Open Culture revisits the influence of Hunter S. Thompson on the art of Ralph Steadman.
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Though the two men only occasionally collaborated over their long friendship, the work of Kentucky-born “gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson and that of British illustrator Ralph Steadman enjoy a cultural symbiosis: Thompson’s style of writing puts you in the mind of Steadman’s style of drawing, and vice versa even more so. At this point, I have a hard time imagining any suitable visual accompaniment to the simultaneously clear- and wild-eyed sensibility of Thompsonian prose — “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone,” he famously said, “but they’ve always worked for me” — other than the bold strokes and violent blotches with which Steadman renders visions of highly controlled madness. The clip above, from Alex Gibney’s documentary Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, explores the origins of their aesthetic and psychological partnership.