Christopher King reviews Al Parker book.

May 21, 2015


Al Parker by Manuel Auad

Regarded as one of the leading illustrators of the mid-twentieth century, Al Parker has left an artistic legacy that continues to inspire today, and provides one of the first ‘must have’ art books of 2015.

While Al Parker’s work (alongside other artists such as John Whitcomb and Coby Whitmore) could be criticised for its idealised, even kitsch view of post-war America, it’s difficult not to be seduced by his glamorous visions of high-fashion and happy families. Indeed, his illustrations could be reduced to pure retro escapism placed in today’s context, but overriding all of this is a masterful execution that places Al Parker’s work into the realms of pure art. Through the use of bold shapes, contrasting lines, frames within frames and vibrating patterns, Parker created images that were immediate and jumped off the page. His sense of composition and graphic design, coupled with traditional painting skills and an uncanny ability to place just the right amount of detail (leaving abstracts to play with our imaginations) make them appealing beyond any photo and addictive viewing for illustration fans.

Al Parker: Illustrator, Innovator by Manuel Auad collects hundreds of examples along with archive photographs and essays from David Apatoff, Leif Pengand Stephanie Haboush Plunkett in a tremendous tribute. From magazine covers to advertising work and Parker’s only children’s book (a collaboration with Arthur Miller called Jane’s Blanket), its pages are a testament to his ever evolving style and experimentation in different mediums. The included pages from a 1954 issue of Cosmopolitan provide an interesting example, in which Parker illustrated five stories, each in a different style and pen name.

It’s just one example of his dedication to a craft that was sadly in decline by the end of his career (with photography becoming the new norm), but like his contemporaries in the 1960s and 70s such as Bob Peak and Bernie Fuchs, innovation was the way forward, and his later work displays a new enthusiasm and energy as can be seen in his series for the 22nd Monaco Grand Prix.

The reproductions in this book are a mixture of photographed originals and scans from vintage magazines, all handled with care, and the text, while not exactly offering an in-depth biography, is informative and does a good job of describing Al Parker’s working methods. For fans of mid-century American illustration I can’t recommend this beautiful book highly enough. Even if you have a passing interest in quality illustration, this deserves to be on your bookshelf.

Al Parker: Illustrator, Innovator by Manuel Auad
Auad Publishing
Hardback 208 pages
23.8 x 2.4 x 31.3 cm

Buy Now


March 20, 2015

The Sun rose with a heavy heart today and her beams were not as bright for Walt Reed has passed away. There’ll be one less bright star in the Galaxy tonight and we shall all be a little poorer for it.

The road at the top of the rise
Seems to come to an end
And take off into the skies.

Robert Fawcettt

A New Al Parker book

November 9, 2014
Parker cover
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the latest volume in our series highlighting the great American illustrators. This lavishley illustrated book covers every aspect of this important artist’s career with authoritative articles, hundreds of incredible full color illustrations and rarely seen photographs. One of America’s best known magazine illustrators from the 1940’s to the 1960’s, Al Parker was an innovator, a trend setter and a constant experimenter.

“If history teaches us anything, it’s that the name Al Parker is Magic.” ILLUSTRATION HOUSE, New York

“While the rest of us are working knee-deep in a groove (Al Parker is) forever changing and improving.”

Introduction by Kit Parker.
Texts by Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, David Apatoff and Leif Peng.

208 pages of color illustrations, some from originals, on glossy stock. 9″ x 12″, hardcover with dust jacket. Price is $44.95 and get an EXCLUSIVE FREE Al Parker frameable print!

Available: Late Fall 2014.




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The Way of the Cross

April 11, 2014

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For those who missed purchasing a copy of “The Way of the Cross” by Frank Brangwyn last Easter, this is a chance to purchase the limited numbered portfolio from the few copies I still have at a huge savings. From the previous price of $65.00 you can now purchase it for only $35.00 plus $$7.00 S & H. I still have a few left so you might want to get them now while they’re still available. “The Way of the Cross” makes a wonderful gift for Easter and will surely become a collector’s item.



The portfolio is shipped in a padded foam poach and inside a hard cardboard box for extra protection.

