DAVID PLUNKERT, whose post-Charlottesville artwork of President Trump went viral in August, has a poignant new cover for the New Yorker — one that frames another American tragedy in starkly intimate terms.
And the challenge in responding to this week’s Las Vegas massacre, the Baltimore-based artist said, was to find an idea for the image that could serve as both memorial and message.
The final artwork for the forthcoming issue emblazons the names of the nearly 60 massacre victims on bullets. The illustration, titled “October 1, 2017: One Day in a Nation of Guns,” powerfully reflects this specific moment of mourning and the larger debate over the prevalence of guns in the United States.
“The idea that was chosen was based on the notion that there are enough bullets in the U.S. for every man, woman and child to feature every name,” Plunkert tells The Post’s Comic Riffs.
Plunkert and New Yorker art director Françoise Mouly tossed aside the idea of depicting the gunman in the Mandalay Bay hotel window, as well as that of a list of American communities that have more recently endured a mass shooting.
“It was mutually decided that using the first names only of those killed in the massacre would resonate more strongly than random names,” Plunkert said, “and would achieve the difficult balance of being both a tribute and a statement about the horror of the event.”
In August, Plunkert painted a cover of Trump metaphorically filling the sails of the KKK, after the president spoke about the fatal protests in Charlottesville. Other New Yorker covers in recent years have responded to gun-related deaths and roiling controversies in such places as Paris and Ferguson, Mo.
As for his own stance on gun violence, Plunkert said: “I have yet to hear a logical argument why any person needs multiple weapons and 100-plus bullet magazines with a range of thousands of feet to defend their home or hunt.”
“Perhaps it’s politically possible to find a reasonable balance between the Second Amendment and the needs of public safety,” he continued, “but the powers that be don’t currently inspire much confidence.”