On the Drawing Board

November 19th, 2007 | Posted in On the Drawing Board

As usual several projects going right now including another MAD job, a poster job, an ad job for a car storage company, another ad job for a mortgage company and a few personal projects.

Another job from last month is finally hitting the stands and I can share the art and process with you. This one was odd as I had to do the final artwork while on the road in Orlando, so I ended up at my good friend illustrator and caricaturist Keelan Parham‘s studio and usurped his Cintiq and computer for an entire Sunday while The Lovely Anna and my kids went to the Magic Kingdom with Keelan’s wife Barbie and their daughter Brady. Only missed one day of vacation…

This job was for Hardee’s restaurants, and was art for an ad promotion for their newest sandwich offering… the “Philly Cheesesteak Thickburger”. It is a giant hamburger topped with cheesesteak fixings on one bun… not for a light lunch. The ad was supposed to be like a MAD “Fold-In” concept… something I’ve seen other companies like Dodge do in the past so I knew it was not unprecedented. The thing that concerned me was that the Hardee’s people might want me to copy Al Jaffee‘s style of artwork, which I would absolutely refuse to do. When I raised the issue with them, they said they wanted me to draw like me, and just to design the layout in a way that the folded version showed the results they wanted. Freed from the worry of having to ape another artist’s style, I accepted the job.

Let me tell you, I did not think it possible to have more respect than I already had for Al Jaffee but I was mistaken. It’s a real puzzle having to design and execute a single illustration so that is shows a different scene when folded properly… especially when the idea is to keep the final results hidden until the folding happens. I’m not sure I was very successful at the surprise ending part, as what I needed to illustrate was pretty hard to disguise, but I had my try at it.

Here’s the initial rough-


The way it worked best was to do a very rough sketch of the basic full scene, then to draw the two halves in their folded position first. Then using an exacto I cut the folded image along the fold and pasted them to a fresh sheet of paper with the appropriate distance between. Then I just started drawing the image in between, changing the outsides as needed without messing with the important parts.

I did not ink this one, as a softer feel is crucial to getting it to work. You need to be able to make the viewer think something one object when it is also part of something else. Hard lines make that difficult. So, I brought the scan with my to Keelan’s, loaded it up on his computer and commenced a’paintin’. It took me about 12 hours to get it finished. Here’s what the final looks like open:

Click for a closer look…

And folded in:


This ad should be in copies of Rolling Stone, Maxim and other magazines* where the main demographic includes meat-eating men. These kinds of ads are purchased regionally, so unless you have Hardee’s restaurants in your area likely you won’t see the ad. You also won’t be able to purchase a Philly Cheesesteak Thickburger…

Finally, thanks to my pal Keelan for putting up with me at his place… and Barbie too, who came home to find out I don’t put the toilet seat down after I use the bathroom (THE HORROR!!!!).

* EDIT: I just got an e-mail this morning from the AD on the project saying due to scaled back ad budgets they did not run this piece in print but instead used it for an internal incentive program. That’s a bummer but also common in advertising. C’est la vie.


  1. Trevour says:

    I hope to find this in print – looks great! I had one of those Philly Cheesesteak Thickburgers a while back… it’s definitely a lotta cow between that sesame seed bun.

  2. cedricstudio says:

    Wow, now that I think about it that would really make my brain hurt putting all of that together. Nicely done!

  3. DShultz says:

    Nice work, what a design challenge.

    “Philly Cheesesteak Thickburger” – beautiful.

  4. It’s great that they got an actual MAD artist for this, even though Al’s the only one that ever draws those things. The great thing about an ad job is, it doesn’t have to be as much of a challenge to the reader. Advertising has to be easy to take in.
    I’m sure your respect for Al Jaffee has more than quadrupled now that you’ve done his job. This ad/”internal incentive program” looks like a really fun job(I love artistic challenges). What’s an internal incentive program anyway? Placemats?

  5. Antzo8 says:

    I don’t know how Al Jaffee can come up with so many designs and illustrate them accordingly. Its amazing… But I think you did a really good job on that one above.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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