The first time we looked at Allan Kass' work I didn't even know his last name. All I could make out in the corner of the ad he illustrated for the British Vauxhall was "Allan". Then a TI reader identified the artist for us in my second post on Allan Kass. Now, thanks to Rhonda Whiting, who visited the blog after that second post, we have the rest of the story...
The ad above from June 1952 is the earliest example of Allan Kass' work I've managed to find. Kass probably did a lot of advertising assignments like this during the earlier part of his career. But Rhonda Whiting was familiar with an entirely different category of illustration work by Kass:
"I've been a fan of Allan Kass' work for a long time," says Rhonda, "but in a round-about way... I love reading and collecting books and always loved his Regency romance covers. Back in the last '80's, I sent him a fan letter and he was kind enough to reply."
Rhonda began corresponding with Allan Kass, who provided her with a list of titles he had done covers for. "...so I began searching," says Rhonda, "and now have 783 covers of the approximately 1000 that he did."
"[Allan Kass] was born in 1917 in NYC and showed an early interest in art. He earned a BFA at Syracuse University in painting and worked in a Manhattan studio until WW2 broke out. He enlisted into pilot training and flew 44 combat missions during the war."
"After the war, he considered flying full time and letting art be a hobby, but he got a job in Detroit working for the automotive market and was busy with his new wife and family."
"He went into book cover illustration after dissatisfaction with drawing automotive pictures and backgrounds. He felt that illustration was dying and the new "king" was photography. Illustration only flourished in paperbacks, so he drew up a few samples in the late 1960's and took them to NYC and the rest is history."
"Mr. Kass was not computer savvy, but he was very interested in my collection and in having his work 'preserved' on the internet. He was sad that so much art from the great magazine and pulp fiction illustrators is lost."
To that end, Rhonda has created an Allan Kass cover gallery blog. There you can see over 200 covers by Allan Kass from Rhonda's collection which she has diligently scanned and uploaded for all to enjoy.
"I have books with his illustrations copyrighted from 1969-1998," writes Rhonda. "He retired then and enjoyed being with his family and his model airplane collection, which he built from scratch."
Allan Kass passed away in 2005.