Thursday, April 10, 2008

Meanwhile, On the West Coast...

Around the same time that Johnstone & Cushing artists were creating a multitude of advertising comic strips from their New York studio, Charlie Allen (working at Patterson & Hall in San Fransisco) and other West Coast artists were doing the same - if only occassionally.

"It was a long time ago," writes Charlie, "but in general, I was glad to be assigned any kind of paying work. My first go was the Wilson margarine ads, and I'm sure the AD trusted P&H to do a good job....I was an unknown. Once done, a reputation began."

"The Avoset group [below] came from a former P&H artist and good friend, Chuck Sutorius, who like many other ex-P&H artists, became an art director (Harrington-Richards?)."

"He (and other AD's as well) stressed mixing up the scenes, anything to keep from being static and boring. There were too many cartoon strips that lacked action and interest..."

"...the ad clients wanted their money's worth!"

When I first saw these ads, I was struck by their exceptional quality, every bit as good as those produced by the 'specialists' back east. So I asked Charlie if he had looked at the work being done by those artists, and how he felt about this particular niche of the illustration business.

Charlie replied, "Always envied the good cartoonists, but wasn't born with a funny bone. Also didn't envy the insatiable schedule required of the daily guys. What a treadmill....but lucrative, I'm sure."

"Again, contrasting these with the daily cartoonists.....there is no way a daily deadliner could spend the time, reference, and preliminary sketches that I put in on one of these."

"Also again, why I preferred the advertising game!"

"I would have done more, as I really enjoyed them, but SF was not a big market for such....that was mainly mid-west and east."

Charlie sent this one later period comic-style ad he did in 1974 and commented that "[it was] 'fun' because it was the type of thing I wanted badly to do back in high school...but ability was way behind ambition! My idol then was an SF artist named Howard Brodie who did fabulous illustrations for the sport pages of the SF Chronicle."

For those interested in seeing these strips in all their glorious detail, I have added them to my Charlie Allen Flickr set, as well as my Comic Strip Ads Flickr set.

My thanks to Charlie for providing these rare treats for us to enjoy!


  1. That Charlie can do it all. What a guy!
    Bruce Hettema

  2. As an illustrator from india your flickr sets are very inspiring and we don't get any oppertunity to see the works of so many illustrators\artists
    but my humble request is if these illustration samples can be shown in the original size so that we can see the minute details and the meticulousnesses of the work of these great illustrators
    thanks and regards
    sudeep das