Whaam! Revisited       HOME

In June 2010, at the Carlow Art Festival, I displayed a Pop Art painting on the street. There was such a strong reaction to it that I did this write-up of it.

"Whaam! Revisited" by John Penfold, 2008.

If you think "I've seen this before somewhere", then you are probably thinking of "Whaam!" by Roy Lichtenstein, at the Tate Gallery in London. But you might not know the original work by Irv Novick, in a comic magazine.

The famous "Whaam!" by Roy Lichtenstein, 1963

The original work, by Irv Novick, 1962. Roy's caption is identical.

I love Roy's simplified, high-impact interpretation of Irv's work and I can see why it helped to start the Pop-Art movement. But simplicity is not everything, and I much prefer the energy of the original.

The attacking aeroplane in Roy's work is based on a propeller-driven Mustang, taken from another story in the same comic. It jars with me because Roy deleted the propeller, but the tail is too thin to have a jet exhaust. The resulting plane has no visible means of propulsion, which might be why many people see it as a futuristic car.

These thoughts brought me to the obvious conclusion. I would produce my own interpretation of the original Irv Novick work. The result is "Whaam! Revisited".

I reinforced the identity of the jets, which is lost in both the original and in Roy's work. They are the iconic American Sabre and the Russian MiG-15.

American Sabre and Russian MiG-15

The Sabre is instantly recognisable in most of the original comic story, but it is uncharacteristically miss-drawn in this frame of the comic. Irv gave it the rounded, cigar-shaped body of the MiG instead of the distinctive nose of the Sabre. Perhaps it was originally intended to be the MiG but was changed to the Sabre after the drawing was started ?

The 1962 comic which spawned no less than four Roy Lichtenstein works

I worked from the original 1962 comic which spawned "Whaam!". Three more of Roy's early pop-art works leapt out at me from the very same issue: "Blam!", "Jet Pilot" and "Brattata", so this was a seminal comic for Roy.

© 2010 John Penfold. You are welcome to use this material in you own work, if you credit it to John Penfold of Borris, Ireland. Thanks