For the rich, powerful, famous, and infamous, an official Wall Street Journal hedcut is a bucket list item. The handmade portraits — which have been in use for decades — are instantly recognizable, employing a stipple technique in which the subject's features are recreated using dots of varying sizes and weights. It basically looks like money... and WSJ is all about money.
The images are a throwback to a headier time for the newspaper business, but the Journal is making one small update to accommodate modern pop culture: they're getting animated.
The very first animated hedcut to make the pages is of a puppet version of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia — an interesting choice, certainly — but it wasn't the first to get made. The developers started testing with Grumpy Cat. To quote the Journal's Erin Sparling, when you're testing an internet-tailored product, "you have to start with the core essence of the Internet, which I think is Grumpy Cat."
Grumpy Cat's animated hedcut wasn't to the team's liking, though; publication-ready ones (like Scalia) are made by the Journal's stipple artists, frame by frame. That's dedication.
Expect to see these internet-age hedcuts on WSJ's site from time to time — but obviously, you won't see them in the paper.
I can't think of a stranger or more delightful way for the biggest newspaper in the country to leave physical pages behind.