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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

Chiriaka takes Liberty

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


This week's narrative is from the 8th issue of Illustration, excerpted with the permission of Dan Zimmer. The text is © David Saunders:

In July 1950 Darcy painted a slick cover “on spec” of his young son Leonard and showed it to an agent. She thought it was great, and sold it to Liberty magazine. Finally, at 37 years old, the real Ernest Chiriacka could proudly sign his full name on his first slick cover illustration. The agent was Celia Mendelssohn, who, along with her brother Sidney, ran American Artists at 67 West 44th Street. They represented many top artists, like Gillette (Gil) Elvgren, for which privilege Chiriacka had to forfeit a whopping 25 percent commission. To everyone’s astonishment, Liberty magazine abruptly folded, along with Chiriacka’s August cover. “I thought, ‘Hey, Holy Cow! I’m on the cover of Liberty! That’s great news.’ And they folded, right then and there, with my cover. It never came out! Gr-r-r! That was a dirty deal! My first slick, and it folds up!” Nevertheless, Chiriacka had successfully passed another stepping-stone, because the check had cleared and the Mendelssohns were convinced that his work was saleable in the slick market. There followed a succession of assignments for interior story illustrations and covers for American Magazine, Coronet, and Argosy.

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