Inspired by Ian Frazier’s Coyote v. Acme, Daniel Weil has redesigned five products that will help Wile E. Coyote finally catch the Road Runner.
In his never-ending quest to capture the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote has been a faithful customer of the Acme Company, whose products—Spherical Bombs, Rocket Skates, Spring-Powered Shoes—invariably fail him at the worst possible time. Pentagram’s Daniel Weil has reimagined designs for five of these gadgets, rendered as a series of highly detailed technical diagrams. The drawings were inspired by Ian Frazier’s classic humor essay Coyote v. Acme and accompany a republishing of the article for Pentagram’s annual holiday card.
Diagram for the redesigned Acme Rocket Sled, which now includes anatomical hand grips and a folding footrest.
Originally published in The New Yorker, Coyote v. Acme presents the opening statements of an imaginary lawsuit by Coyote against Acme for his personal injuries caused by the faulty devices, citing 85 occasions in which they “did cause him bodily injury due to defects in manufacture or improper cautionary labeling.” Our holiday greeting reprints Frazier’s essay as a mini legal brief with Weil’s drawings presented as supporting evidence. Weil carefully considered the design of each cartoon product, making sure the contraptions would functionally work.
So who is at fault, Coyote or Acme? Even when pressing his case, Coyote can’t seem to cut a break. Weil’s designs for the gadgets undermine Coyote’s legal claims with special safety features like “screw-in detonator” for the Spherical Bomb and a “weighted armor jacket” to be worn with the Rocket Skates. The look of the diagrams is inspired by the photo-realistic illustrations of the McMaster-Carr hardware catalog. But Wile E. skims over the fine print. As Weil tells Wired Design in a post about the project, “The Coyote, like most males, never reads the instructions.”
Design for Acme Rocket Skates, complete with a special weighted armor jacket for balance and safety.
Spring-Powered Shoes should be used with safety sleeves.
The Acme Spherical Bomb includes a timer key for delayed explosions.
Design for the Acme Burmese Tiger Trap. Tiger sold separately.
Designed by Michael Bierut and Jesse Reed, the Coyote v. Acme holiday book has a proper legal blue back linen-mounted cover with brass loop stitching, and the text is set in the typewriter-like font Pitch. The designers also created an “official” Acme Company emblem that was applied to lab coats for a special reading at a private reception in New York in December.
The Pentagram holiday book resembles a mini legal brief.
Ian Frazier’s essay presents the opening statements of an imaginary lawsuit by Coyote against Acme for his personal injuries.
Opening spread announcing the case.
Type is set in the Pitch font, which resembles typewritten text.
The diagrams are presented as supporting evidence.
The designers created Acme lab coats for a special reading at a reception in New York.
Pentagram Project Team
Product design: Daniel Weil, partner-in-charge and designer. Illustrations by Simon Denzel.
Book design: Michael Bierut, partner-in-charge and designer; Jesse Reed, designer.
Coyote v. Acme © Ian Frazier. First published in The New Yorker, February 26, 1990.