here's the art for the opening spread below. It looks much better in the layout than all by itself. Lots of work, but zombification makes it easier to smile while digging these ditches.
Thanks again to Beth Broadwater at the Washington Post.
Maria Stephanos January 6, 2014
Can I please stop being the reference model for Kim Jong Un now? Thank you
Dale Stephanos January 6, 2014
It's all about the cheeks baby. At least I didn't ask you to help me out with Rob Ford reference.
Carl Wiens January 6, 2014
Nailed the crack stare, Dale! I've talked to a lot of people happy to see 2013 go, your perspective was truly harrowing. Enjoyed reading this Dale. Nice solution and all the best in the new year!
Tim OBrien January 6, 2014
Ah Maria, Elizabeth has been posing for me for most of my career. She feels your pain. Dale, a great job on both.
Dale Stephanos January 6, 2014
Carl, thanks! Tim, the big difference is that your work is beautiful. Mine is…entertaining. Good thing my girl enjoys laughter.
Victor Juhasz January 6, 2014
These are really super, Dale. You have nailed them all.
Scott Bakal January 7, 2014
Your Ford drugged/weirdo likeness is wonderful! As well as that little touch of people waiting in line at the Apple store stuck in the background. It's always nice to see your work and your likenesses - great job here, Dale! I hope to see you soon!
Steve Brodner January 7, 2014
Truly spooky. These are all dead-on and great fun. Your in-your-face realism is mind-blowing. These images are searing. On a critical note, especially with the Capitol in the background, you'd think you'd get the chance to draw the most ghoulish bunch ever but no, Weiner/Spitzer? New York loser/non-entities? Really? The Post/Barry are playing it WAY too safe. Satire needs to be about the big things as well as the trivia. Anyway, I did these last year so I know the deadline and pressure but Beth is the best and total pleasure to work with. And these are all illustration homeruns. Congrats Dale.
Dale Stephanos January 7, 2014
Victor, Scott, thanks! Steve, Beth sent me some of the issues they ran in previous years. Drew Friedman's and yours in particular made me assume the same expression as Rob Ford wears up at the top of this post.
Rob Howard January 7, 2014
Few things give me as much joy as seeing an artist who, over the years, builds and polishes his talent into something truly outstanding...that's a tribute to the working artist. Best of all, you have never been mean spirited with your caricatures...that's a tribute to the man. Well done, Dale, well done indeed.
David Flaherty January 7, 2014
Killer portraits all.
Dale Stephanos January 7, 2014
Rob, I'm blushing. I assure you, I'm a complete bastard when you get to know me. Really though, I appreciate the kind words, coming from such a huge talent. Thanks you. David, thanks man.
Marc January 8, 2014
Wonderful work as always, Dale. Rob Ford looks like he's about to pop!
Richard Borge January 8, 2014
Dale, your sketches (and finals) are amazing ... very smart, and dead on (no pun) likenesses.
Jody Hewgill January 10, 2014
The rear view mirror is a great solution Dale. Opening spread is so fun. You nailed that Rob Ford portrait and I knows... he just sat very close to me last night. Yikes!