Wednesday, April 9, 2014

For No Good Reason


Johnny Depp produced and Directed the documentary "For No Good Reason" about the artist Ralph Steadman which was screened at the Florida Film Festival. The iconic work of Ralph Steadman is some of the most instantly recognizable in the world of modern cartooning. In 1969 he was paired on a magazine assignment with a writer named Hunter S. Thompson to cover the Kentucky Derby. Nothing could have prepared Steadman, the sober Brit, for the havoc-stirring Thompson, but their blend of sensibilities gave birth to what became known as “Gonzo” journalism. The film delves beneath the obvious (albeit incredibly evocative) work Steadman did with Thompson. While the give and take of their friendship certainly helped form his style, it was Steadman’s willingness to go further that truly makes his art stand out. This is most likely what led him to work so closely with William S. Burroughs towards the end of his life. A kaleidoscopic journey with Steadman through the ups and downs of his expansive career, including traveling with Thompson to Africa for the Rumble in the Jungle, his outrage during the Richard Nixon years, or going shooting with Burroughs, this crowd-pleasing documentary is touching, angry, and weird—all in equal measure. Fifteen years in the making, it’s sure to give insight into a man who has used his talents to challenge the status quot in ways most illustrators are never able to touch.

I went into this screening with no idea that the film would be about one of my all time idols. Steadman truly believed that his work could help change the world.  His edgy and evocative images show the darker side of just about every public official while showcasing man's inhumanity to his fellow man.  Steadman views authority as the mask of violence.He found his voice and used it as a weapon.

The whole idea of Gonzo Journalism was new to me but it has so much appeal. Basically the artist would be sent to an event to document the proceedings. Then the artist and writer would become the story. This is how "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" was developed. Author Hunter Thompson  went to Las Vegas with a lawyer and the trip became a kaleidoscopic binge of drug abuse that warped their perceptions resulting in very twisted imagery and verse. Only Ralph Steadman could illustrate this warped world view. It felt entirely appropriate that I was documenting my joy at discovering this film as I threw down lines and splashes of color.

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