Monday, January 9, 2012

Riding Ostriches

Occasionally, I see something illustrated which seems wonderfully absurd. Like this staging of a mannequin wearing Iris Apfel's apparel (and signature glasses) riding an ostrich from the Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel of the Peabody Essex Museum. Then, somehow, I am reminded of this by, say, an illustration,

Yiiha! by Sabine Gebhardt

which in turn brings to mind, a prize-winning screenprint by local Toronto printmaker (and teacher at Open Studio) Daryl Vocat:

Daryl Vocat, Practicing Strategic Invisibility is an
Excellent Way to Mislead Enemies, screenprint

which I mistakenly remembered as someone riding an ostrich, but which is nothing of the sort (but too delightfully absurd to omit). This sort of thing prompts me to search whether this is a more common idea than I would have thought (having the strong impression that ostriches are not kindly animals, and would be ill-inclined to accepting a rider).

Detective Comics #67, Cover: Original Art by Jerry Robinson(DC, 1942)

According to io9, not only did the first Batman comic book appearance (1942, in Detective Comics #67) of the villain Penguin involve a cover illustration of the crook riding an ostrich, but when it came up for auction last November, bids exceeded $200,000!

I knew nothing of old school video game Joust, where "the player controls a yellow knight riding a flying ostrich from a third-person perspective" but I admire this propaganda style poster by illustrator Steve Thomas:

Much to my surprise, even the most cursory enquiry reveals that not only riding, but racing ostriches is a reasonably common occurrence, and something people have been doing for some time.

“They’re Off!” - Thrills of the Turf in Ostrich Racing (Modern Mechanics, September, 1929)

I should really know better than to be surprised, being familiar, for instance with Rule 34 of the Internet. Ergo, there should also be some corollary: if some artist illustrates a whimsical and ill-advised behaviour, some person has tried it (and posted it to the Internet).

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