spartan holiday illustrated journal

Spartan Holiday is an award-winning illustrated journal that combines travel writing, memoir and history to celebrate close looking and listening in daily life. Its editorial fixation: 

To celebrate a Spartan Holiday is to wring pleasure from modest stuff… To enliven a rainy day. To gain independence from the media narrative of the week…Honor the actual. Observe, slowly. Engage the world like a traveler, canny but agape, whether five or fifty or 5,000 miles from home. That’s what you can expect here. An eyeful.



Long-awaited Spartan #3 hops the pond for France. DB Dowd, AKA Professor Red, travels to Paris in search of answers about his youth in a football-crazy Ohio town, named for an erudite 17th-century Frenchman. As always, he researches local visual culture, in this case lurid illustrated disasters circa 1900 in Le Petit Journal illustrée. Par for the Spartan Holiday course. Part history, part memoir, part personal essay, French Lesson is richly illustrated, beautifully designed, and a quirky appreciation of one of the world's great cities. The critics dig it: work from this issue has been recognized in American Illustration 36, Society of Illustrators 59, and American Illustration 37.



"The Five Pagodas" extends Professor Red's exploration of Late Qing illustrated journalism in a beautifully illustrated graphic memoir. Red's attempt to engage local academic authorities lands with a thud. Readers are introduced to Wu Youru, leading illustrator for Dianshizai Huabao who launched his own competing pictorial in 1890. Set against backdrop of China in transition from the influence of Deng Xiaoping to a soon-to-be revived quasi-Maoism. Delivered in lush color, snappy illustration, and inventive design. Spreads from this project were recognized for inclusion in American Illustration 34.


No. 1  Shanghai Pictorial (2012)

The first in DB Dowd's series of illustrated 40-pagers describing his travels: a mix of memoir, history, and cultural reflection. Richly illustrated, designed, and art directed. Dowd, narrating in character as "Professor Red," takes the reader to Shanghai to investigate China's version of nineteenth-century illustrated journalism. The story explores Dianshizai Huabao, an illustrated newspaper supplement launched in 1884. "Shanghai Pictorial" establishes the Spartan benchmark of gorgeous design and illustration. This project was awarded silver and bronze medals for graphic novels in Illustration West 51, at the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles.