Friday, March 6, 2009

Sign creators ‘motivated to do something huge’

The Jayhawk student section displays an enlarged and modified version of artist John Steuart Curry's "Tragic Prelude" painting, which features abolitionist John Brown holding a rifle, and in this case the 2008 National Championship trophy.

The Jayhawk student section displays an enlarged and modified version of artist John Steuart Curry's "Tragic Prelude" painting, which features abolitionist John Brown holding a rifle, and in this case the 2008 National Championship trophy.



Journal-World File Photo

John Steuart Curry’s mural “Tragic Prelude” at the Kansas Capitol was the inspiration for a poster made by a group of KU students.

Download wallpapers for your desktop of John Brown holding the championship trophy

One of the things that Andrew Stanley — co-creator of the John Brown poster that surfaced recently at Kansas University’s Allen Fieldhouse — has learned in his career as an amateur sign-maker is that, on many occasions, bigger is indeed better.

Sitting at a table outside the Kansas Union on Thursday afternoon with a group of friends, for instance, Stanley was explaining how the group’s most recent project had come to fruition.

“I was talking to people about how we could do some new things,” said the senior Latin-American studies major. “I was trying to get some new free throw distractions organized and things like that. And then I was thinking, ‘Let’s just do something big.’”

Stanley, who is tall and stubbly faced and apparently spends a great deal of his time devising new ways to display his support for Kansas athletics, is kind of the unofficial Godfather of the Kansas student section — a title that stems from the KU senior’s ability to seemingly have a hand in any poster of consequence displayed at a Kansas athletic event.

During his freshman year four years ago, Stanley and his cohorts had the idea of bringing large cutouts of players’ heads to games — a practice that has become an Allen Fieldhouse staple in recent years. In 2007, meanwhile, during the Border War football matchup at Arrowhead Stadium, they unveiled the notorious “John Browngino” poster, which depicted former Civil War-era abolitionist John Brown stationed beside an American flag.

“Except instead of John Brown’s head,” said Daniel Perez, a recent KU graduate seated across from Stanley, “it was (Mark) Mangino’s.”

Most recently, however, Stanley and his group — which go by the moniker “KU Heads for Victory” — have earned quite a bit of attention for their adaptation of the John Steuart Curry mural “Tragic Prelude”, which depicts the aforementioned Brown clutching a rifle in one hand and Kansas’ 2008 men’s basketball national championship trophy in the other.

This was unveiled during the Jayhawks’ 90-65 men’s basketball victory over Missouri last Sunday, much to the pleasure of the game’s sold-out crowd, members of which snapped countless pictures of the sign and showered its creators with a good amount of praise.

“One guy was like, ‘I’ll pay for that. Just name a price and I’ll pay for it,’” said Stanley. “And I’m just like, ‘No, sir, we worked on this all night; it’s not for sale.’”

The success of the John Brown poster seems to have had an energizing effect on the “Heads”, who, as students entered and exited the Union building and campus busses roared nearby, took turns describing the effort involved in creating such a notable piece of work.

As it happens, said Stanley, the John Brown poster owes much of its existence to a snowstorm last weekend that left highways icy and made long-distance travel difficult. Originally, Stanley had planned to drive to Overland Park to visit family on Saturday, before returning for the Kansas basketball game the following day. Unable to do so — and finding himself with a day’s worth of hours to kill — he decided a good use of that time would be to put together a 14-foot-wide poster of John Brown.

After calling a group of friends — including Perez and current KU students Andy Lavin, Grace Sha and Jo Cox — for assistance, the group kicked off what would prove to be a fairly strenuous, 12-hour poster-making process. In a nutshell, that process went like this: group members printed off the 171 sheets of paper that would make up the poster (a $41 cost), tracked down a large deal of cardboard ($10), glued each sheet onto said cardboard, got kicked out of a Kansas University library, went to Marvin Hall, ordered Jimmy John’s, took a break to go to a party, realized after the party that they needed more tape, drove to Wal-Mart, discovered that a display TV set was running a replay of Kansas’ 2008 NCAA national championship victory over Memphis, decided to watch it, purchased the tape and got home in time to fall into bed by about 5 a.m., four hours before they were due at Allen Fieldhouse to ensure their seating arrangements would be adequate.

