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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

American (c)ART(oon)IST

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cartoons were popular in all kinds of advertising in the mid-century -- but perhaps nowhere more than in advertising directed at artists. The ad pages of old 1950s issues of American Artist magazine are a virtual goldmine of cartoon styles and subjects.

Well known art materials suppliers like Bainbridge...

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... Speedball...

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... and Royal Crest seem to have felt that the best way to win over customers was to take a lighthearted approach - often running long series of cartoon ads month after month...

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... even year after year.

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No American Artist advertiser was more committed to cartoon art than the Iddings Paint Company, which ran small space ads in the back pages of the magazine that featured a new, tiny, always beautifully crafted cartoon nearly every month throughout the '50s.

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Its also interesting to see how competitors sometimes chose remarkably similar ad concepts. Both of these pencil ads appeared in the same issue of AA -- both featuring cartoon art.

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Meanwhile, Marshall's had a different idea. Though still using cartoon art.

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I don't know how many other people there are out there who will share my fascination with this stuff. It is admittedly pretty obscure; but I love it. In fact the smaller the ads, the greater my delight for the tiny images that decorate them.

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I can't help but marvel at the quality of the work done by these (usually anonymous) advertising cartoonists. This was not the work of amateurs.

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Who drew all this marvelous stuff? Some thoughts and some clues... tomorrow.

* My Ads with Cartoon Elements Flickr set.

7 comments

  1. You probably won't be too surprised to hear I'm loving this week's topic!

    As always, thanks for all your hard work, Leif.

    Huw
    EYECATCHER

    ReplyDelete
  2. That ad for Venus pencils looks like it was drawn by Hank "Sketchem" Ketchum.

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  3. Magnificent post. This stuff is my meat and my potatoes! That Speedball ad is to die for!

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  4. Does anyone have a handle on those VENUS pencils with the Dark Green Alligator Skin coating??? Wolud kill to get some.. a memory of my childhood..my grandfather used them...

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  5. The closest to the "Venus" alligator skin now are those "Ampsara" pencils; except are blue-green and doesn't look "alligatorish" enough...
    The American Pencil Company (who made them) It seems was bough by General Pencil Company, and Oh!; no alligator skin pencils...(I look at the web site)

    Talking about pencil in "culinary" terms; I miss those "Mitsubishi 9800" even they are marked "General writing" they have a very smooth texture and nice color, even everybody use them for drawing... Used to carry them at art supplies shops in Chile...Here in the states are hard to find...
    Talking about those art adds: I used to write them anytime when said "Ask for our brochure!"...

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  6. News Break!... For all the Venus enthusiasts, There's "LEADHOLDER: The Drafting Pencil Museum" Online... Here's the link about the Venus brand...

    http://www.leadholder.com/wood-venus.html

    I don't know if anyone has see it before, but it helps...

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  7. Thanks a million, Leif -- I'm going to have a lot of fun doing inspirational sketches from these mid-century treasures. Much appreciated ^_^

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