The Key Moment: Drawing a New Look for Notorious

The Key Moment: Drawing a New Look for <em>Notorious</em>

I’ve done more than a few pieces for Criterion over the years, but Alfred Hitchcock’s spy-noir masterwork Notorious was on an entirely different level from the previous films I’ve worked on. Notorious was the very first Hitchcock I ever saw as a TV/movie-obsessed eight-year-old, and it remains my favorite, largely because of that lifelong nostalgia and the crush on Ingrid Bergman it gave me. It’s an exquisite story told deftly and brilliantly, and I love the volcanic suaveness of Cary Grant, the thorny elegance of Ingrid Bergman, the childlike danger of Claude Raines, and the spider-like manipulations of his ferocious mother, played by Leopoldine Konstantin. Notorious wasn’t my first noir, but it was the one that made me realize there was a whole world of film shot in rich and shadowy depths and anchored by pinhole shafts of light. At the time, I was getting interested in storytelling as my true passion, and I remember thinking, “I want to make something as good as this.”

Now, professionally, I’m not a film guy per se. I’m primarily an artist and a writer who uses his artwork to tell stories. When I’m working on a graphic novel or a children’s book, the depth and seriousness needed to execute the world I’m creating is definitely rewarding. But interpreting a film I adore is the joy work, the pure playground, and it’s far simpler. In many ways, it means surrendering the responsibility for it all and essentially becoming a cheerleader of the movie. Another reason working on Notorious was special for me was because the previous edition was the very first Criterion disc I ever bought. And I bought it for the cover—that black field with Bergman gingerly holding her poisoned tea cup . . . To be given the opportunity to improve upon that was both a terrific thrill and a profound challenge.

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