Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Wow Factor: Denver Gillen

*Whew*! Um... do I really need to explain this one? No, I didn't think so.

Knowing just what would grab the reader, Denver Gillen chose this minor and almost inconsequential line from the story as the inspiration for his illustration:

Cosmo AD, Robert C. Atherton must have been pleased with Gillen's choice. Just look at the wonderful headline type Atherton had done up to compliment the artwork...

The page design comes together beautifully. If you're looking for 'Wow!', I say this spread has it, big-time.

I planned to only show one piece per day this week -- but I couldn't resist including Denver Gillen's fabulously noir-ish back-up illo from this story.

Consider that another artist might have chosen this pivotal scene for the main art. Did Gillen (and Atherton) choose better?

My Denver Gillen Flickr set.


  1. What I like about this illo, besides the obvious... the woman's body is not idealized, it's real. Although, IMO she has a very nice shape, it's not perfect. I think the reader can relate to that piece of reality, and it doesn't become the drop dead Georges babe with the ideally perfect body... that rarely exists in real life.

    Tom Watson

  2. Thanks for that, Tom.

    What I like about this piece is Gillen's richly textured rendering, and his beautifully balanced use of a limited colour palette. What impresses me most, however, is the tremendous sexual tension in the piece. FAR more intriguing than "the obvious", as you put it, is the psychology behind choosing this scene (which, as I said, serves almost no purpose in furthering the plot than as a way to establish some elements of personality of the character). The themes of voyeurism and of bold public nudity from a 1950's "young lady" flies in the face of what we have been taught the 50's was all about through popular culture.

    That this appeared in Cosmo in 1958 (and not in some under-the-counter men's magazine), for consumption by, I suppose, young female readers, speaks volumes about the sexual repression that society was struggling with at the time.

    That's the REAL Wow Factor of this piece!

  3. Doug Fraser1:19 PM

    Thanks, for these WOW great images this week. I've been working like a dog the last while. I'm ready to tell a few art directors to go screw themslves. Then I see these, and I feel the love.