Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An Alex Ross Christmas

Lest you think I'm secretly running a theme this week showcasing giant Christmas tree ornaments, let me assure you, its only by coincidence that both yesterday's and today's posts open with such an image .

I just couldn't resist this terrific piece by Alex Ross, a Cooper Studio mainstay and regular contributor to Cosmopolitan magazine (and many others) during the 50's.

For new arrivals to this blog who have a background in comic books, I should repeat once again that this is NOT the Alex Ross who has painted his way into a very successful career at Marvel and DC.

This is, in fact, "your father's Alex Ross".

And also for the benefit of recent arrivals, I must tell once again the astonishing bit of trivia that this Alex Ross had an almost uninterrupted 12-year run doing covers for Good Housekeeping magazine. Isn't that incredible?

Imagine a magazine assigning its covers exclusively to just one artist for more than a decade. Its absolutely unheard of! I wish I knew the story behind that business relationship...

Anyway, here's another example of one of Ross' GH covers, which always featured one or more cute kids, usually involved in some thematically appropriate activity for that time of year.

More examples by the artist can be found in my Alex Ross Flickr set.


  1. This is a reality check for me. "The Star on the Christmas Tree" spread illustration, is simple, yet very well designed. The ornament and type face for the headline is outstanding, and the main illustration is quite pleasing, professionally executed and in my world... believable. Although all these illustrations were rendered realistically, they do what a photo can't do... they are subjective. After all, a camera is only one eye and no brain!

    What I see in many of today's illustrations... not "TODAY'S INSPIRATIONS", are cluttered disjointed caffeine induced mish mash of unexplainable images that mean little to me, or most people I know. Is it any wonder that there is a renewed interest in these 50's illustrations.

    Thanks again Leif, for continuing your display of visual Christmas treats.

    Tom Watson

  2. Ha, Leif, thought you'd like to know this. That "other" Alex Ross you mentioned, who went on to fame and fortune with Marvel & DC, becoming one of the most successful illustrators of our times, well the very first comic book series he ever painted was Terminator-Burning Earth for the late Now Comics out of Chicago. I was the humble soul who wrote that series. And I had no inkling of this older Alex Ross. Man, there must be something about that name that inspires art talent?

  3. It’s amazing that two different persons... same name, and both amazing illustrators.
    Thanks again Leif for sharing your knowledge ;)

  4. Such outstanding work. Makes me wish I had been around in the '50s when these illustrators were at their height. Thanks for posting these gems!

  5. Thanks to you all for your comments!

    Tom; as always, you strike at the heart of the matter, and far better than I could ever hope to. If I could quibble with you on one point, its that I have serious doubts that there is any "renewed interest in 50's illustration". I suspect there are exactly as many people interested now as there have been in years past - just that the internet has brought us together in away that was not previously possible.

    Ron; that's a great little story - its a small world indeed and you've proved that we are all separated by 6 degees (or less). And get this: The original Alex Ross actually had a connection with comics as well. he was best friends and neighbours with Alex Raymond of Rip Kirby fame - this according to my friend, Armando Mendez (scroll all the way down).

    pablo and pumml; you're most welcome. :-)

  6. Leif, Good point about 50's illustrations getting more exposure today due to the Internet. I have noticed recently, more art students that express their inspiration and interest in the 50's technique... and consider it very cool looking. When I was teaching in the 90's, my students did not think 50's illustrations were cool at all.

    Regardless, it's great to hear the positive comments these days, whether on the Internet or in the class room. Quality is timeless.

    Tom Watson

  7. I couldn't agree more, Tom - it IS great - and hopefully that enthusiasm will extend outward and eventually influence art directors and the general public. That would be a dream come true.