In case you’re the only person who hasn’t seen Mad Men Yourself yet (have you heard of THE INTERNET?), it’s AMC’s promotional website that lets you create a stylized character and transplant them in the world of Mad Men. In preparation for the third season of the show, I’ve made, like, a hundred of them.
I spoke with Dyna Moe, the New York-based designer and illustrator, whose fine artwork make up the building blocks of Mad Men Yourself’s avatar designs. She became internet famous last year for her brilliant “Mad Men Illustrated” Flickr set.
The Bygone Bureau: How did you get involved with AMC/Mad Men Yourself?
Dyna Moe: I know Mad Men actor Rich Sommer, who plays Harry Crane. He asked me to help him design his Christmas card to the cast and crew during the first season. From that, they had asked me to illustrate a little booklet for the wrap party, which ended up not happening. So I put the drawings from that on Flickr as a week-by-week project for the second season, drawing one for every new episode. It got blogged and re-blogged really heavily and got something like a million and a half views.
Matt Weiner, the show’s creator, told AMC’s team he wanted me making stuff to promote this season, so they hired me officially for a couple of projects, Mad Men Yourself being one of them. The project was actually programmed and put together by AMC’s “interactive media” agency; I just did several hundred little drawings that they adapted and put into the Flash thingee.
Did they give you any hints on what’s happening in season three?
I am working on some season three episode-specific projects, so I’m ahead of the curve on what happens. I can’t say more than that.
Have you seen Jezebel play around with Mad Men Yourself?
I have seen that Jezebel thing. A lot of other blogs are using it too… in two days it’s received amazing saturation. I hope more people fuck around with it and test its limits. I recommend making historical figures and fictional characters from other shows. Also, adding clothes, skin tone, or facial features is optional, so you can make a faceless underpants-clad silver robot if you wanted.
Are you going to continue your “Mad Men Illustrated” set on Flickr this season?
I am drawing this season, but it’s on AMC’s website not Flickr.
Do you have a favorite Mad Men moment?
I love any Mad Men scene where people vomit. Those are my favorite moments.
January Jones is currently my computer’s wallpaper. I’m a little ashamed to admit it; I usually have something abstract or artistic or at least non-representational as my desktop background. In my defense, it’s not the kind of racy pin-up that you’d find sticky-tacked to teenage boys’ dorm room walls, next to, I don’t know, Tanya Chalkin’s “Kiss.”
Still, I’m not a sentimental person, and I haven’t spent the last eleven months obsessing over a piece of what essentially is escapism. I have a life, and it only moves in one direction: forward. I took a trip across the country, needed to get away, think things over. I spent some time ruining my life. I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern.
Has it gotten to the point where I’ve given up bourbon for rye? Not quite yet. But, like I said, I have a picture of January Jones as my computer’s wallpaper. – Bureau Writer Darryl Campbell
To prepare for the third season of Mad Men, I think it’s important that I experience what it was like to be an office girl in the early ’60s, in all its misogynistic and alcohol-soaked glory. I’ve created a list of essential items I’ll need before the season premiere as well as an example of my daily schedule for the workweek pending the start of the season.
- Lucky Strikes – So I can stay fit and trim
- Table Lighter – Zippos aren’t ladylike
- Humidor – A gift for my boss so I can be in his favor without having to sleep with him (maybe)
- Martini Shaker – For my desk drawer
- Lots of Vodka – Morning martinis, silly
- Lots of Gin – Afternoon martinis, silly
- A-line skirt – Only lesbians wear pants
- Corset – Because my ribcage is too big
- Pumps – Because no shoe is more attractive than a pump
- Broach – Because pearls are for the evening
- Large black telephone – Because there aren’t any other colors available
- Typewriter – Necessary equipment for a teacher or secretary (the only two jobs I’m qualified for)
- 6:00 a.m. Wake up and undo my pin curls
- 8:00 a.m. Arrive at work before the boss and gossip with the other office girls
- 10:00 a.m. Talk to the boss’s wife on the telephone and make up a good reason why he never made it home the night before
- 10:15 a.m. Join the boss for a bourbon
- 10:30 a.m. Have a refill
- 12:00 p.m. Have a liquid lunch with the girls
- 2:00 p.m. Type up remaining reports before the buzz is gone
- 4:00 p.m. Join the staff for three happy hour martinis
- 5:00 p.m. Drive home and have a quick glass of wine before preparing a nice meatloaf dinner for my boyfriend, who thinks my name is Tootsie
- 7:00 p.m. Wash my hair
- 8:00 p.m. Have a nightcap
- 9:00 p.m. Pass out on the couch because I’ve had such a long day
– Bureau Writer Caitlin Boersma
Mad Men is appealing because it provides escape into darker corners of human behavior — lust, heavy drinking, salacious gossip — without actually exacting the toll of these pleasures on the viewer. These transgressions are set in 1960s New York City, which also takes on a seedy vibe.
For a different picture of New York, I’ve been reading Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. In this ambitious, sweeping work of fiction, the year is 1941 and a pair of young Jewish cartoonists, one of them a Czech refugee, use the popularity of their craft to wage a proxy war against the Third Reich, hoping to stir public sentiment and compel Americans to also take up the fight. At times this goal seems within reach, as the boys are swept up in the romance and possibility of New York’s diverse, open society. It is a “city of freedom and swing music,” where “the economy was experiencing a renewal not only of sensation of but of perceptible movement in its limbs.”
I plan to finish the novel before the third season of Mad Men begins. On a simple level, comparing the two portrayals of New York City is an exercise in contrast, heightening the particular image cast in each. Of course, the historically astute reader knows all too well that the ecstatic buzz of Kavalier and Clay’s New York will soon end. While dark clouds gather on the horizon of the New York portrayed in the novel, in Mad Men the storm has passed but has left a gritty film. This is why I suspect that when stories have been told, the final impression will reinforce what Chabon calls “one of the sturdiest precepts of the study of human delusion” — “that every golden age is either past or in the offing”. – Bureau Contributing Writer Daniel Adler
In Mad Men’s pilot episode, the audience is introduced to Don Draper as he struggles to conceive a new advertising campaign for Lucky Strike cigarettes. Uninspired, he goes into a meeting with the Lucky Strike execs with nothing — no campaign, no ideas, no plan. Just when it appears that he’s blown the account, ingenuity strikes and he coins the iconic slogan: “It’s Toasted.”
I’m preparing for Mad Men by being like Don Draper — I’m procrastinating. Instead of doing work, I pop Alka-Seltzer and lay down on the couch. When I should be washing dishes, I find myself exercising with an ancient contraption made of springs. I even spent a long time staring at my Purple Heart before beginning this article. I feel irrationally compelled to lash out at and insult the Jewish department store heiress sitting across from me at the coffee shop.
Don Draper taught me that if I put something off long enough, eventually I will be rewarded with brilliance and insight. Why bother preparing for life when the muse will strike just when it’s need most? I’m leaving everything to the last minute from here on out.
I’m also procrastinating on stealing my neighbor’s cable to get AMC. I should have done that weeks ago. – Bureau Contributing Writer Tim Lehman