A Combat Reporter Sketches The Warzone


Meet Richard Johnson, former embedded visual journalist for the Detroit Free Press. Embedded visual journalist? Johnson, who bears no relation to the Page Six editor, is a graphic artist who was sent by the Freep to Iraq as a war illustrator. The idea was to follow in the tradition of the combat sketches of World War I — and it worked beautifully.

After his stint in Detroit, Johnson moved on to become the graphic editor of Canada’s National Post. At that paper, he ended up artblogging Canada’s war effort in Afghanistan.

We mention all this because we just came across this interview with him:

There is a natural tendency to believe that death cannot happen to you, and I grasp this lifeline pretty tightly. Without this helpful delusion I would likely never get off the plane.

In Afghanistan on various patrols there was shooting around me, but not often enough that I could become an expert on whether it was nearby or not. I take my cues from the soldiers. When they duck down, I duck down. When they lie face down, I lie face down.

The Forward Operating Bases were regularly on the receiving end of rocket and mortar fire, but this was so random and so sporadic that you can’t do anything other than get on with your work, ignore it and hope for the best.

More of Johnson’s art