Time once again to take a look at some hidden gems from Reader's Digest Condensed Books. This batch comes from a 1958 volume illustrated by Ken Riley.
Riley began his professional career as a comic book artist, working for the Simon & Kirby shop shortly after WWII.
Through talent and ambition he quickly made the jump to "the slicks." His work began appearing regularly in the Saturday Evening Post and many other mass-circulation magazines in the late 1940s.
By the time Riley drew these illustrations for RDCB in the late '50s, he was one of America's premier illustrators.
Later in his career, Riley would become one of the most respected western painters in the country - his paintings are in the permanent collections of both the White House and the Smithsonian.
If you're unfamiliar with Ken Riley's work, have a look at the scans in my Ken Riley Flickr set.
Aside from his obvious skill as a draftsman, I'm sure you'll be struck by the unique and beautiful use of colour Riley used when painting.
That's also why I find these pieces so interesting; because Riley most often created full colour painted work for the best publications, these illustrations give us a chance to see how effectively he was able to find an alternate strategy for dealing with RDCB's inferior printing and very poor paper quality.
I've written extensively about Ken Riley's career previously on Today's Inspiration...
... for those interested, you'll find more about the artist at the following links:
Ken Riley, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5