Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mike Ludlow, Story Illustrator

In the early '50s Mike Ludlow illustrations began appearing occasionally in some of the major magazines of the day. The earliest I've found are from 1954. As we saw yesterday, Ludlow had already been doing paperback covers for several years at that point.

the accidental murders

I say "occasionally" because, unlike some of the mid-century illustrators we've looked at on Today's Inspiration over the years who enjoyed monthly story assignments in one magazine or another (or several), Ludlow did not.


If any one magazine could be called a steady client of Ludlow's, it would be Woman's Day. Not a bad thing - but I suspect any mid-century illustrator aspiring to do magazine story illustrations was aiming for Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping or Ladies Home Journal. These were the publications with the highest circulations (and no doubt the best budgets) and the homes of the top tier of illustrators. Al Parker, Robert Fawcett, and Coby Whitmore among others called the pages of these magazines "home." The be in their company on a steady basis would mean you had arrived.


Around 1957 Mike Ludlow finally arrived. His work began appearing steadily in the Saturday Evening Post.


Interestingly, the Parkers, Fawcetts and Whitmores stopped appearing in the Post's pages around that same time. Ludlow was more often in the company of other 'late arrivals' like Mitchell Hooks and Bob McGinnis. Is it only a coincidence that these were all artists who had forged their careers doing paperback cover art in the preceding years? (And of course continued to do so)


In 1960 Ludlow was pretty much a monthly contributor to the Post. Here are Ludlow pieces from March...


... April...


... a funny one from July...


... and one of my favourites, from August 1960.


The shame is that illustration of this type - and magazine illustration in general - was undergoing a dramatic diminishment just when Ludlow seems to have established himself as a story artist. Still, I would guess it was better to have been at the top for only a short time than to have never reached the pinnacle at all.

* My Mike Ludlow Flickr set.


  1. I liked Ludlow's work, the style changed a lot in the late 60s and early 70s. I remember some very nice album covers from that time.

  2. Leif, it's posts like the ones about Ludlow that make me sit back and think, "This is what I come back here for, day after day. Wonderful, wonderful stuff." Thank you so much.

  3. This is the best of the Ludlow posts. Really shows off his stylistic versatility and strong sense of composition to their best advantage. Thanks so much, Leif.

  4. Loved his work on THE INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS serial for Colliers.