If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you know that characters (especially beloved ones) don’t last long. You also know that it airs on PBS. Public radio and public television stations, such as those affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), produce annual pledge drives that use brief breaks between regular programs to appeal for donations. Of course, National Lampoon appealed to magazine readers to part with their hard-earned funds and buy the January 1973 issue. The humorous cover conceived by Ed Bluestone and photographer Ronald G. Harris would go down in history. (See the original below).
Thus, with all the characters on Downton meeting an early demise and that brilliant cover out there just waiting to be parodied, an idea was born in Wheeler’s head. Mash-up National Lampoon and the PBS pledge drive with a Downton Abbey homage to that most famous of all Lampoon cover gags. He asked me to draw it. I agreed, he colored it, and Violet Crawley would never be viewed the same way again.