Tuesday, August 29, 2006

True Crime Illustration?

Its so odd seeing a Joe Bowler character holding a gun. I can't help but think that Bowler also found it odd to be painting a character holding a gun.

When I first found this illustration I thought it was a more-typical-for-Bowler romance scenario, not unlike the many beautifully executed compositions he was doing for Good Housekeeping or Ladie's Home Journal... then I noticed the gun. Everything about this piece displays Bowler's chops at designing and painting a great illustration - just not a crime illustration. I get no sense of menace, of forboding from the characters or the composition.

The villian is small and set in a corner, his gun pointed away from the victim and placed even further into the corner as if to hide an embarassment. His expression is one of bemusement, not threat. The girl, large and imposing by comparison, filling the majority of the image area, seems more frustrated than frightened. Hardly the picture of a member of "a family held captive by three warped, violent men". I wonder if Bowler was perhaps not entirely comfortable with the crime genre and can imagine how differently someone like Austin Briggs would have handled this particular assignment.

Still the powerful and dynamic, modern composition, the flawless execution, are wonderful to behold. Joe Bowler was a true master illustrator - just perhaps not a true crime illustrator.


  1. Absolutely beautiful piece! The pattern on her coat is brilliantly drawn with amazing attention to the folds and volume of the material. It IS an odd piece, though, as I would never presume it to be illustrating "The Desperate Hours". Thanks, Leif!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Joe - you're right, it IS a spectacular piece by a true master. Stay tuned for more!