Craig Johnson talks to Ralph Steadman about the death of Hunter S. Thompson, paranoid flashes and the "terrible betrayal" of modern politics
"One of the reasons he's fun to work with - he has a really fine, raw sense of horror. By way of exaggeration and selective grotesquery. His view of reality is not entirely normal. Ralph sees through the glass very darkly."More here
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, June 1974
One of the many facets that sets Hunter S. Thompson's 70s works apart from other forms of classic American literature are the growling, snarling, punch-between-the-eyeballs illustrations of Ralph Steadman. Roaring from the pages, his pictures visualise the horrors of corporate America, ripping the surface to reveal the political greed and other grotesqueries that contort and degrade the human forms within his pictures. With his method of isolating and focusing on a physical idiosyncrasy, he explodes his subjects, capturing a hidden truth that was hitherto unseen; it's as if Steadman sees with the naked eye of a schizophrenic.
Bloodsucking business men, venal politicians, dollar-drugged gamblers, archetypal beholders of negation and power transmogrified into grinning reptilia, squarking sharp-beaked birds, gorgons of sheer inhuman greed. In the ferocious stroke of a few simple lines he trans-atlantically expresses all the negative facets of the human condition to a terrifyingly hilarious degree. If we think of the old metaphor of the artist's pen being a sword, then Steadman's scribe is nuclear.