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

The Art of Lowell Hess

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Last week we looked at the art of one of the most celebrated cartoonists of the 20th century, Jack Davis -- this week I'd like to focus on the art of one of the finest cartoonists who ought to be much more celebrated: my friend, Lowell Hess.
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 Lowell has been featured on several occasions on TI. In fact, he was one of my earliest subjects and my first ever phone interview subject, way back in November 2005. It was after that session that Lowell sent me a huge package of tearsheets he'd amassed over the course of his career: several photo album/scrapbooks and a large box of loose clippings, as well as several rolled posters.
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I was so stunned at the sheer volume of Lowell's work (all of it absolutely wonderful), I immediately proposed that we collaborate on an "Art of" book, to which Lowell enthusiastically agreed.

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Unfortunately life got in the way. The task of scanning, digitally cleaning and repairing, then designing and building the page layouts proved to be too overwhelming for me on top of my other obligations (family, job, and maintaining TI).

 Hess122


After giving me the benefit of his almost limitless patience, Lowell had no choice but to ask that I return all his materials. It was a sad day for both of us to have to concede that the project would not come to fruition. Lowell was incredibly understanding, telling me there were no hard feelings and that he valued our friendship. I was incredibly grateful for his kindness and understanding, and still am.

  Hess268

 Well I'm happy to report that Lowell was not ready to give up. Using the approximately 250 hi res image scans I had managed to prepare and the InDesign document I'd begun to build as a starting point, Lowell rolled up his sleeves and set to work.

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 It took several years... but with dogged determination, tireless effort and the loving assistance of his family, Lowell's dream of a lasting record of his life's accomplishments is at last a reality! His many adoring fans can now purchase The Art of Lowell Hess at either Barnes & Nobles or Amazon.com

Hess270

The Art of Lowell Hess is a gorgeous hardcover featuring an introduction written by Lowell himself, followed by 150 pages of uninterrupted art in colour and black and white.  I'm still a little amazed that he didn't use all of my scans and that there's even more of Lowell's work in the book that I never saw.

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So as not to spoil the fun, I've decided this week to run some of the stuff that didn't make the cut - and leave you to be surprised and delighted by what Lowell decided to share with readers in those 150 pages.  As he says in his introduction, "I am in the twilight of my career and [reached] my 90th year on the seventh day of February 2011.  I was born too late to fully catch the "Golden Days of Illustration" but enjoyed what I did.  Now I can sit back and listen to the nice things that people say.  I could not ask for anything more."


7 comments

  1. This is amazing! I feel like I am dreaming. As a huge fan of his work I've often thought about helping put together a retrospective book on his work as well. I am so glad someone did!

    I've also had the pleasure of speaking with Lowell after I sent him a gushing fan email he called me up one day when I was illustrating at American Greetings. It was so great to speak with him! I worried that I was taking up too much of his time but he quickly informed me that he had all the time in the world. I left the conversation with him thinking about what a kind and warmhearted guy to talk with me for so long about his work and the business of illustration. Now I can't wait to get the book in the mail!

    -Steve

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  2. I'll be next in line for a copy after Steve :-)

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  3. I know i'm probably going against the grain here, but this just looks like your generic 50's cartoon filler style, similar but slightly different to Ketcham et al, is there much of a market for an 'art of' book? We'll see.
    No offence to Mr Hess who sounds like a nice guy.

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  4. Great news! He's one of my favorites!

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  5. Fantastic post! Thanks!

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  6. Wow. Thanks so much for posting these and all the work you do to keep this blog going and a great resource.

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  7. Wow! I'm so delighted and amazed to see this. Lowell is my uncle - my father's brother. I have always been so proud of his work, and I have multitudes of cousins to compete with for originals, so I often search the internet to see if I can find his magazine covers. I've collected several over the years. I'm so touched to see that you are such a fan of his work, and that you got to experience what a wonderful person he is. I'll certainly be picking up a copy of this book.

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