Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Digest This: Allan Kass Illos from RDCB

Today's series is by a Detroit illustrator named Allan Kass, from a 1960 edition of Reader's Digest Condensed Books.


While there are plenty of well known and highly regarded mid-20th century illustrators...


... it's amazing to think that someone as skilled as Allan Kass could be virtually unknown -


- even by those of us who study this era in illustration closely.


Kass' work so brings to mind artists like Robert Fawcett or Austin Briggs that when I first discovered one of his Vaux Hall ads several years ago, I (and several others I consulted) were sure that it must be by one or the other.


Harald Henriksen, who has contributed so much to this blog over the years, was the first to determine that the artist in question was Allan Kass.


Since that time, we've learned quite a bit about Allan Kass. Rhonda Whiting, who loves Kass' later-period romance novel cover art and corresponded with the artist before he passed away, contacted me with quite a few biographical details. You can read those details at this link.


Rhonda has also created a blog dedicated to Allan Kass' book cover art where you'll find hundreds of examples scanned from her collection.


Not long after my first few posts about Allan Kass, I was contacted by his daughter, Susan. She wrote, "I can tell you that he was an amazing man in so many ways - and an enormously talented artist."


I can't imagine anyone disagreeing with that statement.


While I'm always on the lookout for more work by Allan Kass...


... it's not very easy to come by - which makes this small series from RDCB such a treat.


* One place where you'll find several more beautiful Allan Kass illustrations, from his Detroit automotive art period, is at


Mitch itkowitz has generously provided nice large scans of a half dozen originals he has for sale from the Allan Kass estate. Check 'em out!

* Many thanks to Reader's Digest Creative Director, Robert Newman for linking this week's posts to the Reader's Digest art Tumblr page! Robert has been posting some classics from the back covers of Reader's Digest from those days on the RD tumblr page. Be sure to go take a look!


  1. Well, these illustrations are beautiful but his covers for romantic stories are a little boring -like the stories ?

  2. This is Allan Kass at his best.Look at his faces they're specific, not generic.Dramatic lighting, the claustrophobic interior of the sub.He was a very special talent who somehow went off in the wrong direction-for my money.He should have been working in the sweats.Tailormade for his drama.

  3. I first saw Allan Kass's Vauxhall adds
    and think his line & wash art is as
    good as any.

  4. Bestnote for drawing and the rest!
    Still digesting and assimilating...

  5. the Wolfpack illustrations are some the best ever published in RD; this was an especially good volume - the images for The Haunting of Hill House are also quite good

  6. When Kass worked in Detroit, he was in the elite band of artists that made up The Art Group, the studio formed by Bernie Fuchs and a couple of other artists. Their standards for admission were very high indeed, and they ruled Detroit.

    I always preferred Kass's line work to his paperback covers. His series of drawings for Esso were blazingly brilliant, major drawings, reproduced in a lot of trade journals at the time. (I believe Mitch Itkowitz still has one which you can see on his Graphic Collectibles web site).

    I didn't know he worked for RDCB but these are very, very nice.

  7. Thanks for the blog "shout". I have about half of my Kass illustrated books online.