Many terrific illustrators did covers for the Saturday Evening Post, but from what I've seen, only two artists did silent comic strip covers: Constantin Alajalov and Thornton Utz. While all of Alajalov's work - single or multiple image - has a consistent charming stylized quality, the always versatile Utz brought a hint of cartooniness to his otherwise realistic painting style when doing these sequential art images.
When I look at his work here, I'm reminded of those fabulous artists who did similar lavishly detailed art for the early issues of Mad magazine, or the top-notch talents who painted gag panels and strips for Playboy. Utz would have easily fit in at either magazine.
I really marvel at these covers. Imagine getting assigned to do a painting for the cover of the most popular magazine in America. Now imagine being asked to do three paintings for one cover.
How about nine!
This nine panel cover might be my favourite Utz piece ever. Each panel is a tiny perfect Saturday Evening Post cover all on its own. Every panel has that quality of typical middle class American life The Post loved to show, from the gently humorous...
...to the quiety charming.
If I didn't know better, I could almost imagine that Utz painted these panels over pencil drawings by Wally Wood. All the characters have a tiny hint of that slightly pixie-ish cartooniness Wood used so effectively in much of his work. Its realistic painting -- but with a dash of Disney.
If you haven't yet gone to look at my Thornton Utz Flickr set, today's the day to treat yourself to a closer look at Utz's wonderfully detailed work.