Jack Ohman

June 28, 2013

The editorial cartoonists meet The Beatles...

Jack Ohman

Editorial cartoonist, writer and Joe King’s alter ego

One of the great things about being at the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists convention, aside from the wacky kartoon kut-ups who attend, are the speakers.

Today we heard from Jann Haworth, who is a transplanted Utah artist who, along with her former husband Peter Blake, was one of the photographers and artists who designed the cover of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album cover. Really. Like, you know, the one you have moldering in your garage and that you stared at obsessively looking for clues as to the well-being of Paul.

He's still alive, FYI. And I am the walrus.

She even brought in her Grammy award for it, which is really small and she let everybody play with. The little speaker horn even came off. It was rather tarnished, and was very similar in size to an award someone might have won for being the Best Western District Sales Associate, Region Six. I was hoping it might be more impressive, but it would have substituted nicely for a underwhelming paperweight.

Haworth is still a very kicky early seventy-something, and is a renowned scuptor and cloth artist, in addition to her work being at the center of the creation of perhaps the most recognizable piece of pop art since Andy Warhol decided to redo the Campbell's Soup can.

She wears her fame very lightly, and answered a lot of obscure questions that were asked obscurely and obsessively like me.

"What were The Beatles like when they came in the room?'

She replied that as a group they were more reserved than they were as individuals, and that they were pretty businesslike as they stood in their day-glo uniforms. The photographers and artists working on the cover had only heard a few tracks to work from for inspiration. The Beatles picked out about a third of the figures for the backgrounds, and Haworth and others picked out the rest. The set took about ten days to build. She noted that one evening in 1963, she and her husband took The Beatles around to tony, upscale London nightclubs to introduce them to the snootier clientele. One club owner hadn't heard of them, and was only persuaded to let them in when George Harrison pointed out that the song playing in their club at that moment, "Love Me Do," was theirs.

Oh, OK. You can come in, I guess.

Haworth said that they had borrowed wax figures from Madame Tussaud's wax museum (they stand just to the left of Beatles in the cover art), and that John wanted Hitler in the picture. Odd, considering Lennon's middle name was Winston.

Haworth's father was a leading Hollywood set designer, and he worked on many major films such as "Some Like it Hot," and "Marty." Some of her early childhood memories were hanging around with Marlon Brando and Tony Curtis. They weren't movie stars to her; they were just people who populated her youth while her father did his job.

That's way cooler than hanging around a bunch of political cartoonists.

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