Can you spot every 2015 pop culture reference in this giant illustration?

Face front, true believers! Beutler Ink has once again gathered the biggest stories of the past year—from soaring triumphs (Pluto flyby) to sobering tragedies (Paris attacks) to stomach-turning travesties (Go Set a Watchman)—and packaged them together into a single, sprawling illustration. Loyal readers will note that this is our third such end-of-year visual compilation. Our best ever? Your words, not ours, friends.

The glorious graphic is embedded below. Click here to purchase a copy. And scroll further down to learn how our team of top talent decided which heroes and villains made the cut, and to see an illustrated answer key identifying all of the depicted characters and events.

Excelsior,
— Beutler Ink

[click image to enlarge]

Behind the scenes

Our list of pop culture-and-news items for 2015 began developing as soon as our “Here’s to 2014!” graphic was posted last December. Viral content never sleeps, after all, and our team of bleary-eyed news hounds and social sleuths were adding items to our shared Google Doc as far back as Left Shark. The list really started coming together over the summer, and by the fall we were ready to start to upvoting the best and saying sayonara to the rest (we miss you already, Crying Jordan meme).

Screenshot 2015-12-08 09.51.28

Characters and events

We made a special effort this year to include individuals—particularly women—who might be overlooked or simply ignored in other year-end wrap-ups. For example, we knew we had to include B.B. King in the “RIP” section at the bottom of the graphic. But we decided that the lesser-known musician Jean Ritchie—who became known as “The Mother of Folk” in the 1950s—should be highlighted alongside him. Ritchie’s status at the time of her death was much smaller than King’s, but her contributions to Appalachian music and scholarship shouldn’t be overshadowed.

The inclusion of activist and civil rights pioneer Grace Lee Boggs in the same RIP section (back row to the right) reflects a similar appraisal. The New York Times, Washington Post, and event President Obama—a fellow community organizer—recognized the passing of Boggs in early October with kind words and praise. But most year-end retrospectives will ignore her in favor of more familiar celebrities. This is unfortunate, as Boggs’ accomplishments deserve to be better known and studied by citizens interested in social movements and the fight against inequality.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 09.51.42

Backdrop

Next, we decided on a setting. We were torn between a Mad Max-esque desert vista and the tropical island from Jurassic World. It would have been fun to incorporate different characters and events into the Mad Max caravans—e.g. Left Shark could have taken the role of the flaming guitar player, and Donald Trump would have been a natural Immortan Joe. But we ultimately chose the “Main Street” setting from Jurassic World as it allowed us maximum flexibility in depicting a wide variety of characters and events.

For example, no matter what setting we chose, we were struggling to figure out how to best depict the 2016 presidential candidates—especially the sprawling GOP field, which at one point featured fifteen would-be nominees. The park setting provided a fun solution: we placed the candidates’ heads in jars—Futurama-style—that resemble the incubators within the Hammond Creation Lab.

The Main Street-setting also let us use a newsstand to depict some of the year’s bigger news and media stories via recognizable magazine and book covers. We included the New York magazine cover featuring 35 of Bill Cosby’s accusers, the Caitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair cover, the David Beckham “Sexiest Man of the Year” People magazine cover, the Paper magazine Marilyn Manson issue (one of the year’s more visually distinct covers), and copies of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman and Jonathan Franzen’s Purity. We also included a magazine version of the Drudge Report’s bear vs. Leonardo DiCaprio freakout.





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With the characters, events, and setting selected, it was time to move into illustration. Our previous two “Here’s to” graphics each had a unique visual style reflective of their different artists—Mario Zucca in 2013 and Noah Smith in 2014. This year, we hooked up with the very talented Luke McGarry, a Los Angeles-by-way-of-London-based designer who has done previous collage-style work for OC Weekly and Goldenvoice. Luke has a magical ability to make every single character he draws pop off of the page, as his work here clearly demonstrates. His early sketch of the graphic hit all of the marks we were hoping for, and as his submissions progressed from pencil to pen it was obvious to us that the graphic was going to look amazing.

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We always have fun putting this project together, and we’re very proud of this one. Please get in touch with us if you liked the graphic, hated the graphic, or just want to talk to us about our work more generally. We love producing fun content that gets brands noticed—just like the Boston Man noticed an amazing “sea monstah” on a magical September afternoon. Look at this thing, Jay! We gotta call the aquarium or something, bro. That thing’s just dead.

An illustrated answer key is included below, along with a full list of people and events included in the graphic. How many can you identify?

