Feathered Bastard

Molly Crabapple turns, well, crabby...

Fred Harper's illo, one of the most infamous ever to illustrate The Bird.

Crabapple's illo: Uh, just what did she reckon the illo was about?

NY artist Molly Crabapple must be feeling the heat for her illustration of this week's Bird column on the Scottsdale tranny-Tom Anderson row, titled "Tranny Tweeter". All of a sudden she's shocked, shocked to find out about the subject of the piece. Now she's claiming ignorance, doing penance before her PC comrades, and donating the scrilla she made off the illo to some pro-tranny org. Read this from Crabapple's live journal:

So, illustrating for a living can get one into asinine situations. I was recently hired to do a piece for the Bird Column in the Phoenix New Times. Now, ever since The Bird wrote an article denouncing Dr. Sketchy's, I haven't had the warmest feelings for him.

As with most illustration jobs for weeklies, I was hired to do the job without being given the article to read. I thought it was a carictature of a local politician. I was horrified when I saw that my drawing was used to illustrate a piece of anti-transgender bigotry. I feel kind of like someone who was hired to do "an illustration of a little girl", and it ended up being used in a pro-child-molestation article.

I'm deeply sorry for doing the illustration, and just donated my money from the job to The National Center for Transgender Equality.

Now I feel like scrubbing myself in bleach. Strong bleach.

I happen to know the circumstances of Ms. Crabapple's hiring in this case. (Is that her real name, BTW? I'm guessing not.) Our regular illustrator Fred Harper was on vacay last week, and so he suggested girlfriend Crabapple as a fill-in. Nah, she didn't get to read the article ahead of time. Harper never gets to do that either. He's an illustrator, a hired gun, and a very, very good one, who, BTW, illustrated this same trans subject before, back when I first wrote about it in a column called "Tranny Gate."

Harper was aware of the subject matter in this week's Bird, as an e-mail was sent to him about it. If Crabapple didn't understand what it was all about, she executed it brilliantly nonetheless, and even helped in making AZ Attorney General Terry Goddard look more masculine, after the first draft was returned to her for improvements by the art director.

I find all the hyperbole, and the patting on the back Crabapple garners from her pals to be quite amusing. My views on this matter have been bent way out of shape on this little string of theirs, but if it makes 'em feel better, go for it. Crabapple mentions her Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School thing as I've written about the PHX chapter before. The reason why I criticized the PHX version of this alternative life-drawing event is that I thought that it was lame in comparison to the wild times it sounded like the Gotham chapter was having. In essence, I was urging PHXers to be cooler, have alcohol, more nudity. This was a criticism, actually, that local artists brought to me. But I can report that since then, the venue has changed, they have alcohol now, and are including better looking models, which always helps.

Below are some choice excerpts from Crabapple's peanut gallery; read it in full on her site. Also take a look at the column itself, for some comments from a transsexual, who offers some interesting criticism of the TG crowd.

touch_my_skin Oh god that's horrible! Good on you for donating the money though.

mollycrabapple Yeah... illustrating for newspapers is kind of a minefield like that, but this is the first time something of mine ever ended up illustrating something I violently disagreed with. Ugh indeed.

touch_my_skin Is there no way to at least find out what the article is about first? Seems like such a hazardous job for you!

mollycrabapple I should have asked more closely. Usually it's just "we're doing an article on political doormen. Do an illustration of a doorman towering over a pedestrian with pamphlets". Your client tells you what to draw, but not necessarily the editorial slant or details of the argument. And when you want to make a living and have one day to do the job, often you don't ask about it. Being a NYer, I'm also kinda naive and forget that there are respectable newspapers that print asshole-ism like that.

oh_chris man.. i did my undergraduate at Arizona State, and the New Times was a breath of fresh (or at least freshesque) air compared to the rest of the crap when i was there. I suppose a population idiotic enough to keep electing Sheriff Joe doesn't really care what the other side has to say. i'm sorry.

(NB: If this moron had ever taken a look at any of the many tirades I've leveled against Sheriff Joke in The Bird, he would be ashamed of his douchebaggery. I take that back: He wouldn't, but he should.)

touch_my_skin Yeah the fact that they're even printing that nonsense is ridiculous. You shouldn't have to worry about your stuff being used like that. Hopefully they'll give you more details about future jobs so it won't happen again! It's a shame cause it's a nice piece too!

mollycrabapple Yeah... I know. I dig the linework and mean carictature and everything. Just don't like what it's being used for.

sparklydevil i fucking HATE stephen lemons. he's a shitty, smarmy, self-important prick who can't write for shit and reads like an automated snark-a-tron, failing to ever make a compelling argument or do anything other than talk about himself. the two biggest shitbag misogynist douchebag editors i've ever worked for BOTH came from the phoenix new times and sound remarkably like him, so they must breed them over there. don't even get me started on the pitiful excuse for "alternative" journalism that is the entire new times chain -- the company single handedly responsible for destroying the village voice, by the way. the entire chain is scum, and practically promotes questionable journalistic integrity as a religion.

llahamamama I used to LOVE the new times. I haven't picked one up in years. I could not decipher if that article was anti trans, goddard, or anderson's suckwad's!!!

pinkveneer exactly why i decided to stop being an illustrator many years ago (after working in the area for many years.) but it was one one of the best things i ever did, leaving it, that is :) generous of you to donate the $. the new times are the ones that should be made to pay. but i will leave it to you to think of a devious plan to get them to do so. ;)

jj_maccrimmon I'm sorry that you got had this way. It sounds very much like they selected you specifically to embarass you by supplying the art (at worst) or there's some other additional motives. You've done a lot of different types of modeling work. It could just be dumb bad luck. Either way it sucks that your name would get attached to a piece of hate like this. Donating the money was a very classy thing to do.In future, you might want to insist on a option to have your name removed from any piece you supply that is used for or directly associated with personally objectionable public release material.

mollycrabapple Nah... it was just bad luck. My boyfriend usually illustrates that column, but was out of town, so passed the job to me. Usually, the Bird is "obnoxious but petty", as opposed to "hate-mongering"

mildred_pierce oh my god, is this paper super right wing or something? why do they run so many weird articles?

wrayb woah. the dude is smarmy and pompous. Actual bigotry would take some conviction and seems he has little of that. Reading the review of the Phoenix Dr Sketchy fills out the image cheap comedy central man show type play for laughs. outstanding that you made the donation. don't worry about the bleach but I do guess that people assume some connection between the content and the illustration.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons