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

"I decided just to try illustration"

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


When Noel Sickles' request for a raise was turned down by his bosses at Associated Press, Sickles said, "So I quit finally, just in sheer disgust." The syndicate was making "in the neighborhood of about $2,500 a week" from Sickles' efforts on Scorchy Smith (that's in 1936 dollars) but refused to pay the artist more than the $125 a week he had fought his way up to (from a starting salary of $47.50).

In his interview from The Comics Journal #242, Sickles tells interviewer Gil Kane, "To give you an idea of art prices: In 1925, an illustrator like Coles Phillips could draw a silk-stocking ad and get about $3,000."

Sickles goes on to say, "I decided just to try illustration and see what happened. I didn't think that I'd make it; to be an illustrator. The strange thing is I started right out on top."

Sickles advertising accounts included Postum, Fels Naptha, Camels, Prestone, and one of my favourites: this 1949 series for Champion sparkplugs. The shame is that the printing quality in American magazine, where I found these ads, is none to good, and the artwork is quite small to boot. But you can get a pretty good look at them if you click "All Sizes" in my Noel Sickles Flickr set.

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