Roz Chast’s “Fireworks Megastore”

Save this storySave this storySave this storySave this story

Even as the debt-ceiling crisis has been averted (for now), and even as we continue to emerge from the pandemic with new life, the smoke from Canadian wildfires that blanketed the eastern part of the country in a toxic haze this week has brought our deep-seated sense of unease to the fore once again. In her new cover for the June 19, 2023, issue, the cartoonist Roz Chast paints, in bright colors, some of the most pressing and angst-provoking issues plaguing us these days, alongside everyday headaches, all ready to explode. I talked to the artist about shopping, slowing down, and paying attention.

Why fireworks?

The inspiration for this image was the huge, insane fireworks megastores I remember from trips out West. The fireworks were packaged in brightly colored boxes (Orange! Yellow! Red! Bright blue!) and had names like “Death from Above” or “Fiendish Viking.” Occasionally there would be a particularly lethal-looking one with a simperingly sweet name like “Chrysanthemum in Sky.” Aisle after aisle of them. I hate fireworks, but those places are fantastic.

It is easy to get overwhelmed in a supermarket, even if you enjoy shopping. Who does the shopping in your household? Do you like it or hate it?

My husband and I both do the shopping, but I’m the one who usually goes to the big grocery store. I kind of like it. I like to look at the packaging and the strange products—like the “outer-space-flavored” soda that Coca-Cola released last year.

You have embroidered for many years. How does that tactile process compare to illustrating cartoons with pen and paper?

I like working in different mediums; I’m now adding beads to my embroideries. It keeps things from getting boring, and what I learn from one medium often translates to another, though not necessarily directly. I love the slowness of hand embroidery. It feels almost rebellious to take ideas about efficiency and throw them out the window.

You have a new book coming out in October called “I Must Be Dreaming.” What drew you to exploring dreams?

When I get in the habit of paying attention to my dreams, I remember them. Once in a blue moon, I get a usable idea from a dream. But mostly not. That doesn’t make me like my dreams any less, though. I’m interested in the fact that my brain comes up with these bizarro-world stories every night. Why does it do that? I have no idea.

See below for more covers about fireworks:

“July 3, 1937,” by William Steig

“July 1, 1939,” by William Cotton

“Shared Celebration,” by R. Kikuo Johnson

Find Roz Chast’s covers, cartoons, and more at the Condé Nast Store.


No votes yet.
Please wait...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *