Spartan Holiday No. 3 "French Lesson" Now Available
I am delighted to report that the most recent issue of Spartan Holiday is out and available for purchase at SpartanHoliday.com! French Lesson tells the story of a visit to Paris, woven into a reflection on Massillon, Ohio, the town I grew up in. Massillon (Anglicized to MASS-lin, as opposed to the French pronunciation, Mah-SEE-ohn) was named for Jean-Baptiste Massillon (1663-1742) a cleric and sermonist who became the Bishop of Clermont in 1717. This issue of SH explores memories of high school French and the cult of football in Massillon, as viewed through the prism of Paris. The essays of Montaigne inform my thoughts, too. My Parisian itinerary was not typical. “Of course, you must go to Giverny,” insisted Madame (my old teacher, who appears as a character). She wanted me to visit Claude Monet’s estate, site of his water lily paintings. As I confess in the text, I never even considered it. (Enough about l’Impressionisme.) But the flea markets and the falafel joints were something else.
Massillon, Ohio was profiled endlessly across the second half of the last century for its football prowess and associated championships, with occasional misadventures. It has lately been rendered mildly famous as the hometown of new Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot. Lori graduated a year after I did, from Washington High School in Massillon. Her ascent to Mayor in the city of Daley is an astonishing, wonderful thing.
Spartan Holiday has become a primary creative vehicle for me, as it combines everything I love: history, visual culture, and writing; onsite drawing, design, lettering, and photography. All of that gets woven together to create a beautiful, immersive, informative, reading experience. To be sure, much of its appeal is attributable to my collaborative partner, graphic designer Scott Gericke.
This issue of Spartan has been recognized by the jurors of American Illustration, twice: two spreads appeared in AI 36, and another two were selected for AI 38. The jurors for the Society of Illustrators 59 selected a series of spreads as well. That’s gratifying to me, but less important than a sense that readers get something out of these “zines”; so far, a fairly diverse set of readers seems to enjoying the series.
For the record, SH 1 and 2—based on a trip to Shanghai—are still available. And No. 4 is in the works.
Each issue of Spartan engages local visual culture: in this case, the fait divers press, or early illustrated tabloid fare. With the help of a new friend, a drawing teacher, I attempt to track down full issues of Le Petit Journal illustrée. (The narrative type on the left page is stripped out of this reproduction).
This image was featured in Society of Illustrators 59, a redrawing of A Century of Heroes, the mural commemorating the Massillon, Ohio centenary of high school football centenary painted in 1994 by Eric Grohe. The guy on the horse is Napoleon, crossing the Alps (courtesy of Jacque-Louis David, 1801).
Come visit SpartanHoliday.com to check out this and other projects!