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The Look of Funny
August 26, 2014 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Inside the Art Department at The Onion.
posted by Chrysostom (11 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I...can't tell if this is serious or satire.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:05 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


This is excellent. The graphics team there does more high-quality work than at any standard news site I can think of. It is fascinating to have a look at what goes into it.

Omnomnom:

I...can't tell if this is serious or satire.

We tracked down the art department of Buzzfeed and accompanied them through a typical day. You Won't Believe What Happened Next.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:14 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]


Kelly! You bastard!
posted by Drinky Die at 11:24 AM on August 26


Royal Baby Born
"This was a doozy. So we had a long running joke with Kate Middleton's baby; very benign pregnancy headlines were juxtaposed with overt visual clues that the child was the product of some ancient cult whose demon-worshipping members were trying to bring about the apocalypse. We had dropped a number of hints to this effect over the course of her pregnancy, so we felt strong pressure to deliver an arresting visual. This is actually an oiled-up model, shark's teeth, slaughterhouse shots, and water spraying elements with lots of overlays."
In comparison, the article is so dull:
LONDON—After months of anticipation, representatives for the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton confirmed today that the royal baby has finally made its way into the world. “I am very excited to report that the little sire has been born happy, hungry, and ready to greet the nation,” said a representative for the Royal Family, who noted that while the Duchess experienced some slight soreness during birth, it was all worth it to see the newborn prince in person. “We all simply cannot wait to see what our recent arrival has in store for Britain, and indeed the world at large.” At press time, the proud new mother was reportedly recovering in Buckingham Palace and unavailable for comment.
... and it makes no reference to the gory image. Well done, everyone.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:34 AM on August 26 [4 favorites]


I've long held that The Onion's graphics department is an undersung reason for why they do deadpan news parody so much better than their imitators. Slipshod fake-news operations like The Free Wood Post or The Currant are content just to make up a non-factual (if not necessarily "humorous") headline, slap a randomly-selected Google Images photo on it, and call it a day. NOT SO FOR THE ONION.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:45 AM on August 26 [3 favorites]


The obviously Photoshopped ones take a back seat in my mind to the "Area Man" photos showing regular guys (likely staffers according to the article) doing regular guy things in regular guy settings.
posted by tommasz at 11:45 AM on August 26


I was never a devoted Onion reader, and as such, I just assumed that most of the material was one-off jokes, or jokes about the lack of consistency (see comments from the public, where they re-use the same "on the street" head shots with different names and occupations), but the Royal Baby posts are about the baby literally being a demon, back to the very beginning, and then the demonic ultrasound.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:47 AM on August 26


I think at the Hideout Block Party/Onion AV Fest last year they were taking pictures of people in front of an empty background to maybe be photoshopped into pictures in the future. (That's what I heard they were doing that for but I never asked because I didn't want to feel pressured and was feeling kinda ugmo that weekend, and I've regretted it ever since.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:57 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]


Long ago (maybe 2002?), I went to see a talk by Scott Dikkers, a longtime editor there. And asked him this question -- how does the art department do its work, what's the relationship between the writers and the artists, are the artists doing their own thing or just following instructions from the writers? He blew the question off completely, so I'm very gratified to see this!
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:25 PM on August 26


Clickhole.com is my new Alternet.org
posted by General Tonic at 2:29 PM on August 26


Some of my very favorite Onion stories are like that royal baby series, where they have a whole evolving history in mind over time. Like back when they were dropping in these little news reports in which Bob Dole was gradually having body parts replaced with weaponized cyborg implants. "Children should not play in or around Bob Dole".

I think their art department deserves all the kudos it can get. I'd be interested to see who the geniuses were who designed and implemented what I think might be the Onion's highest artistic triumph to date, the entire "Our Dumb Century" book of faux-historical front pages of the newspaper--delivering tons of jokes and crisp satire, while also parodying different eras of actual physical newspaper design and story/image presentation.
posted by theatro at 6:50 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


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