A portrait of Hunter S. Thompson’s alongside a 308 pounds marlin he caught while fishing in Hawaii.

The Curse of Lono by Hunter S. Thompson, New York: Bantam Books, 1983, p. 151. Large format retrieved from Baron’s Blog.

The photo shows American gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson on the Kailua Pier in Kona, Hawaii (notice the hat). Thompson is standing alongside a 308 pounds marlin he caught while fishing aboard the Humdinger. In his left hand, he is holding what is described in the previous chapter as “a short-handled Samoan war club” which was used to kill the beast. The whole story is told in letters Thompson wrote to his friend, the famous illustrator Ralph Steadman, to whom the photo is dedicated: “To Ralph, We Killed like champions”. Thompson signed the photo “Lono”, a Hawaiian deity he believes to be the resurrection of.

A slightly cropped and unsigned version of the photo also exist and is hosted by the M+B art gallery: see “Hunter with Marlin”, 1980, photographer unknown, chromogenic print, 30 in. x 20 in. The M+B gallery has a nice collection of photos by or of Hunter S. Thompson.

The story about Thompson and the marlin is attested both in Ralph Steadman’s book The Joke’s Over: Bruised Memories: Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson, and Me (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007, p. 224) and in Jay Cowan’s Hunter S. Thompson: An Insider’s View of Deranged, Depraved, Drugged Out Brilliance (Globe Pequot, 2009, p. 167).

For more information about The curse of Lono, see Taschen’s page for the reedition it produced in 2005:

The Curse of Lono is to Hawaii what Fear and Loathing was to Las Vegas: the crazy tales of a journalist’s “coverage” of a news event that ends up being a wild ride to the dark side of Americana. Originally published in 1983, Curse features all of the zany, hallucinogenic wordplay and feral artwork for which the Hunter S. Thompson/Ralph Steadman duo became known and loved. This curious book, considered an oddity among Hunter’s oeuvre, was long out of print, prompting collectors to search high and low for an original copy.

“The Hook Up”, an original illustration by Ralph Steadman for Hunter S. Thompson’s book ‘The Curse of Lono’. Retrieved from Taschen.
“The Hook Up”, an original illustration by Ralph Steadman for Hunter S. Thompson’s book ‘The Curse of Lono’. Retrieved from Taschen.
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