Notes: In 1985, Ken Kesey asked the underground cartoonist best-known for his Checkered Demon character to design the dust jacket for his forthcoming collection of short stories, Demon Box. Wilson did, beginning with a large sketch and finishing with a finely drawn and painted design, but to no avail. The publisher didn't like it and instead went with a red jacket with abstract shapes (really, the worst looking of all of Kesey's books).
This archive includes the large sketch made with marker with copious notes by Wilson in the margins (18 by 24 inches on brown kraft paper), the finished artwork (12 by 18 inches), an autograph letter, signed (ALS) from Wilson to an editor at Viking and an ALS from the editor to Wilson, two ink treatments of the author and title text, and two ALS from Wilson to the bookseller Peter Howard (Serendipity Books), sending him the artwork to sell. Accompanying this original material are photocopies of the letters sent from Kesey to Wilson about the project and a letter from the editor to Wilson.
In the photocopied letter from the editor, he offers this guidance: Do "something that captures the kinetic spirit of the book, something bold and bright and faintly ominous at the same time." Kesey's direction (in a photocopied letter) is more direct: "Don't throw in gratuitous rattlesnakes swastikas nipples puke slobber shit piss stink etc. Save it for the comics." Apparently, even toned down S. Clay Wilson proved too much and the project was scrapped in favor of the abstract design that had none of the desired "kinetic spirit" but it also omitted gratuitous swastikas and nipples.
Full-color paintings by Clay Wilson are much less common than his pen-and-ink comics work and this is one of the only ones you could hang in your office, if people don't look too closely.
Edition + Condition: Full color painting fine; large sketch with a ragged edge, possibly original. Letters and other materials fine. Both drawings are signed in full by the artist.
Item No: #362022