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Banksy’s 11 Most Complicated Works

1. Mobile Waterfall Truck

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While Banksy is best known for his stencil-based, spray-painted wall pieces, the artist has continually mixed things up over the years, and he’s taken some big risks with different pieces. One of the first pieces of the “Better Out Than In” show also seems to be one of the most complicated, at least technically speaking, considering it involves a fully working waterfall that travels around the city in the back of a delivery truck. So far, it’s one of two moving trucks (and, yes, he’s even added his touch to stationary vehicles) that Banksy has included in this latest set of works, but its working water and over-the-top whimsy make it feel far more complicated than his cute/disturbing slaughterhouse truck, packed to the gills with mooing and cooing stuffed animals.

2. The Elephant in the Room

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When Banksy hit Los Angeles back in 2006 for his first U.S. exhibition, he brought along traditional works, large-scale pieces, and a literal elephant to fill a room. While it may have been amusing that Banksy titled his showing “Barely Legal,” it wasn’t so funny when U.S. officials deemed his painting of an actual, live elephant named Tai, done up in pink and gold paint to match the wallpaper of a room set-up, actually broke the law: Banksy had the proper permits to include Tai in the exhibition, but painting the pachyderm from trunk to toe was illegal (and quite time-consuming to complete in the first place).

3. Going to the Zoo

Zoochat

Plenty of Banksy pieces have been destroyed or removed, but two of his most ballsy are so hard to find pictures of that they seem more like myth than reality. Those two pieces—some of Banksy’s most dangerous, reckless, and illegal works—briefly had homes at the London Zoo and the Bristol Zoo. In animal enclosures. Which Banksy climbed into in order to tag them. We said “dangerous,” right? The London Zoo penguin enclosure was once home to swimming birds and 7-foot-high letters that read, “We’re bored of fish.” At Bristol, Banksy took to the elephant enclosure to write, "I want out. This place is too cold. Keeper smells. Boring, boring, boring” on a wall. 

4. The West Bank

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In the late summer of 2005, Banksy took to the Israeli West Bank barrier to paint a staggering nine pieces on the wall that separates the country from the landlocked Palestinian territories. Banksy’s work on the Palestinian side is remarkable (and remarkably complicated) for a number of reasons: it’s a politically volatile area that is constantly patrolled, Banksy’s works there are massive, and the pieces all come with a very political bent (and a paradise-seeking theme). While the wall is home to plenty of other protest graffiti, Banksy’s work remains the most well known.   

5. The Phone Box

Artlet Blog

When Banksy goes large-scale, he really goes large-scale. In 2006, the artist made a sculpture based on a classic red London phone box (paging Dr. Who), crumpled the thing up, rammed a pickaxe through it, made it look as if it was bleeding, and left it on a side street in the busy Soho section of London. How did he do it? How did no one see? How do you make a phone box sculpture? Who knows? 

6. Guantanamo Bay Comes to Disneyland

WebUrbanist

Banksy’s work has always come with political bite, but he took a real chomp out of international politics with a stunt he pulled at Disneyland back in September 2006. The artist snuck in an inflatable doll dressed like a Guantanamo Bay detainment camp prisoner (complete with an orange jumpsuit, black hood, and handcuffs), and then managed to blow up the thing and place it within the confines of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride. The piece stayed up for over an hour, until the ride had to be shut down to remove it. Most people can’t even sneak outside drinks into Disneyland.

7. One Nation Under CCTV

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Perhaps one of Banksy’s most recognizable pieces (though it’s since been removed), the artist took to a large London wall back in April of 2008 to paint his then-biggest work. A commentary on the UK’s widespread use of CCTV cameras to watch its populace, the building-sized piece read “ONE NATION UNDER CCTV,” and featured a depiction of both a child-sized artist and a watchful security guard. The amazing part? Banksy had to scale a wall and erect scaffolding to paint the artwork—located right next to those omnipresent CCTV cameras, which failed to capture the artist. 

