Friday, May 15, 2009

Marvin Friedman's Gift of Al Parker Clips

One of the many benefits of putting together this blog is being the recipient of the tremendous generosity of a great many people. For instance, on several occasions I've received packages of old magazine clippings that others have collected. Today, I'm sharing with you a small sampling from one such package. All of these images are from Marvin Friedman's Al Parker clipping file, which Marvin collected for his own reference and inspiration over the long years of his career.

When I interviewed Marvin for the series of posts on his career, the topic of Al Parker came up. Marvin mentioned that Parker had been "a mentor" and "a very dear friend." I asked him to tell me the story of his first encounter with Al Parker...

Marvin began, "I wrote him a letter when I was in art school. A couple of us got into a convertible and drove up to Westport [CT] to see all the illustrators who lived there. We found out Al Parker liked on Mayflower Parkway. So we drove up there and stood across the street. There was this nice little house with a Chevy station wagon in the driveway. We were like, "Al Parker drives a Chevy station wagon? We were expecting a f#%@ing Rolls Royce in the driveway!" (we both laugh)

"Anyway, he came out with his family, got in the Chevy station wagon and drove away. My friend said, "Why didn't you go up and knock on the door?" But, you know, that's the kind of adulation for an illustrator you don't find anywhere today. They don't know anybody, they don't care, they don't wanna know... well, maybe just you do." (we both laugh again)

Marvin later became close friends with Parker and visited him many times at his home in Carmel after Parker moved to California.

What's really interesting about this great batch of clipped pages Marvin sent is getting to see, in a single dose, the length of Parker's career and how his style evolved with the times.

To better demonstrate what I mean, I selected an assortment of images from Marvin's collection and arranged them here chronologically, from the 1930's to the 1960's.

As always, they show not only how clever Parker was as an image designer, but what an astute observer of the changing times he was - not to mention his tremendous versatility and adaptability. Do yourself a favour and spend some time really looking at all of these pieces. Even after all these years Parker's remarkable work is as fresh and vital as the day it first appeared...

Many thanks to Marvin Friedman! I'm sure you share my feelings of gratitude for the gift of these images - and the many others I'll be presenting in the weeks and months ahead.

* My Al Parker Flickr set.

* My Marvin Friedman Flickr set.

* Marvin Friedman's website.

*AND* Be sure to take a second look at yesterday's Harry Anderson post (below). Later in the day yesterday I received a long note from TI list member Kent Steine, who knew Harry Anderson personally. Kent shed some light on Anderson's working method, his use of casein, and he even sent along a photo of Harry Anderson looking at one of Kent's sketchbooks. All of which I have now added to the end of yesterday's post.


  1. indeed, thanks mr. feldman! =)

  2. Parker was such a restless innovator.To somehow keep on coming up with endless variations of your own style and pull it off time and again.Actually in a funny kind of a way, maybe the complete opposite of Harry Anderson who had one technique but rendered with equal virtuosity in a variety of media.
    Funny thing about Parker, as I recall, in his Famous Artists course book, when asked how he came up with color schemes in his illos,rather than reference color wheels,triads etc, he says he gets his ideas from swatches of fabric and pretty ribbons or something. For real?

  3. Charlie Allen5:35 PM

    Fabulous Parker clips....and many thanks to Mr. Friedman. I've clipped dozens of Parkers....thought I'd seen most....but these I haven't seen. I am missing a clip that would be great to see again. Subject, two kids in a bedroom wall magically opening on the African veldt....lions, all kinds of animals there. Handled beautifully, as only Parker would. If anyone has a clip, please send it along to TI.

  4. Chad;

    I don't know if that story is true -- but it sounds like something Parker would say, imho. Thanks! :^)

  5. Charlie;

    I'm not famiar with that piece you describe - but I wouldn't be surprised to see it pop up here eventually.