USC Undercover

Article excerpt

I came home from work and told my daughter that we were planning a magazine cover on the "war on Christmas" and that I had a great idea for an illustration. Go and round up all your menacing-looking toys, I said. Meanwhile I dug out the toy Christmas crib set.

Mary Kate surrounded the crib figures with every armed, scary-looking toy she could find. In the front lines were platoons of green plastic GIs from World War II aiming their rifles, politically incorrect cowboys and Indians, knights in armor with lances leveled, pirates clasping knives and cutlasses. Star Wars hero Han Solo manned the controls of a futuristic cannon, flanked by a squadron of stormtroopers pointing weapons. Enemies of Batman and Spiderman joined the lines. The Holy Family was surrounded. (Batman questioned whether even he and Robin could handle this dire situation. Should he stoop to calling in the Man of Steel from Metropolis?)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I hauled all the toys to work for the next day's title meeting, in which the editors decide illustrations and titles for articles in next month's issue. Art Director Tom Wright, miraculously, had the same idea I had. What you see on this month's cover is his variation on the setup that my daughter laid out on our dining room floor.

U.S. CATHOLIC has been famous for its "concept" covers since we began running photos on our covers in 1976. We routinely win press association awards for them. …