8. Artworks in the Museum, New York Edition

Wooster Collective

In March of 2005, Banksy subverted the traditional means of getting his artwork into famous museums—he just posted them up himself. He hit four of New York City’s biggest art meccas—the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Brooklyn Museum—mounting up new pieces at each. Most of the pieces stayed up for an entire day before officials noticed that anything was amiss, even as museum patrons eyeballed works they knew weren’t exactly right.

9. Artworks in the Museum, London Edition

Flickr user MichaelPickard

Later that same year, Banksy took his museum-trolling gig back to London, turning his stunts in gallery 49 of the British Museum. There, he posted his version of a cave painting (a primitive hunter, pushing a shopping cart), complete with descriptive placard. Again, the artist added his own work to a famous museum without notice, and the piece stayed up for days. 

10. The Bristol Exhibition

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Four years later, Banksy launched his biggest museum hoax to date—though his exhibition at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery was actually sanctioned and commissioned by the museum. Still, only two officials knew about the installation, and Banksy and his team hit the space in the middle of the night to replace other artworks with a hundred of his own—from a massive truck installation to classic stencils, all the way down to a small, kitted out mouse placed in the museum’s natural history section.

11. Exit Through the Gift Shop

While plenty of artists have made the leap from graphic arts to the big screen, Banksy’s unique film Exit Through the Gift Shop is an exceedingly bold, wacky, and complicated endeavor that stands out amongst its brethren. Sure, the film picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature, but the tale of French street artist Thierry Guetta (aka Mr. Brainwash) and his wild ascent to the top tier of his profession is wickedly fun, possibly fake, and perhaps the best insight into who Banksy is yet. The artist reportedly spent a year on editing alone, forced to sift through nearly 10,000 hours of footage shot by Guetta (most of it proving unusable). Of course, that seems complicated and hard enough—but when you consider the widely circulating theory that Banksy himself is Mr. Brainwash, the film itself seems like a bit of a miracle.

 

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Comics
10 Things You Might Not Know About Hägar the Horrible
King Features Syndicate
King Features Syndicate

For 45 years, the anachronistic adventures of a Scandinavian Viking named Hägar have populated the funny papers. Created by cartoonist Dik Browne, Hagar the Horrible is less about raiding and pillaging and more about Hägar’s domestic squabbles with wife Helga. If you’re a fan of this red-bearded savage with a surprisingly gentle demeanor, check out some facts about the strip’s history, Hägar’s status as a soda pitchman, and his stint as a college football mascot.

1. HÄGAR IS NAMED AFTER HIS CREATOR.

Richard Arthur “Dik” Browne got his start drawing courtroom sketches for New York newspapers; he debuted a military strip, Ginny Jeep, for servicemen after entering the Army in 1942. Following an advertising stint where he created the Chiquita Banana logo, he was asked to tackle art duties on the 1954 Beetle Bailey spinoff strip Hi and Lois. When he felt an urge to create his own strip in 1973, Browne thought back to how his children called him “Hägar the Horrible” when he would playfully chase them around the house. “Immediately, I thought Viking,” he told People in 1978. Hägar was soon the fastest-growing strip in history, appearing over 1000 papers.

2. HE COULD HAVE BEEN BULBAR THE BARBARIAN.

A Hägar the Horrible comic strip
King Features Syndicate

Working on Hi and Lois with cartoonist Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey) gave Browne an opportunity to solicit advice on Hägar from his more experienced colleague. As Walker recalled, he thought “Hägar” would be too hard for people to pronounce or spell and suggested Browne go with “Bulbar the Barbarian” instead. Browne brushed off the suggestion, preferring his own alliterative title.

3. A HEART ATTACK COULD HAVE CHANGED HÄGAR’S FATE.

When Browne came up with Hägar, he sent it along to a syndicate editor he knew from his work on Hi and Lois. According to Chris Browne, Dik’s son and the eventual artist for Hägar after his father passed away in 1989, the man originally promised to look at it after he got back from his vacation. He changed his mind at the last minute, reviewing and accepting the strip before leaving. Just days later, while on his ski vacation, the editor had a heart attack and died. If he hadn’t approved the strip prior to his passing, Browne said, Hägar may never have seen print.

