January 8, 2021

After 9/11, we were told to expect subsequent attacks. We were told on a daily basis just how safe we were supposed to feel. Even if the threat was not genuine, the tension and fear that political leaders and the media instilled in us, perhaps to make us feel dependent on them, wound us up every day. We were upset. We wanted to punch something, but there was nothing to hit, except for each other and ourselves.

Images of the towers falling, clouds of dust filling city streets became very familiar. Anything similar became provocative and taboo. As I thought about this and my need for an outlet to deal with my own anxiety, I thought about the Hulk in the middle of a sandstorm. What would he do? Would he try to fight it? Would he dig down deep enough to find refuge? Or would he leap so high and far that he would leave it all behind?

In 1999, I started to think about blind contour drawing as a means of achieving a fluid and gestural illustration style. I first drew this figure in my sketchbook as a nondescript man with some undefined weight bearing down on him. I then added the S-shaped cape to make the subject a superhero, instead of an everyman.

While in graduate school at Parsons, Union Square become the hub of my life for a number of years and I added details from the park and the surrounding buildings to make it look like the cityscape was becoming displaced like water and threatening to come crashing down on the superhero. Given the complex relationship one can imagine Batman has with Gotham, I added the details of his cowl and gauntlets when I darkened the sky.