Classic WSJ Hedcut Illustrations

all images, c. Kevin Sprouls

As I rifled through my tattered portfolio case today, looking for an envelope that would make it to Saudi Arabia, I came upon a suitable candidate. It had a cache of Classic WSJ Hedcut Illustrations inside!

The envelope is on its way to Saudi, with a nice portrait inside, but I’ve scanned those gems from The Wall Street Journal yesteryears for you to see.

These images were scanned from the actual photostats we made at WSJ from the art I created of various political figures of the 1980’s. Let’s have a look:

Here is a vibrant drawing of G.K.Chesterton, the Catholic author of many works, including the series featuring Father Brown and his mysteries.

Here is a villain from the George W. Bush era, Saddam Hussein. In the time at which this was drawn, he was probably a U.S. ally. I did not know much a bout him at the time, so I gave the portrait no ‘spin’.

In the ’80’s, Africa was exploding in the news. Arpartheid was the issue, and the politicians there were trying unsuccessfully to hold on to power. Here is a truculant P.W. Botha making the defense. He would come to relinquish power,

A little earlier, this brutal dictator, Idi Amin, was slaughtering multitudes of his opponents in Uganda. My guess is this portrait was done in 1983 or thereabout. It has a lot of confidence stylistically, and depicts the politician in a defiant pose, probably from exile in Saudi Arabia.

Here’s one of Mikhael Gorbachov. The trick in this hedcut was to have his forehead birthmark show ‘just right’. Too light, no good. Too dark, even worse! I think I captured the mark properly, and the likeness as well.

Remember the Vice President who had a lot of trouble with the word ‘potato’? Here’s Dan Quayle, who did not have a very long career in politics.

Quayle was the V.P. to this man’s son. This is Prescott Bush. I don’t remember why the WSJ wanted to run his portrait. Apparently, the Bush family has a very long involvement in U.S. politics!

I was proud enough to sign this one. My parents were pretty involved with World War Two, being of the Greatest Generation. I think our country was fairly well united behind the president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, during those dark days. Certainly not perfect, I still believe he was the man for the time.

On a brighter note, here is a whimsical take on one of our early political figures, Benjamin Franklin. This illustration, unlike the others, did not appear in the WSJ. It was done in the eighties, though, for one of my freelance clients. Let me know what you think!

2 thoughts on “Classic WSJ Hedcut Illustrations

  1. With the “digital” economy on the rise, I vote for updating the $100 bill with your Franklin hedcut.

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