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Clay Bennet and his Peace Talks Escher-esque cartoon

I posted news earlier about Clay Bennett winning this year’s Lurie Award. I hadn’t seen his winning cartoon before today and thought there had to be a story behind it, so I pinged Clay to see if there was. Sure enough there is. A good example of serendipity mixed with deadline pressure.

Here’s what he told me (see the cartoon at the bottom of this page):

I was having a pretty rough day and couldn’t come up with much of anything. I’m guessing it was near 4:00 in the afternoon, so the pressure of a 6:00 deadline was really starting to bear down on me.

I had a rough sketch (drawn on a piece of scratch paper) of a standard peace talks table with a chair placed on either end. Like all of the other concepts that day, the idea was going nowhere, so I tossed the drawing to the other side of my desk and went to work on something else. When I glanced at the sketch a bit later, the image was upside-down. I noticed that even though the legs of the table were now facing upward, as were the two chairs, the perspective of the table itself (the rectangular shape) had not changed at all. The table top looked the same regardless of the viewer’s orientation.

With that in mind, I took the original sketch, traced the tabletop and chair closest to the viewer; flipped that drawing upside down and placed that on the original sketch to see the Escheresque optics.

The hint of the tiles on the floor where an afterthought, but one that worked perfectly with the optical illusion on the drawing’s perspective.

I’m a big fan of Escher, and have done more than my fair share of parodies of his work, but this cartoon was total serendipity. The Escheresque feel of this cartoon was certainly the result, but it wasn’t the plan. Hell, there was no plan.

Community Comments

#1 Robert Ariail
December/16/2011
@ 4:27 pm

That’s a good example of the “international style” that generally wins this competition – that is, a clear and concise visual with little to no captions or writing. It can be understood throughout the world with no translation needed. I’d venture to say Clay could’ve left off the papers with “peace talks” written on them and it would be just as effective.

Nice job, Clay – Congratulations!

#2 Carl Moore
December/16/2011
@ 8:43 pm

This is an absolutely terrific cartoon.

#3 Milt Priggee
December/17/2011
@ 9:20 am

Clay is the BEST. I especially liked the little touch of including a second signature and by-lne to balance the visual image that neither side is upside down…..or both are.

#4 RYAN BROWN
December/17/2011
@ 6:09 pm

Great cartoon !

#5 Scott Metzger
December/20/2011
@ 12:30 pm

Wow, this is brilliant.

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