Crescent City Books, located in a typically beautiful ancient brick building on Chartres St. in the French Quarter, is a place so jam-packed with used books that the narrow front door barely opens wide enough to allow one person to pass in or out. Books stand piled in tall columns because there is no more room on the bursting shelves, and one must often navigate the stacks by shuffling sideways along the narrow strip of floor that isn't occupied by the store's inventory.
This place was heaven to me!
It was here that I located Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill - a book I've been searching for for years - and Crescent City had it for only 10 bucks - a steal.
I was almost on my way out the door with my new acquisition when a narrow little hardcover near the cash caught my eye. A quick flip through its pages revealed a series of really wonderful cartoon illustrations by an artist I'd never heard of: Henry R. Martin. I gladly plunked down an extra three dollars for Comic Epitaphs so I could share it with you today.
Martin's work reminds me a little of some contemporary cartoonists, like Seth or Chris Ware - modern day cartoonists who have been heavily influenced by the mid-century styles.
But I'm also reminded of work done by Martin's contemporaries. I see a hint of Roy Doty here...
... a touch of Jim Flora there...
... even a little Jan Balet on some of Martin's pieces.
But as this is the only example I've ever found of Martin's work, its hard to say whether this was typical of his style or what else he produced during his career. The Internet turned up a cartoonist named Henry R. Martin who was associated with Princeton University. Based on this Henry Martin's style, however, I have my doubts that he is the same artist who illustrated Comic Epitaphs.
Still, could there have been two cartoonists named Henry R. Martin working during the 1950's? Remember what I said yesterday about coincidences?
My Henry R. Martin Flickr set.