Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Fishing: Its a Boys' Life

Fishing was a popular subject in 1950's and 60's issues of Boy's Life magazine - of course.

Why? 'Cause fishin's fun!

This is something I really love about old Boys' Life magazines: these comics section features, drawn by the masterful artists at the Johnstone and Cushing agency, which usually appeared in the form of comic strips...

... but occasionally were presented in an attractive and highly informative 'info-graphic' manner.

These features made learning fun. Textbook publishers could have learned a lot about how to get kids to read educational material from the editors of Boys Life.

The artwork from that comics section feature looks like it might have been drawn by one of our previous subjects ( and now a TI list member ) Tom Sawyer (then Scheuer), back when he was one of Johnstone and Cushing's star artists. Perhaps Tom will let us know if my guess is correct...

Here are a few more ads and some story art from those early issues of Boy's Life...

These strips are fun and serviceably drawn, if unspectacular. I don't have a whole lot to say about them.

But I did want to point out this great piece by an artist I'm largely unfamiliar with: Gilbert Darling.

Here one can easily see the influence Al Dorne had on Darling's style. We spend so much time looking at the work of 1950's artists influenced by Al Parker and some others who would be considered the innovators of the 50's. But Dorne's influence should not be underestimated.

Dorne's slightly cartoony style of exaggeration married to a solid underpinning of good drawing and strong composition inspired hundreds of illustrators, from Gilbert Darling to Jack Davis to Robert McCloskey and on and on.

* My Fishing Flickr set.

* Be sure to drop by Charlie Allen's Blog for the latest CAWS: a dozen examples of Charlie's spot illustrations.

*ALSO* Last week's series on Ray Prohaska has been collected into a stand-alone blog, which will be updated occasionally by either me or Ray's son, Tony. If you'd like another look at last week's posts presented as one cohesive article, go to The Art of Ray Prohaska (and you'll notice the link has been added to my 'Classic Illustration Links" in the sidebar).


  1. Cool post! I just love old mags.

  2. There's great Al Dorne, average Al Dorne and then there are bad copies of Al Dorne.This is the latter, particularly the Hand of Death as Kyle Baker calls it, of the boy in red trousers.

  3. Ouch, Chad - while I believe you're welcome to your opinion, I personally wouldn't label Darling's illustration as a bad copy of Al Dorne.

    As stated, I think Darling was influenced by Dorne, as were untold legions of commercial artists of the day (not a bad thing). Beyond that, the drawing is limited only by his personal style and ability. Both look thoroughly professional to me - and appropriate to the subject matter.

    I'm curious what Kyle Baker's "Hands of Death" means... for the benefit of those of us who aren't familiar with the term, please add another comment and explain that one.

    Thanks for commenting! :^)

  4. Purely a personal response to the work Leif.I love Dorne when he's committed to a piece {particularly some of his war stuff where you feel his heart is in it} and his draughtsmanship is fantastic for a self-taught artist.But some of his work is by the numbers and even HE can look like a mediocre Dorne copyist. Darling's drawing looks to me like a competent Dorne copy,there's that kind of folksiness/sentimentality that looks horribly calculated and more appropriate to low quality commercial art, a million miles away from Fawcett, Sickles etc.
    The 'hand of death' is that palm upwards open hand gesture that artists use when they cant devise a good pose or they're rushing against the clock to get the thing done. It's an empty gesture and I'm sure you'd find John K hates it when its so frequently used in animation. Anyway, that's just my view keep up the excellent work amigo.

  5. Thanks Chad;

    I respect your opinion, even if my own might be different on this subject (and actually, there isn't much to quibble over in your analysis). Regarding the 'hands of death' - I fear I'm guilty of drawing those deadly hands on a fairly regular basis! I guess I better watch myself... wouldn't want to upset John K or Kyle Baker! ;^)