Breaking Bad Illustrated by Gonzo Artist Ralph Steadman


Sure, I suf­fered from Break­ing Bad with­draw­al syn­drome after the show’s excel­lent fifth and final sea­son. Symp­toms includ­ed watch­ing episodes of Metás­ta­sis, the Colom­bian telen­ov­ela-style, Span­ish lan­guage remake; obses­sive­ly read­ing news about upcom­ing spin-off, Bet­ter Call Saul; and wish­ing the hoax about a Sea­son 6 was true. The con­di­tion is wide­spread, shared by fans of oth­er cult hits like Dex­ter and The Wire. Many take to the alter­nate uni­vers­es of fan fic­tion and art, and who can blame them? We become as engrossed in the lives of tele­vi­sion char­ac­ters as we do mem­bers of our own fam­i­ly, though I feel for you if your fam­i­ly is as dys­func­tion­al as Wal­ter White’s.


The unlike­ly drug king­pin from sub­ur­ban Albu­querque appealed to us, I think, because he seemed so non­de­script , so painful­ly ordinary—a domes­ti­cat­ed every­man, until des­per­a­tion and hubris turned him into the feared and respect­ed Heisen­berg. No small amount of wish ful­fill­ment for audi­ences there. Break­ing Bad’s world of hyper­vi­o­lence and insan­i­ty resem­bles the dan­ger­ous real world of des­per­a­does, sleazy oppor­tunists, and mer­ce­nar­ies that Hunter S. Thomp­son fear­less­ly doc­u­ment­ed, and so it makes per­fect sense that Thomp­son illus­tra­tor Ralph Stead­man would be cho­sen to draw six cov­ers for an upcom­ing release of all five sea­sons of the show on Blu-ray (the last sea­son is bro­ken in two, the way it was broad­cast). At the top of the post, see Steadman’s glow­er­ing ren­di­tion of Walt/Heisenberg him­self. Just above, see a dazed and con­fused Jesse Pinkman, and below, the blast­ed vis­age of their sup­pli­er turned arch-ene­my, Gus Fring. (The com­pli­cat­ed, and baf­fling­ly much-despised Skyler does not get her own cov­er.)


Steadman’s illus­tra­tions for Thompson’s Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, a “sur­re­al drug-fueled road trip” of a book, pre­fig­ure the law­less lim­i­nal spaces of Break­ing Bad’s sur­re­al desert land­scapes (remem­ber the tur­tle?). His ren­der­ings of a crazed Thomp­son on his “sav­age jour­ney to the heart of the Amer­i­can dream” per­haps even inspired the dan­ger­ous­ly unhinged jour­ney Walt and Jesse take togeth­er. Com­ing in Feb­ru­ary, the Stead­man-illus­trat­ed Blu-ray col­lec­tion is a lim­it­ed edi­tion and will, Dan­ger­ous Minds informs us, “be sold exclu­sive­ly by ($30 bucks each). Pre-order is going on now but be fore­warned, the Gus “The Chick­en Man” Fring edi­tion for sea­son four (as well as Mike Ehrmantraut’s sea­son five and Hank Schrader’s show finale sea­son) have already sold-out.” Lots of Break­ing Bad addicts out there, des­per­ate for a fix. If you’re one of them, act fast, though it’s like­ly Stead­man will even­tu­al­ly offer prints for sale (and maybe mugs and t‑shirts, too) on his web­site. See the oth­er three cov­ers over at Dan­ger­ous Minds.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch the Orig­i­nal Audi­tion Tapes for Break­ing Bad Before the Final Sea­son Debuts

The Sci­ence of Break­ing Bad: Pro­fes­sor Don­na Nel­son Explains How the Show Gets it Right

Bryan Cranston Reads Shelley’s Son­net “Ozy­man­dias” in Omi­nous Teas­er for Break­ing Bad’s Last Sea­son

How Hunter S. Thomp­son — and Psilo­cy­bin — Influ­enced the Art of Ralph Stead­man, Cre­at­ing the “Gonzo” Style

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.

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