Monday, July 16, 2018

Edmund Dulac Book Illustrations

Edmund Dulac (1882-1953) was yet another artist who abandoned a professional career track (law, in his case) for art. He also left his native country (France) for another (England) where he became a noted book illustrator. His Wikipedia entry is here, but a much more useful source for art fans is this post by Jim Vadeboncoeur that offers insights regarding how changes in printing technology worked to Dulac's advantage.

It seems that Dulac's book illustration heyday was between 1905 and the start of the Great War -- a relatively short span. His career continued with moderate success until his death.

Those heyday illustrations were mostly for classical fantasies, often Orientalist subjects. They are charmingly done, though today's Politically Correct crowd would probably find their usual reasons to hate them.

Take a look at some of them below, if you dare.

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Circe the Enchantress

The Emperor's New Clothes

From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

"Open, Sesame!"

The Fisherman and the Genie

Princess Scheherazade

Thursday, July 12, 2018

One-Eyed Stockton Mulford's One Really Fine Illustration

Stockton Mulford (1886-1960) lost his right eye in an accident when he was seven years old, yet became an illustrator. The best source of information regarding Mulford is David Saunders' Pulp Artists blog. It mentions that it took a while for him to work into becoming a full-time illustrator: he was active from around 1920 to 1946 when he was able to retire. During the Depression he seems to have mostly produced cover art for pulp magazines of various kinds.

Examples of Mulford's art are below. They vary in quality, the pulp art being the lowest. Perhaps because the pay was poor he put less time into those pieces. Judging from the examples below, he seems to have done his best work during the mid-1920s.

There is one outstanding illustration that he never came close to equaling, so far as I can tell at present. Sort of like the novelist who has only one great book. You'll find it at the bottom of the scroll.

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Delineator cover - July, 1924

Argosy cover - 2 February 1924

Interior story illustration, American Magazine - February 1928

The plain area at the top suggests this is cover art for a magazine or perhaps a book (it provides room for a title, etc.).

Liberty Magazine cover - 3 June 1933

Black Mask cover - April 1937
An example of Mulford's pulp magazine cover art.

Adventure Magazine cover - May 1942
Probably painted a couple months after the Pearl Harbor attack. At that time, the only major encounter between the American and Japanese armies was in the Philippines, on Bataan Peninsula.

The Long Call - Everybody's Magazine cover art - April 1924
This is a fine illustration. In my opinion, only the Delineator cover art and the American story illustration come close -- but not very close. I wonder why Mulford wasn't able to consistently do this well.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Alden McWilliams' Tom Corbett, Space Cadet Comic Books

Alden McWilliams (1916-1993) was one of those comparatively rare comics artists of his generation who could draw people convincingly. I wrote about his work on the Twin Earths comic strip here. Some biographical information can be found here and here.

One of McWilliams' projects was creating content for Tom Corbett, Space Cadet comic books. For detailed information about those comic books, click here.

McWilliams did cover art for eleven of those comic books, but interior art for only the first three. Those were issued February, May and August of 1952, which suggests that he did his work from the late summer of 1951 into the winter of 1952 (considering production lead-times). His Twin Earths daily comic strip debuted 16 June 1952, so he probably began working on it no later than early April of that year. Therefore, if there was any overlap for those projects aside from creating covers, it was minimal, so McWilliams could maintain the high quality of his work.  A strong possibility is that he chose to drop doing Space Cadet interior content when he got the Twin Earths gig: otherwise, he might have contunued Space Cadet.

Tom Corbett, Space Cadet started as a television show that began airing in 1950 and later bounced around several TV networks. This meant that the comic books had to portray the characters as personified by the show's actors. That is, McWilliams was doing portrait art as part of comic book art.

Below are some scans I made of the second and third issues of the comic book. They include the cover, one interior colored page and one page without color (the latter was always on the inside cover). Click on the images to enlarge.

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Inside cover of the August 1952 issue. It shows the leading cast members of the TV show who McWilliams had to depict convincingly in the comic books to satisfy fans.

Cover of the May 1952 issue.

Color page from May 1952.

Black & white page from May 1952.

Cover of August 1952 issue.

August 1952 color page.

Black & white page, August 1952.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Up Close: Moreau's "Salome Dancing before Herod"

Gustave Moreau (1826-1878) was something of a Symbolist whose later painting style is a taste I can't seem to acquire. Your reactions to him might well differ.

Background on him and his career is here.

The Hammer Museum in the Westwood district of Los Angeles and affiliated with nearby UCLA holds one of his most important works,"Salome Dancing to Herod." This subject, and the closely related one of John the Baptist's head, have been grist for many artists over the centuries. It can be interesting to compare their interpretations, but for the purposes of this post, the focus is Moreau's version of the dance.

The museum had an exhibit in 2012 related to the painting, and here is the Los Angeles Times' art critic's reaction to it.

I visited the Hammer in 2010 and took a few photos of the painting.

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This is the museum's image of the painting, I think.

Here is my establishment shot showing how my camera captured it given the lighting conditions at the time.

Detail view showing the main characters. Salome's dance seems pretty static, according to Moreau. Click on the image to enlarge.

Close-up of Salome. Her headdress is oddly shaped and makes her face seem somewhat flat. I'm no expert on ancient costumes, so I don't know whether or not this was Moreau's invention. Note that the woman to the other side of the king also has a high headdress.

My photo was slightly out of focus, as often happens when in museums using automatic mode. I tried to sharpen things, but it's not worth enlarging this because it's still a bit blurred.