In 1946, a young producer at Capitol Records, Alan Livingston was assigned the task of developing a children’s line for the fledgling record company. He came up with the idea of a read-along record and book set featuring a circus clown named Bozo. The album, Bozo At The Circus sold over a million copies, and helped to push Capitol to the top of the sales charts.
Livingston went on to create read-along sets featuring DIsney, Lantz and Warner Bros characters, but the most successful line was the Bozo series. Voiced by Disney story and voice man, Pinto Colvig with music by Billy May, Livingston wrote and produced Bozo On The Farm, Bozo And The Birds, Bozo Under The Sea, and this one… Bozo And His Rocket Ship. All of the sets were re-released in the LP era, but this one was heavily edited, for obvious reasons. In this album, Bozo makes a survey of just about every ethnic stereotype imaginable. But that isn’t the reason we’re presenting it here. We’re featuring the wonderful work of the illustrators, Norm McCabe and Cecil Beard.
McCabe was an animator at Warner Bros in the 30s and directed in the early 40s. After the war, he turned to commercial work and illustration. He returned to cartoon animation in the mid-1960s, animating the titles to The Pink Panther. He continued to work in the business until his death in 2006. Cecil Beard was an animator and story man at Disney and Columbia. He worked on the Fox & the Crow comic books with Jim Davis in the late 40s, and as an illustrator for Western Publishing in the 1960s. He passed away in 1986.
The most striking thing about these images are the compositions. Notice how the white of the page is used and how small windows in the backgrounds open onto other environments. There’s some really clever use of perspective and depth cues here. Enjoy!
This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.