Jack Kerouac’s On the Road Turned Into an Illustrated Scroll: One Drawing for Every Page of the Novel

illustrated on the road scroll
A great deal of mythol­o­gy has built up around the life of Jack Ker­ouac, and espe­cial­ly around the expe­ri­ences that went into his best-known work, the 1957 nov­el On the Road. Even the very act of its com­po­si­tion — per­haps espe­cial­ly the act of its com­po­si­tion — has, in the imag­i­na­tions of many of Ker­ouac’s read­ers, turned into an image of the man “writ­ing the book on a long scroll of tele­type paper in three cof­fee-soaked-ben­zedrine-fueled days.” With this image in mind, illus­tra­tor Paul Rogers of Pasade­na’s Art Cen­ter Col­lege of Design cre­at­ed On the Road, the illus­trat­ed scroll, fea­tur­ing “a draw­ing for every page” of the nov­el, and depict­ing the his­tor­i­cal­ly researched “cars, bus­es, road­side archi­tec­ture, and old signs” from Ker­ouac’s Amer­i­ca of the late 1940s and ear­ly 50s, one that “looked awful­ly dif­fer­ent than it does now.” You can scroll, as it were, through this work in progress at Rogers’ site.


We’ve here includ­ed only four of the over 100 draw­ings Rogers has so far made, but these exam­ples cap­ture the nov­el­’s multi­gen­er­a­tional­ly intox­i­cat­ing mix of Amer­i­cana and pure momen­tum. You’ll also notice that, under­neath each image, Rogers excerpts a pas­sage of Ker­ouac’s. “Adding Ker­ouac’s words as cap­tions to the draw­ings makes the series feel like a jour­nal and not a care­ful­ly planned out illus­trat­ed book,” he writes, “and it seems to cap­ture some of the spir­it of Ker­ouac’s ‘this-hap­pened-then-this-then-this’ writ­ing style.”


You can read the scroll part-by-part on these pages: one through three, four, five, six, sev­en. Though I nev­er took quite the lifestyle inspi­ra­tion from On the Road some have, I can’t wait to see what visu­al inspi­ra­tion Rogers draws from the bit about fab­u­lous yel­low roman can­dles explod­ing like spi­ders across the stars.

souvenir folder

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Jack Kerouac’s Hand-Drawn Map of the Hitch­hik­ing Trip Nar­rat­ed in On the Road

Jack Kerouac’s On The Road Turned Into Google Dri­ving Direc­tions & Pub­lished as a Free eBook

Jack Ker­ouac Lists 9 Essen­tials for Writ­ing Spon­ta­neous Prose

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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