By Guest Author Tony Gleeson
Few people today are familiar with the illustrator WIlliam Meade Prince, who did some wonderful work in pencil and white gouache on toned paper, as well as more traditional painting.
The way I came to acquire these images is kind of interesting... in the mid '70s when I lived in NYC I acquired the reference file of a deceased artist; tons of stuff going back to the beginning of the 20th century. He had tons and tons of old mag illustrations, all clipped and filed in large manila envelopes by subject. It was up to me to re-collate them and glean whatever info I could on the artists and the issues and so forth. In art school I had been fascinated with the technique of pencil on toned paper with white highlights, and these just spoke to me at the time.
The vast majority of the work Prince did in this style for Collier's was to illustrate the work of a Southern author named Roark Bradford (by 1941 he did start to illustrate other authors in this style, and I've got a few of those as well).
Bradford was pretty prolific, writing lots of fiction pieces about southern African-Americans that today definitely appear, in the words of Wikipedia, "patronizing and demeaning."
I have no intent to offend anyone nor to open any controversies...
... just to put forth the work of an interesting artist -- and I also feel that Prince's illustrations were generally NOT demeaning but rather brought out a lot of character and dignity in what were basically comic characters in comic stories."
All of which is very interesting and adds valuable context, in my opinion.
* Tony Gleeson is a freelance illustrator. Since 1974 he has created finished art for the book, editorial and advertising industries as well as character design and concept art for gaming, film, television and theme parks. He lives in Southern California.