Stan Chow Goes Mad
As the final season of Mad Men started last night, all manner of celebration and mourning are being observed for one of the most celebrated narrative stories of this television era. To honor this moment TIME Magazine created a game, “Mad Libs,” a play off the classic game of the same name. In “Mad Libs” TIME guesses how the show will end, providing the outline of a story whose details are filled in by the choices of the reader. Each option is chosen specifically to be in line with a Mad Men theme. Locations like “Palm Springs” or “Sardi’s,” and nouns like “convertible” or “fedora” create a host of options with four of the most recognizable Mad Men characters flanking the game. Don Draper, Peggie Olson, Roger Sterling, and Joan Holloway glower in their identifying expressions done up in the signature style of Stan Chow.
Stan is a fan of the show himself, mostly because of how engrossing he finds it. “Even though I’ve never lived in the 60s it feels like it captures the era perfectly,” says Stan. “There’s so much drama. The stories are well written and I feel engaged with the characters.” Those characters were suddenly his charge.
For anyone who has watched the show from the first season, the choice of these four characters is no wonder, and once Stan got his directive he was free to play. “TIME told me which four they wanted to illustrate and I just went about my way. They’re the ones that have always kind of stood out. I particularly like Roger just because he’s so daft and silly. He’s such a buffoon and that makes him more endearing.” Stan’s clean style has always operated as a great way to communicate emotions and personality clearly. By distilling complex looks and details into clear ideas and expressions, archetypes become accessible. Through that process, choosing which details to highlight, Stan sometimes has to morph given reality to communicate more clearly. Stan had to make those shifts specifically with the clothing these characters were wearing.
The style of the show is so unique that Stan tried to stay as true as possible, but communicating the ideas is what was important. “Because of my style I can’t literally copy the clothing that they’re wearing,” Stan explains. “So I just paraphrased some of the patterns, they’re simplified versions of the actual patterns that they actually used.” These choices make for images that may not be carbon copies of what happens on the actual show, but do the job of telling the story as if they were.
This isn’t the first time Stan ever illustrated the Mad Men characters. Since he’s a fan of the show, he’s created their likenesses before, but last time it turned out a little differently. “Lion’s Gate sent me a Cease and Desist for some Mad Men illustrations I did five years ago, and it’s nice that this time it’s properly authorized,” Stan says with a laugh.