2015guide

    1. Robert Durst admits to murder in HBO documentary The Jinx
    2. Fetty Wap
    3. Mr. Robot debut
    4. Jon Stewart leaves The Daily Show
    5. David Letterman leaves The Late Show
    6. Stephen Colbert takes over The Late Show
    7. RIP BB King
    8. RIP Jean Ritchie
    9. RIP Jackie Collins
    10. RIP Leonard Nimoy
    11. RIP Stuart Scott
    12. RIP Yvonne Craig (Batgirl)
    13. RIP Wes Craven
    14. RIP Christopher Lee
    15. RIP Yogi Berra
    16. RIP Rowdy Roddy Piper
    17. RIP David Carr
    18. RIP Darryl Dawkins
    19. RIP Moses Malone
    20. RIP Grace Lee Boggs
    21. RIP Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor (Motörhead drummer)
    22. RIP Scott Weiland
    23. RIP Oliver Sacks
    24. Google creates its new parent company, Alphabet Inc.
    25. Paris Terror Attacks
    26. Charlie Hebdo Attack
    27. UCC Shooting
    28. Black Lives Matter campaigns against violence
    29. Starbucks red cup controversy
    30. #NetflixAndChill
    31. All 10 seasons of Friends released on Netflix
    32. Drake accused of having ghostwriter, but “Hotline Bling” still breaks the internet
    33. Future tops charts with What a Time to Be Alive and DS2
    34. Ryan Adams covers Taylor Swift’s 1989
    35. The Weeknd tops the charts
    36. Adele releases huge album after three-year hiatus
    37. Ronda Rousey knocked out by Holly Holm, ending Rousey’s 3-year reign as champion
    38. Patriots win Super Bowl amidst DeflateGate allegations
    39. Left Shark dances to its own drummer
    40. Controversy surrounds publication of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman
    41. Drudge Report claims Leonardo DiCaprio is ‘raped by a bear’ in The Revenant
    42. Caitlyn Jenner completes transition
    43. Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Purity, is released
    44. David Beckham is People’s “Sexiest Man Alive”
    45. Women who were drugged and assaulted by Bill Cosby pose together for New York magazine
    46. Marilyn Manson on the cover of Paper Magazine
    47. David Cameron’s “Piggate” scandal
    48. Taiwanese Animators tackle Gawker‘s editorial implosion
    49. Minions released
    50. Syrian refugee crisis
    51. Mars Rover discovers water
    52. The four stiffs that also play for the Cavaliers
    53. FIFA corruption case
    54. Pitch Perfect 2 (depicted: Fat Amy)
    55. Reddit becomes obsessed with a button, panics after AMA coordinator Victoria Taylor is fired
    56. True Detective 2 is disappointing
    57. Boston man can’t comprehend a sunfish
    58. Matt Damon stars in The Martian
    59. LeBron James nearly wins NBA championship by himself
    60. Warriors win NBA Championship
    61. Serena Williams completes “Serena-slam” (four Grand Slam victories in a row) before finally losing in semifinals of US Open
    62. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden decides not to enter the 2016 race
    63. Dem candidate Martin O’Malley
    64. Dem candidate Bernie Sanders
    65. Dem candidate Hillary Clinton (reading The Skimm)
    66. GOP candidate Rick Perry
    67. GOP candidate Marco Rubio
    68. GOP candidate Rick Santorum
    69. GOP candidate Donald Trump
    70. GOP candidate Scott Walker  
    71. GOP candidate Lindsey Graham
    72. GOP candidate Mike Huckabee
    73. GOP candidate Bobby Jindal
    74. GOP candidate Rand Paul
    75. GOP candidate George Pataki
    76. GOP candidate Jeb! Bush
    77. GOP candidate Ben Carson
    78. GOP candidate Chris Christie
    79. GOP candidate Ted Cruz
    80. GOP candidate Carly Fiorina
    81. Chris Paul rides banana boat
    82. DeAndre Jordan free agency saga plays out on Twitter
    83. Chandler Parsons’ airplane emoji tweet
    84. Chandler Parsons
    85. Kylie Jenner runs social media
    86. Cecil the Lion killed by American dentist
    87. Mad Men finale
    88. Jon Hamm & Jennifer Westfeldt split
    89. Gwen Stefani & Gavin Rossdale split
    90. Jon Snow seemingly dies in Game of Thrones
    91. Kermit & Miss Piggy split
    92. Zayn leaves One Direction
    93. Bill Simmons throws bombs at NFL, fired from ESPN
    94. Anti-Vax crusaders bring us back to 19th century
    95. Fifty Shades of Grey hits theaters
    96. Jurassic World hits theaters
    97. Mockingjay Pt 2 / Jennifer Lawrence
    98. Amy Schumer has a great year
    99. #squadgoals
    100. The shifting identities of Rachel Dolezal
    101. Ta-Nehisi Coates wins Genius Grant, authors Black Panther comic
    102. Apple Watch
    103. Ashley Madison leak
    104. The Dress sparks internet-wide debate
    105. #FreeTheNipple
    106. Planned Parenthood defunding / Colorado PP shooting
    107. Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet is awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize
    108. Super Mario Maker
    109. Tu YouYou awarded Nobel Prize in Medicine
    110. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
    111. Apple Pencil released
    112. Taylor Swift, “Bad Blood”
    113. Kendrick Lamar releases To Pimp a Butterfly and is featured on “Bad Blood”
    114. Supreme Court ruling makes same-sex marriage a right
    115. Empire debuts and is smash hit
    116. Narcos debuts
    117. Viola Davis makes moving Emmy speech
    118. Llama chase
    119. Straight Outta Compton released
    120. Pope Francis visits Cuba and U.S.
    121. Kim Davis refuses to issue marriage licenses, maybe meets Pope
    122. Boston breaks winter snow records
    123. Ahmed Mohamed, the “clock kid”
    124. California drought forces water rationing
    125. USA wins Women’s World Cup
    126. Kansas City Royals win World Series
    127. Chicago Blackhawks win Stanley Cup
    128. Margarita Guy aka Jimmy Buffett cameo in Jurassic World
    129. Mad Max released (depicted: “Doof Wagon”)
    130. New Yorker article about the Cascadia Subduction Zone terrifies the Pacific Northwest
    131. Brian Williams (NBC News) and Bill O’Reilly (FOX News) face fabrication charges
    132. American Sniper is a huge hit
    133. Pentagon opens all combat positions to women (depicted: first two female Rangers)
    134. Iran Nuclear Deal
    135. Greece’s Debt Crisis
    136. Pizza Rat
    137. Ant Man released
    138. New Horizon probe completes a Pluto flyby
    139. Nepal experiences deadly earthquake
    140. Birdman wins Oscar
    141. Grantland closes
    142. Kobe announces retirement
    143. New Star Wars film: The Force Awakens
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