The plates measure 11 X 14”and printed in letterpress on Teton 80 lb. stock. There are 14 plates altogether.




























February 12, 2014


Bill Utterback (1931-2010) was an American illustrator most widely known for his contributions to Playboy and The Second City‘s theatre in Chicago.

Utterback was born on January 5, 1931 in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Utterback attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts in the 1940s, and then The Art Center in Pasadena where he was influenced by teacher Joseph Henninger.[1]

At the invitation of a friend, Utterback joined the design department of Playboy in the mid-sixties.[1] Utterback was asked to illustrate some caricatures for publication after an art director saw a birthday card Utterback had created for a fellow employee. This led to Bill’s regular feature in “That Was the Year That Was” [2] each April issue. After leaving Playboy, Utterback worked as a freelance illustrator from his home studio in Lisle, Illinois, servicing clients including The Second City until his death in 2010, and painted official portraits of Illinois Senator Pate Phillips which hung in the Illinois State Capitol building.

In later life, Utterback taught workshops at the DuPage Art League in Wheaton, Illinois, and sculpted a portrait likeness of Pate Phillips which was cast in bronze and unveiled in the DuPage County. Utterback died on February 8, 210 , at 79 years of age.


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January 29, 2014

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Duane Bryers was born in 1911 in the upper peninsula of Michigan

A  farm boy, who at times worked in a sawmill and dug ditches, swung from a trapeze in the circus, painted murals, drew comic strips and sculpted historical figures in ice, found success as a commercial artist and well-known painter of Americana.

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He began producing his Hilda collection in the mid-1950s.”I got the idea for a plumpy gal pinup and thought I’d like to make it into a calendar series,” Bryers said. “But how was I going to sell a plump girl?”He took his series to Brown & Bigelow, then the country’s top calendar maker, and “they reluctantly put it in the line and figured it would last a short time,” he said. “It went on for 36 years.”

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Duane Bryers died in 2013 just a month shy of his 101 st birthday.

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December 2, 2013

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Jack Welch was born in 1905. He was described as a tall Texan from Cleburn. He attended public school in Temple, Texas and started taking drawing lessons from the W. M. Evans Correspondence Course in Cartooning. For a short while he illustrated yearbooks for the Southern Methodist University. And from there he went on to work as a newspaper artist in New York, California, Seattle, Chicago and Philadelphia.

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Later on he moved on to working for an advertising agency as a sketch man doing sketches. He spent several years doing sketches and comprehensive drawings for advertising layouts. He was a natural in drawing children and thus was asked to design ads for Jell-o, Keds, Pullman and Traveler’s Insurance.


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The Saturday Evening Post magazine (one of the largest in circulation in the country at that time) took notice of Jack Welch’s style and talent. He was commissioned to do a few covers (see two below).

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Saturday Evening Post © Curtis Publishing.

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Saturday Evening Post © Curtis Publishing.

It’s a shame not much has been written about Jack Welch since he was such a great artist. My good friend and artist, the late Alex Toth, used to say how much he admired  Jack’s drawings. For a short time he was corresponding with one of Jack’s daughters.

Looking at Jack Welch’s drawings, you always got the feeling he was enjoying himself while doing it.

Jack Welch passed away in 1985

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November 25, 2013

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Sam Berman (1906–1995)[1] was an American caricaturist of the 1940s and 1950s.[2]

Berman was in high school when he began drawing cartoons for the Hartford Courant. He went to New York to study art and then landed a position as a staff cartoonist for the Newark Star Eagle. During the 1930s his political cartoons were published in color in Collier’s.

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After WWII, he did art for advertising agencies and created caricatures of leading radio performers for NBC’s promotion, The NBC Parade of Stars as Seen by Sam Berman: As Heard over Your Favorite NBC Station (1947), which had a print run of 5,000,000. With a tight deadline, he created caricatures of NBC’s most popular radio personalities and shows, each printed on a separate 6″x7″ card, and inserted in a green vinyl slipcase. The set of 56 caricatures included Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Milton Berle, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Judy Canova, Eddie Cantor, Jerry Colonna, Dennis Day, Bob Hope, Eddy Howard, H. V. Kaltenborn, Kay Kyser, Art Linkletter, Robert Merrill, Frank Sinatra and Red Skelton, as well as the stars of Amos ‘n’ Andy.