Not long after, the poster — despite a few game-day kinks — was welcomed with a standing ovation when it appeared on the video board before the start of the Jayhawks’ victory.

This wide-spread popularity has not seemed to result, however, in visions of grandeur among members of the group. While their most recent work has been compared to the famous “Beware of the Phog” sign — the brainchild of two former KU architecture students who fashioned a sign out of 10 stolen shower curtains in 1988, a replica of which now hangs in the Allen Fieldhouse rafters — the “Heads” insists that the Phog sign will likely never be topped — even by them.

“We were certainly inspired by that,” Stanley admits. “But that’s obviously the greatest sign ever, so we weren’t competing with it.”

It would be understandable if, following last week’s inspiring performance, group members decided to rest on their sign-making laurels, but the whispers out of the “Heads” camp indicate that this is not exactly the case. For Saturday’s 3 p.m. Kansas-Texas matchup at Allen Fieldhouse, the final home game of the 2008-09 season, the group is apparently going all-out in its pre-game preparations.

Concrete details of the forthcoming plan are limited, but, as Stanley pointed out, leaning forward in his seat for emphasis, “We’re planning something that is going to put the (John Brown) poster to shame.”

Right about then, a student wearing a T-shirt and a pair of baggy cargo shorts walked by, noticed Stanley, and wandered over to say hello. He also added, before departing with an excited grin on his face, “I’ve been hearing some of the planning going on for the game Saturday, and I’ve heard good things!”

A few moments later, after the student had disappeared, Stanley admitted that he had never met that person in his life, but said it was a good illustration of the bond shared by the more gung-ho supporters of Kansas athletics.

Stanley then spent a few more minutes describing the particulars of the John Brown sign, which is currently folded up in his car, before gathering his things and politely excusing himself.

Before leaving, he summed up his group’s most recent work this way: “We were just motivated to do something huge and to use that platform to make a sign. It’s such a great rivalry, and we just thought that the John Brown mural had such a great significance.”

“Also,” he added, “we figured it would be the best way to stick it to Missouri.”


Eurekahwk 12 years, 11 months ago

"they unveiled the notorious “John Browngino” poster"

It can't be notorious, this is the first I've heard of it. Maybe my head was just in the clouds that day, but this notorious poster didn't get a lot of press.

In other news: These guys are going to have to part ways with the poster like it or not, it belongs in a display case at Allen Fieldhouse. That's the price you pay when you create awesomeness.

jaybate 12 years, 11 months ago

I can foresee this sort of signage becoming annoying, but man the John Brown sign is a great one that ought to be placed in the arena some place permanently!

It works on many levels I will not bore people with.

It is now part of the living myth.

No higher praise.

kupopp 12 years, 11 months ago

I am sitting in my office on an island in the Caribbean looking at the John Brown picture posted prominently on the wall. My co-workers knew nothing of KU or Bloody Kansas before I posted it. All now hate Mizzou.

My congratulations to those responsible for their imagination and execution of the adaptation of the "Tragic Prelude" painting.

Rock Chalk!

Alan Braun 12 years, 11 months ago

I would love to see this poster on a wall in AFH somewhere. Have the students offered to donate it to the Athletic Dept, or has the Athletic Dept attempted to get it?

Michael Pannacciulli 12 years, 11 months ago

hilarious article...good Friday let's get with the "Heads" and help ensure a victory over the UT cattle!!!!!!!!

ROCK CHALK!!!!!!!!!!

Mary Kay Scanlon 12 years, 11 months ago

My daughter texted me from the game about this was awesome!! Unfortunately the camera crew for CBS never got a good shot of it. I can't wait to see what they come up with Saturday!

