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  • Jean-Francois Podevin

"That's All Folks!"

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

SUPERCOLLIDERS Time cover image 1990

I painted this cover image for Time magazine for a cover story about Supercolliders in 1990. The original art is now at the National Portrait Gallery Time magazine permanent collection

The Art director, Arthur Hochstein, asked me to envision Quarks at the moment of their collision, in a manner that shows both the super collider tunnel and the characteristic subatomic particles collision pattern etched photographically. After a few pencil and color sketches, I painted this final image.

Upon receipt and review, someone mentioned that the concentric rings were reminiscent of the “That’s all folks!” tunnel of rings at the end of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I recoiled at this critique of my work, but to the contrary Arthur reassured me that it was what they liked about it, because it provided a familiar frame of reference to readers. He then asked me if I could make the rings a lot darker and even more like the Looney Tunes “That’s all folks!” image.

A few rules of a successful magazine cover image in 1990 were for a publication’s cover to stand out in the midst of all others displayed in a newsstand, to get a viewer’s attention with an instant grasp of the cover story in question, and preferably to make the image memorable.

I told Arthur that it would be easier for me to redo the illustration rather than to modify the existing one. A special courier delivered the art back to me on Saturday morning, to be picked up again on Sunday night, and taken to the airport for delivery back at Time the following Monday morning.

This was going to be a short and stressful week-end ! It also turned out that I was out of illustration boards!

“Don’t panic, ( I did anyway!) Think fast! ” Thus began another frantic rush deadline studio dance! I unpacked the previous illustration, superimposed a transparent mylar on top of it.,

lightly sanded the mylar with steel wool, sprayed acrylic matte medium on it, and went to work.

Soon I reached the “blessed free-lance editorial Illustrators trance”, fingers like swirling dervishes doing the riverdance, it magically transported me to the end of the week-end with a finished and flawless illustration. I peeled the painted mylar from the original art, remounted it on a “ foam core” board, back in the crate, delivered on time, to be on the newsstands a day later.

This turned out to be one of the best techniques I ever used and still use to this day.

To have it published as a cover of Time was wonderful, to have it part of a permanent collection at the National Portrait gallery was double + good.

That’s all folks!



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