Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bathing Beauty... or Somebodies' Mom?

There are always a few people who actually read the opening to these stories and then ask, "but what happens next?" I have to admit that this one time, because the story was about an illustrator, I too wondered what happened next. So, a brief synopsis:

Six year old Tim (whose dad is away at a sanatorium because he has TB) and his mom, a writer of detective novels (and a real looker to boot), live downstairs from Mr. Burford, a commercial artist. Burford is having an ulcer because he can't seem to draw glamorous, seductive legs on the spokesmodel in the illustration he must complete post haste for his client, ad man George Dockwra. At stake for Burford is a fee of $500. Dockwra is flipping out because, not only is his illustrator unable to draw glamorous, seductive legs, but he is about to lose his biggest account for lack of a brilliant ad concept. Tim dreams of owning a paint set like his hero, Burford, but lacks the one dollar it costs. Meanwhile, old Miss Mary, another resident of this renovated manor house, has lost her favourite heart-shaped charm in the snow outside.

Through a series of coincidences worthy of Charles Dickens, the author delivers good fortune to all: Tim finds and returns Miss Mary's charm, his mom gets good news that his dad is recovered and returning home (which puts her in the mood to pose her glamorous, seductive legs for illustrator Burford), ad man Dockwra saves the account with an idea gleaned from an offhand remark Tim made at their earlier chance meeting in Burford's studio - and thanks Tim by purchasing (on a hunch) the one dollar paint set for him.

Everyone lives happily ever after. But I am left wondering just one thing:

This story is from 1959... since we learned recently that McCall's was paying over a thousand dollars for a story illustration in 1959, how is it that Dockwra was going to pay Burford only 500 bucks for an illustration that would be used in a national advertising campaign?

This image and another can be seen at full size in my new Pete Stevens Flickr set.


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  2. I want to be Mr. Burford! Not only for the great money they were paying back then for magazine art, but for the comely model I had at my access. Great story and AMAZING art.

    Rumor has it that little Timmy grew up to abandon traditional paint and now does portraits of pets and little old ladies on Photoshop--but he still has that first set of watercolors Mr. Burford gifted to him!!

    No, wait! That's MY life I just described!

  3. Lol, - very good, Les - I had long wondered about your obsession with pet portraits and little old ladies.