4. THE STRIP HELPED BROWNE AVOID VANDALS.

A Hägar the Horrible comic strip
King Features Syndicate

Chris Browne recalled that Halloween in his Connecticut neighborhood was a time for kids to show their appreciation for his father’s work. While trick-or-treaters were busy covering nearby houses in toilet paper or spray paint, they spared the Browne residence. The only evidence of their vandalism was a spray-painted sign that read, “Mr. Browne, We Love Hägar.”

5. BROWNE’S DAUGHTER TALKED HIM OUT OF KIDNAPPING PLOTS.

Vikings were not known for being advocates for human rights. Hägar, despite his relatively genteel persona, still exhibited some barbaric traits, such as running off with “maidens” after a plundering session. Speaking with the Associated Press in 1983, Browne admitted he toned down the more lecherous side of Hägar after getting complaints from his daughter. “Running off with a maiden isn’t funny,” she told him. “It’s a crime.”

6. HÄGAR ENDORSED SODA.

A soda can featuring Hägar the Horrible
Amazon

Despite his preference for alcohol, Hägar apparently had a bit of a sweet tooth as well. In the 1970s, King Features licensed out a line of soda cans featuring some of their most popular comic strip characters, including Popeye, Blondie, and Hägar. The Viking also shilled for Mug Root Beer in the 1990s.

7. HE WAS A COLLEGE MASCOT.

In 1965, Cleveland State University students voted in the name “Vikings” for their collegiate basketball team. After using a mascot dubbed Viktorious Vike, the school adopted Hägar in the 1980s. Both Hägar and wife Helga appeared at several of the school’s sporting events before being replaced by an original character named Vike.

8. HE EVENTUALLY SOBERED UP.

A Hägar the Horrible comic strip
King Features Syndicate

When Dik Browne was working on Hägar, the Viking was prone to bouts of excessive drinking. When Chris Browne took over the strip, he made a deliberate decision to minimize Hägar’s imbibing. "When my father was doing the strip, he did an awful lot of gags about Hägar falling down drunk and coming home in a wheelbarrow, and as times go on that doesn't strike me as that funny anymore,” Brown told the Chicago Tribune in 1993. “Just about everybody I know has had somebody hurt by alcoholism or substance abuse.”

9. HE HAD HIS OWN HANNA-BARBERA CARTOON.

It took some time, but Hägar was finally honored with the animated special treatment in 1989. Cartoon powerhouse Hanna-Barbera created the 30-minute special, Hägar the Horrible: Hägar Knows Best, and cast the Viking as being out of his element after returning home for the first time in years. The voice of Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen, performed the title character. It was later released on DVD as part of a comic strip cartoon collection.

10. HE SAILED INTO THE WIZARD OF ID.

A Wizard of Id comic strip
King Features Syndicate

In 2014, Hägar made an appearance in the late Johnny Hart’s Wizard of Id comic strip, with the two characters looking confused at the idea they’ve run into one another at sea. Hägar also made a cameo in Blondie to celebrate that character’s 75th birthday in 2005.

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Pop Chart Lab
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Every Emoji Ever, Arranged by Color
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

What lies at the end of the emoji rainbow? It's not a pot of gold, but rather an exclamation point—a fitting way to round out the Every Emoji Ever print created by the design experts over at Pop Chart Lab.

As the name suggests, every emoji that's currently used in version 10.0.0 of Unicode is represented, which, if you're keeping track, is nearly 2400.

Each emoji was painstakingly hand-illustrated and arranged chromatically, starting with yellow and ending in white. Unicode was most recently updated last summer, with 56 emojis added to the family. Some of the newest members of the emoji clan include a mermaid, a couple of dinosaurs, a UFO, and a Chinese takeout box. However, the most popular emoji last year was the "despairing crying face." Make of that what you will.

Past posters from Pop Chart Lab have depicted the instruments played in every Beatles song, every bird species in North America, and magical objects of the wizarding world. The price of the Every Emoji Ever poster starts at $29, and if you're interested, the piece can be purchased here.

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