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His advertising art included a unique approach of caricaturing ordinary people, as seen in his Pitney-Bowes Postage Meter ad which ran in The Saturday Evening Post in 1955. His children’s books include Pixie Pete’s Christmas Party (1937), Miriam Schlein’s Shapes (Scott Foresman, 1952) and Dinosaur Joke Book (Grosset & Dunlap, 1969). Other books illustrated by Berman include Sullivan Bites News: Perverse News Items (Little, Brown, 1954) by Frank Sullivan.

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As head of his own map-making firm, he created an unusual relief map, the six-foot Geo-Physical Globe. Berman lived in Chappaqua, New York and later lived in Spain.

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Berman died in 1995, aged 89.

From Wikipedia

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November 18, 2013


Harry Devlin was born in Jersey City on March 22, 1918. When Harry was just eight years old, his artistic talent became evident. In the third grade at the William Livingston School in Elizabeth, a picture he drew on the blackboard so amazed the teacher. He continued to flourish through junior high school, where he became the sole illustrator for the school’s main publication, The Marquis.

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In 1935, Harry graduated from high school. He then began attending Syracuse University, and majored in illustration. During his senior year he met his future wife, Dorothy Wende, majoring in Fine Arts. They were married on August 30, 1941 and had seven children.

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On October 30, 1942, Harry began his active duty in the Navy as an Ensign. He was assigned to the Office of Naval Intelligence and assumed responsibility for all illustrations necessary for members of the armed services to identify enemy planes. Rising to the rank of lieutenant at the end of World War II, Devlin returned to a private life and began a ten-year association with Collier’s Weekly. He created editorial cartoons and illustrations for the magazine’s advertisements and articles. From 1946 to 1955, in addition to his work for Collier’s, Harry illustrated the stories written each week by Bob Considine and Dorothy Kilgallen for the Saturday Home Magazine. During the early 1950’s Harry also produced editorial cartoons for The New York Daily News. Unlike Collier’s, he developed his own themes and enjoyed the creativity of the experience. However; when the News asked Harry to print a cartoon in support of Senator Joseph McCarthy, Harry refused as a matter of principle, and was promptly fired. By 1957, Collier’s Weekly was out of business, as television succeeded in taking over most of the advertising market.

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In 1963, his wife (Wende known by her friends) wrote and Harry illustrated Old Black Witch, which along with its two sequels, have sold over one-and-one-half million copies. A long list of children’s books came in time; most were written by Wende and illustrated by Harry.

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Today, Devlin’s works can be found in several New   Jersey private, corporate, and museum collections including the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum and the Morris Museum of Art.

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Harry Devlin passed away in November 25, 2001

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November 4, 2013

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Harold James Mowat once described his work as: “My medium is a piece of white paper and a black pencil, sometimes a bit of dirt from the floor. When I work, I’m at it from morning until late at night. I haven’t known the meaning of true peace of mind for years, but I infinitely prefer the uncertainties and struggles of the illustrator to any other game on earth.”


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H.J. Mowat was born in Montreal, Canada in 1879. He studied art at the New York School of Art. He always preferred to work in black and white, most of the time obscuring much of the details but also highlighting other areas for an overall tonality. He never quite achieved the popularity of some of his colleagues like F.R. Gruger, Arthur William Brown, Raeburn Van Buren. None the less, he was well respected and admired by his fellow artists who acknowledged his dedication. Mowat did a lot of work for the major publications during his time, such as The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, McCall’s, and Redbook. Mowat never became as popular with the public as did most of his more facile coworkers.

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The reason Mowat wasn’t able to attain the heights of other artists was the fact that he lavished so much time and expense on his models fees that he would barely brake even and the fact that he worked painfully slow.

Where it not for these I weaknesses I believe H.J. Mowat would have given the likes of F.R. Gruger, Arthur William Brown, Raeburn Van Buren and others a run for their money.

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H.J. Mowat passed away in 1949


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