HawkDigestCom 12 years, 11 months ago

It's a shame there isn't an image of the John Browngino poster on the internet. It was truly awesome. Not as big as the National Championship poster, but still fantastic. You can see it in the Border War documentary that was on Metro Sports. I need to snap a photo of it and post.

keith horinek 12 years, 11 months ago

a few years ago I made the decision to sit in the student section during a game. (a co-worker suggested it would be awsome to "feel" the intensity coming from the students during the game.) being one who gets totally immersed in the game and all the stats, I soon realized that was a huge mistake. I never once got to see any of the game, as I could not see over the students much less hear anything. don't get me wrong, AFH is the best place in America to watch a college BB game and I would do it again if given the chance. these students may have started something here that has the potential to spread across the entire country. the biggest problem I see with the large signs, is blocking the visibilty of fans behind it but if the signs stay in the student section I'm sure they wouldn't mind at all.

JayViking 12 years, 11 months ago

John Browngino poster may not have been covered by the media, but if you were a student (especially at that game) you SAW the poster. It was RAD.

wi_jayhawk 12 years, 11 months ago

Actually, I saw the poster on CBS that day, before they decided that the Tenn/FL game was better way to draw viewers. I think that was hilarious and hope that CBS will show their newest plans this weekend!

KGphoto 12 years, 11 months ago

Incredible sign! Though I doubt it ever gets much media. Too risky for CBS or any other network to paint Missouri as a pro-slavery school. But that makes it even better to me. It's just between Kansas and Missouri.

Signs or no signs. I want my Super Powers back. I want Sherron to find his Tron. Cole to find his Kong. And for coach to find his Self.

A 5-time champ deserves a proper send off. Cut Kleinmann loose and show Texas what orange was meant to be.

Get.. After... Texas!

chicagoeddie 12 years, 11 months ago

i put it up as my wallpaper as soon as i saw the picture on the site. can someone make it bigger so it takes up my whole screen? that would be awesome!

rock chalk!

zissou 12 years, 11 months ago

Nothing better than being a student in the Phog.

Jared Grillot 12 years, 11 months ago

Absolutely awesome sign... it will be great to see what they've got for tomorrow. I know about some big signs, been part of some big signs, and yes, sometimes it irritates those around you if its in their way. That's why you have to let them know ahead of time, get them in on it, work out a deal. These guys obviously know what they're doing, so I'm sure the people around them are at least in some way ok with it.

KGphoto - "Cut Kleinmann loose and show Texas what orange was meant to be." Freakin' awesome. Ginger power.

Fire it up, Hawks!

P.S. - CBS better not screw us out of this one. >:(

Tim Orel 12 years, 11 months ago

Chicagoeddie, depending upon your operating system, you can tell it to "stretch" your wallpaper to fit. The LJW has wallpapers at, or so they say, because the links don't work for me or a commenter on another thread. I have a 19" monitor and the picture looks great, if a bit squished in proportion.

Clarence Haynes 12 years, 11 months ago

KU Mom....The CBS analysts flunked history!

Jared Grillot 12 years, 11 months ago

Yeah... they have the page to download, but the pictures links are broken. Anybody know what's up?

art_lafleur66 12 years, 11 months ago

Sadly, the creators must not profit from this. That poster belongs to the ages.

In other news: These guys are going to have to part ways with the poster like it or not, it belongs in a display case at Allen Fieldhouse. That's the price you pay when you create awesomeness.

sevenyearhawk 12 years, 11 months ago

I was very fortunate to be at the game last weekend ...

when they unveiled that sign I got goosebumps - and the crowd went freaking BERSERK!!!

Hawkin8r 12 years, 11 months ago

I posted feedback at the bottom of the download page so hopefully they'll fix it. The images download OK but don't display once you get them so they probably uploaded them as ASCII instead of binary or something goofy like that.

