Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Harry Devlin (1918 - 2001)

Here's the earliest piece I've ever found by Harry Devlin.


Its from the 1947 New York Art Directors Annual and clearly demonstrates what an accomplished advertising line art illustrator Devlin was. That ability would have served him extremely well in those days, as line art was very much in use for all sorts of ad art.


Harry Devlin was just as skilled at 'big-foot' cartooning, something that not every commercial artist was capable of.


In fact I've found relatively few who could do both realistic artwork of the sort at the top of this post and cartoon character art as good as you see here.


Even more impressive, Devlin could paint realistic scenes - and did so for major clients like Collier's magazine.


Collier's was one of Devlin's best steady clients. He began working for the magazine in 1947 and credited Collier's with being "where he honed his draftsman and perspective skills."

Its also where he created a wealth of fantastic cartoon and caricature artwork for articles featuring prominent politicians or celebrities of the day.


(These three illustrations below were done for a January 1954 Collier's article called "What Makes Ike Smile" and are typical of much of Devlin's work for that magazine)



In his biography, Devlin writes that "In a touch of irony, [I] was elected President of the National Cartoonists Society in 1956, just as the Golden Age of Illustration was ending. Television quickly replaced print media as the main source of advertising and both Collier's and Saturday Home Magazine folded."

Devlin won many awards from from the NCS, as well as a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators. He also received awards from quite a few other prominent organizations during his long career.

When magazine illustration waned, Harry Devlin and his wife, Wende, combined their skills to write and illustrate 27 children's books.


Among those was "Old Black Witch" and its two sequels which, combined, sold over a million-and-a-half copies.


This week, a look at the work of the talented, versatile Harry Devlin.

* There are extensive biographies of both Harry and Wende Devlin at


  1. Thanks so much Leif - I hadn't been exposed to his early 50's color work before. Amazing stuff! And your references to Mad magazine on Devlin's "big-foot" work is spot on - there's some definite similarities to Mad's Jack Rickard's work (who was younger, I believe) for sure.

  2. nice classic, i love oldies like this