Real lightning almost looks like a tree upside down. Yet, the symbol of lightning looks like an impossible staircase.
What does electricity feel like? Please do not get struck by lightning! If have ever experienced an electrical shock, it can feel "sharp" which explains the symbol's edges.
Lightning is comprised of diagonal lines that feel energetic. If you were driving down a road shaped the same as a real bolt of lightning it would be an incredibly bumpy ride.
Look at the similarities of the angles between the lightning and the sports poster. There is an energy to the sports poster. Even the name of the athlete is in a diagonal similiar to the lightning bolt.
Diagonal lines create visual interest.
Notice how the lines in the photo bring out the focus, which is the person holding the umbrella. The lines energetically lead the viewer to where the photographer wants you to see.
Different line types...
Ralph Steadman is an excellent artist. Though some of his line is very energetic and crazy. This is how the term "Gonzo" art was coined. Gonzo art is a highly energetic, over-the-top expression to communicate visually.
At this point in art class, it is not how you draw. Drawing is a skill that will develop over time. It is how you think that is critical. When speaking over the phone, do you care how well someone can dial your number, or is it more important to care about what someone is trying to say?
Steadman's self portrait isn't a demonstration of skill as much as it is a testament to effectiveness. His drawing is an incredible representation to what Gonzo art is. Steadman can draw beautifully, but beautiful isn't always appropriate or necessary. Think, when a building fire is on fire do you want that information sang to you like an opera or do you want it yelled? Which would be more effective?