Jonathan Kealing 12 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, we're looking into the wallpapers problem. Hope to have it fixed soon. And then we'll make the download link way more prominent.

Jonathan Kealing Online editor / Lawrence Journal-World / 6News

Jonathan Kealing 12 years, 11 months ago

Wanted you all to be the first to know, the wallpapers are fixed:

Invalid extension. You might have to hit refresh if you've already clicked and gotten them in error. Let me know if you still have problems.

Jonathan Kealing

true_fan 12 years, 11 months ago

I want a t-shirt with the John Brown poster on the front and the "Pay Heed" banner text on the back. Does ANYONE have a decent resolution photo of the banner they can post? It needs to be clear enough to transfer to a t-shirt.

And, as an alum who bleeds crimson & blue and gets goosebumps just thinking about AFH, THANK YOU and KUDOS to the students who continue to make AFH the absolute freaking MECCA of college basketball.

Rock Chalk Jay Hawk - KU

Now let's go de-horn some Longhorns!!

hometownhawk 12 years, 11 months ago

For the record, although this kid did make the poster last week, John Browngino was NOT their idea. It was made by a different group of students last year. But young Mr. Stanley sure does love him some attention.

100 12 years, 11 months ago

Thanks to this sign, everyone in the world who loves college basketball, and watched that game, now hates Missouri.

That sign says everything.

Missouri kills us for slavery, kicking off the civil war. We stand proud and persevere, thanks to John Brown & Abe Lincoln, one guy with great shooting skills, the other a great coach.

Keep up the good work sign guy...

Tiesto 12 years, 11 months ago

Absolutely love the sign and the effort these guys put into it. However the article is wrong saying that these guys came up with the idea for the large cutouts 4 years ago as freshman. I'm not sure who did, but we had large cutouts of the players when I was a freshman in 2000, I'm sure it was even around before that. Either way RCJH!!!

TtownHawk 12 years, 11 months ago

Here's how smart they are over at The Missourian. Under the photo it says "The original did not include the trophy the reproduction shows abolitionist John Brown holding in his right hand." The trophy is in John Brown's left hand, unless the gun is considered the trophy across the border?

Hawkish4bigM 12 years, 11 months ago

Love the poster. Can we do one for football? How about the halftime score of the last NU game at Lawrence for this year's game?

Funny, Ttown. I think you have it. The gun would be the Trophy to any Slaver.

KUFan90 12 years, 11 months ago

Not only that Ttown, but did they really need to add that clarification that the origial mural didn't include the Natl Champ trophy? duh...

Although, I suppose it IS an article intended for the typical Missouri reader. I guess that answers it.

Tony Bandle 12 years, 11 months ago

This mural opens up all kinds of possibilities:

Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel, Creation of Man, you could put a KU jersey on Adam and have God handing him the NCAA Trophy

Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper, could show Jesus surrounded by Wilt, Jo Jo, Clyde, Danny, Kirk, Nick, Darnel V., Paul, Mario, Bud, Sherron and Raef with a playbook and chalkboard in hand.

Poussin's The Rape of the Sabine Women could show all the Romans in KU uniforms while the women are dressed in the various uniforms of the other Big Twelve teams.

The possibilities are endless!!!!!

100 12 years, 11 months ago

"The Last Supper"....

Perfect idea for UT game.

Lance Hobson 12 years, 11 months ago

I love the quote from the Miseryrian! What a bunch of clowns.

CBS should not have a problem with it, it's a takeoff of a famous painting - no big deal.

Benjamin Clay Jones 12 years, 11 months ago

Wish I was sitting in MY office on an island in the Caribbean . . . .

Jeff Kilgore 12 years, 11 months ago

Hey, Speak! Go outside! It's probably within 10 degrees of the Carib, and you have Clinton Lake, not some dirty old ocean!

Brandon Perkins 12 years, 11 months ago

hey dougie...I came up with the Giant Mangino Head....where is my article? LOL

I did like the giant mural though...goosebumps all the way...

