Friday, January 25, 2013

Society of Illustrators Profile: Jessie Willcox Smith

Born in Philadelphia in 1863, Jessie Willcox Smith love of children motivated her to become a kindergarten teacher, who fortunately for us at the age of seventeen was invited to to act as a chaperone while her cousin gave art lessons to a young male professor. From this encounter, Smith quickly discovered she enjoyed drawing more than teaching, so she enrolled in Mrs. Sarah Peter's School of Design for Women. She also attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Art studying under Thomas Eakins, but found the atmosphere to dour and began to illustrate her first professional work for the May 1888 issue of St. Nicholas Magazine. Heavily influenced by one of her teachers from her brief time with the Drexel Institute, Howard Pyle's force, spirit and overall view of illustration was how she wanted to create her pictures thereafter. With a keen eye for detail and her innate feelings about children, helped Smith portray young ones in their most favorable light in the artist's beautifully idealized compositions. Executed in mixed media with her delicate use of color, the illustrations appeared in all the popular magazines of the day including, Collier's, Good Housekeeping, Scribner's, Century, and Woman's Home Companion. Jessie's many illustrations for children's books have become classics including her "Alice in Wonderland" and "Little Red Riding Hood" as she did private portrait commissions to augment her substantial income as one of the country's most popular artists of her time.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dell Comics Cover Artist: Ernest Nordli

Born in Salt Lake City in 1912 to Norwegian immigrant parents, Ernest Nordli is best know as an animation designer and layout artist for the best in the business, Walt Disney Studios. Staring with the company in 1936 he served as art director and layout artist on their classic features Dumbo and Fantasia as he also worked on many of the studio's Donald Duck shorts through the mid-1940s. Leaving Disney in the 1950s, "Ernie" as he was called by his friends, worked as a layout artist for some of Chuck Jones finest cartoons. About this same time Nordli did freelance work for Dell Publishing, painting beautiful rendered watercolor Western covers such as Red Ryder Comics #138 and The Cisco Kid #25, both from 1955, shown here for your enjoyment. Finding more full time employment with Walt Disney Studios, Ernest worked on more memorable Disney  features such as Sleeping Beauty and played an important role in the designs of One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Always in demand for his design talent, the artist continued to work on numerous movie and television properties until his sudden death at the young age of fifty-five in April of 1968.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Greatest Adventure: Weird Worlds

Only running for a short ten issues from September 1972 until its demise in November of 1974, Weird Worlds was a science fiction anthology title from DC comics that showcased many of Edgar Rice Burrroughs' properties. Having just received the licensing rights, National dove into the John Carter of Mars series with scripts by Marv Wolfman and illustrations by artist Murphy Anderson, which was moved to this new title from an earlier Tarzan issue. The Pellucidar series was also featured having recently left DC's Korak, Son of Tarzan comic with some excellent art by Alan Weiss, Michael Kaluta, Sal Amendola, and Dan Green. These features ran until issue #7 when it became economically infeasible to continue publishing so many Edgar Rice Burroughs properties, so the story lines later continued in the larger Tarzan Family comic. Now with no Burroughs' characters, Weird Worlds struggled on with more space wielding sword and sorcery under Dennis O'Neil and Howard Chaykin's Iron Wolf which unfortunately never found it audience. Perhaps the nationwide paper shortage did not help, which delayed the last issue for several months before DC decided to cancel the title. Featured below is one of Mike Kaluta's rare DC covers with David Innes and Dian from "At The Earths Core!"

Sunday, January 6, 2013

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Greig Flessel

Creig Valentine Flessel was a pioneer in the Golden Age working in the early days for National Comics on their crime buster Sandman before moving on to have a wide ranging career in illustration, advertisement, and cartoon art. Here is his brief biography he wrote for the National Cartoonist Society...Looking back at a 1972 Album, I find I have not changed a bit. Then a microchip was from a tiny buffalo and a scan was for a far horizon. Cartooning was about the foibles and fantasies of man and still is. Sixty five years of deadlines: pulps, Golden Age of comic books, commercial advertising, Boy's Life covers, Text books, Dixie Dugan, Lil" Abner, Friday Foster, David Crane strips and the ribald Tales of Baron Von Furstinbed. Cartoonist, editors, critics and my family have been kind to me. I have a NCS Silver T Square and the comic book Ink Pot award. Fifty eight years of my beloved wife Marie and Me! Fifty two years at my same address, 103 Bay Drive, Huntington, New York. I was born Feb 2, 1912. My son Peter has a PHD and works with the California Health Department. Daughter, Eugene and grand daughter, Kim do children's book illustrations, and I enjoy my three great grand kids. My latest work is a book "Draw Fifty People" Doubleday, with Lee Ames. It's a best seller at my house.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

An Aslan Sukur Gallery

Born February 10, 1945 in Bafra, a small town along Turkey's Black Sea coast, Aslan Sukur moved to Istanbul with his family in 1962. After dropping out of high school he pursued a career in art even though he had no formal training doing some small magazine assignments to hone his skills before joining comic publisher Tay Yayinlari in 1970. Widely accepted by its founder, Sezen Yalçýner, that a large credit for Tay's success should be given to the lavishly illustrated covers by Sukur since he created the majority of them in his twenty five years with the company. As a youth, the artist was influenced by the work beautiful works of Remzi Türemen and Nehar Tüblek, as Aslan later started to develop his own dynamic compositions for his numerous Tay covers. Painting in quash, usually in an 8.5 x 8 square inch format for the cover image, with masthead added later, Sukur did the most to show the energy and enthusiasm for every situation his hero was caught in. Whether he was painting images of popular American or European characters from Tay's stable of titles, many a young Turk's first impression of the Phantom, Flash Gordon, Zagor or Mister No, came from the brightly colored cover gems. Westerns, jungle themes, space scenes, crime or mystery were all done with the same steady hand that grew better over time on titles such as Tom Braks, Atlantis, Bonanza, Karaoglan, Mandrake, Judas, Mini Ringo, Jeriko, Alaska, and many others. Being able to produce his detailed work fast on the many titles, Aslan illustrated most of his compositions for himself, though he sometimes just reproduced some of the Italian samples he was provided and enjoyed so much, not thinking he could improve on the image from the original publication. In addition for his enormous output for Tay, Sukur found time to do several children's books for various publishers and later created hundreds of pieces for Nile Publications, Golden Books, Revolution and others before chosen to do the covers for the Turkish James Bond series before his retirement from the art field.