Are You Happy, Mr. Superman?
I picked up this original piece from Bosch Fawstin the other day, a cartoonist who has quickly become one of my favorite illustrators in the world and who is, incidentally, perhaps the most heroic cartoonist alive today.
I’ve been slowly building up a collection of his work because I think his project is deeply important and because the art he creates produces emotions that are best put into words as “This is what life means to me.”
The drawing is of a photograph of Howard Roark, the uncompromising hero of The Fountainhead. In the novel, just as Roark is looking at the Enright House, a building he has designed, a photographer notices the look on his face and takes a photo:
[H]e had always wondered why the sensations one felt in dreams were so much more intense than anything one could experience in waking reality–why the horror was so total and the ecstasy so complete–and what was that extra quality which could never be recaptured afterward; the quality of what he felt when he walked down a path through tangled green leaves in a dream, in an air full of expectation, of causeless, utter rapture–and when he awakened he could not explain it, it had been just a path through some woods. He thought of that because he saw that extra quality for the first time in waking existence, he saw it in Roark’s face lifted to the building.
Years later, Roark is a sued by a client and a tabloid newspaper publishes the photo with the caption “Are You Happy, Mr. Superman?”
The tabloid wants to undercut man’s ambition. Don’t try too hard. Don’t overreach. Are you happy? You thought you were Superman and now you’ve fallen back to Earth. Are you happy?
And the answer is and always will be yes.