Long before fine dining in Philadelphia took place in makeshift shacks made of forklift palette wood and plastic tarpaulins haphazardly situated on the pavements and streets outside of the actual brick-and-mortar restaurants, people read newspapers. They were actual newsprint newspaper and printed with ink and were available everywhere for a couple of coins, and it was how people got the news. In addition to the news, there was also sports scores, movie listings, comic strips, celebrity gossip and horoscopes. People enjoyed the paper whether it was broadsheet or tabloid. These cheaply printed conglomerations of events and fluff made money back then. When the newspapers made money, they had money to spare on illustrators like yours truly to provide illustrations to break up all of that boring text with cartoons like the one above. The editors and publishers thought it worked. Who was I to argue with them?
It was 1997 and Philadelphia seem to be experiencing a burst of energy as far as nightlife was concerned. Flashy restaurants and watering holes were sprouting up around town and packing patrons in. Philly was no longer a podunk town that rolled up the sidewalks at 6:00 pm once the commuters got the hell out of Dodge upon clocking out of work. There was a vibrant nightlife in the city and The Philadelphia Daily News wanted to report on some of the hotter hot spots in their weekend edition, and they decided to bring me along for the ride as the illustrator. Again, who was I to argue with them?
I don’t remember whether it was my or the editor’s idea to specifically feature illustrations of tattoo parlors, gentlemen’s clubs and martini bars. I don’t think the article was ready for me to read. Writers could work until the last minute, but I could not. I think they gave me a vague notion of what they wanted, and I had fun with it.
This was before I got my first Mac, my first scanner and all of the software that went with it so none of it is digital on my part. It was drawn and inked on hot press water color paper and painted with water colors and color pencils.
I didn’t have internet access yet so I didn’t take it seriously. At that time and in my mind print was still king. I miss that time.