Jack Wilson 12 years, 11 months ago

This was the greatest sign ever. Period. It needs to be in glass at Allen.

tsweat 12 years, 11 months ago

Idk if andrew stanley likes attention but he definately likes being loud and being a great ku fan, which sometimes gets him attention. He said the new sign is bigger and cooler than the john brown sign, its gunna be sweet

Benjamin Clay Jones 12 years, 11 months ago

I'm in Michigan, but it's even temperate here today! Still, Lake Michigan doesn't compare to the Caribbean.

kupopp 12 years, 10 months ago

Just another day in Paradise!

It's a dirty job, but-----

The downside is that we don't get many KU games on television. And when KU is on a pay-per-view, all the online radio stations get blocked, so it bites having to "watch" a game on Yahoo or CNNSI. Gotta get a Slingbox for one of my nephews.

I do wish that Jayhawk Radio would shut up during the Alma Mater and the Rock Chalk Chant. Why do they have to share their insight of the game during what I consider one of the highlights?

Sean Rodger 12 years, 10 months ago

I have a pic of the John Browngino sign from the College Gameday Live/Border War from two years ago. It was good - wish I knew how to post it.

You can try this to see if it works, but I don't know if it will:

jaybate 12 years, 10 months ago

Frankly, Nick Krug's photo is what makes the poster so great, not the poster itself.

We are looking at a photo that has done for Kansas Basketball what Joe Rosenthal's photo of the the men raising the flag on Iwo Jima did for the Marines and America in WWII.

It is a perfect moment of a living myth captured with near ideal composition and resolution in a photograph.

Nick Krug is the real genius at work here. The sign is just a near copy of WPA (Work's Progress Administration for the kiddies) muralist John Steuart Curry's great regional impressionist painting of John Brown titled "Tragic Interlude." The content of the painting, a myth of John Brown's abolitionist activities resonates within this photo as it emerges from the crowd of students, who are themselves caught up both in the living myth of Kansas basketball, which is itself caught up in yet another tragic interlude in American history--the unfolding of a great economic crisis almost certainly prologue to yet another great and terrible impending war.

The wall paper you want is the Nick Krug photograph, not the sign itself.

This photograph should win a Pulitzer, but because it captures a sporting event it probably will never even be nominated. More's the pity.

Jared Grillot 12 years, 10 months ago

You know, Jaybate, I don't know if I'm in for the Pulitzer, but I have to agree, this particular shot was absolutely perfect. This will definitely be a "Remember that time...?" moment for everyone involved. I had two brothers at that game, and I was never more jealous of anything in my entire life!

Bryan Summers 12 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate hit it on the head; the poster is awesome, but the photo captures the moment.

Eurekahwk 12 years, 10 months ago

I feel really sorry for the east coaster who actually wrote that article for the Columbia newspaper. I mean, wow. Those people back east really don't know much. No wonder UNC and Duke actually think their rivalry is bigger. Because all of their media outlets think the same way this Bowers guy does. I bet he doesn't have very many friends in Missouri after writing that bs story.about how it is not really the Border "War". Yeah, Mr. Bowers, it really is. Go back to the history books in case you missed it. Look under, the man who stoked the flames and inspired a revolution against slavery. And if Bowers doesn't think slavery still exists, he has never worked a day at Wal-Mart, which was founded by Columbia,Mo born brothers.

KGphoto 12 years, 10 months ago

jaybate: Well said. You know I agree.

Also to be mentioned, the cropping. The original doesn't have near the impact of what's posted above. This crop is absolutely panoramic, which is not only pleasing to our eyes, but incredibly important to the motion of Big John's arms. Just more big-ups to Nick for truly understanding what works.

You'll never get a wallpaper that feels like this photo does, because computer screens, even wide screens, are nowhere near wide enough. So you'll have to down size it and have blank space above and below, which is still cool.

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