Archive for the ‘illustrtation’ Category

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Illustration: Boris O’Klein’s Dirty Dogs of Paris

Boris O'Klein Dogs

Today’s images are a bit of a mystery. Even though untold numbers of these prints have sold over the years, very little is known about the artist who created them. The compositions are all very long and don’t fit the computer screen well, so make sure you click on the images and look at the full size scans.

Boris O'Klein Dogs

If you had visited Paris on a vacation anytime during the 1930s to the 1950s, odds are you would have brought back one of these prints as a souvenir. My Uncle who was a Rear Admiral in the Navy had a pair of these hanging in his bathroom and as a child I was fascinated by them. Called "The Dirty Dogs of Paris", this series of etchings was created by an artist who went by the multi-ethnic name "Boris O’Klein". His real name was Arthur Klein and he was born in Moscow, Russia in 1893.

Boris O'Klein Dogs

Boris O'Klein Dogs

O’Klein emigrated to France as a boy and became a successful magazine illustrator in Paris during the 1930s. The story goes that he spent hours watching the stray dogs in the streets outside his studio and realized that their personalities weren’t all that different from people. He was inspired to create a few cartoons of the dogs doing what dogs do… peeing on trees, chasing female dogs and sniffing each others’ butts.

Boris O'Klein Dogs

Boris O'Klein Dogs

The dog cartoons were just a lark. His real passion was painting hunting and wilderness scenes. But he realized the money making potential of the Dirty Dogs, and supplied a series of etchings to gift shops and galleries all over Paris. They became hugely popular and overshadowed all of his other work. Eventually, they even overshadowed the artist who created them.

Boris O'Klein Dogs

Boris O'Klein Dogs

I found these prints at eBay. They appear to be quite common. There are at least four or five different signatures on them, depending on the vintage, so it’s evident that they were cranked out in quantity by a third party. They appear to be still in production, although the recent prints are not nearly as good looking as the older ones.

Boris O’Klein passed away in 1985. I wish I could tell you more about him, but that’s all I know. If anyone reading has any info, please share it in the comments.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Magazine Cartoons: Reginald Birch and St Nicholas Magazine

St Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch

A MAGAZINE FOR CHILDREN

In 1872, Scribner’s began publishing St Nicholas Magazine, a sister publication to The Century aimed at an audience between the ages of 5 and 18. As Linda Young points out in her excellent article on St Nicholas, in the late 19th and early 20th century, there was no real distinction between young children and teenagers. Children were considered children until they married or went away to college. Features "For The Little Folk" ran in St Nicholas side by side with articles on natural history or science intended for older readers. When it came to fiction, the subjects ranged from adventure stories about far-away lands to fairy tales and historical romance. St Nicholas was the premiere magazine of its type, and although it was aimed at children, it counted many adults among its readership.

St Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch

But the main reason why we’re interested in St Nicholas is the illustrations. Scribner’s had access to many of the best artists of the day… Arthur Rackham, Harrison Cady, Maxfield Parrish, Willy Pogany, Charles Dana Gibson, Palmer Cox and Howard Pyle, among many others. But no artist was as closely associated with the look of St Nicholas as Reginald Birch.

St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchReginald Birch was born in 1856 in London, England. At the age of 14, he relocated to San Francisco, CA where he prepared wood block theater posters in his father’s shop. In 1873, Birch attended the Royal Academy in Munich and upon his return to America, he settled in as an illustrator in New York City.

Today, Birch may be forgotten, but his contribution to our American cultural identity certainly isn’t. At St Nicholas Magazine Birch took the character of Santa Claus, created by Thomas Nast in the 1862 Christmas Issue of Harper’s Weekly, and refined it into the jolly bearded character in the red suit that we all think of today.

St Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch

1906 Christmas cover by Reginald Birch

Little Lord Fauntleroy Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchReginald Birch illustrated a wide variety of poems and stories for St Nicholas, but perhaps the most famous was Frances Hodgson Burnett’s "Little Lord Fauntleroy". Following Burnett’s vivid description, Birch created the iconic image of the precocious little boy in curls wearing a black velvet suit with lace collar. This image became the basis for the character Buster Brown, and was widely lampooned in parodies casting Burnett’s wunderkind as a spoiled brat or monster child, like Eddie Munster. The image of the enfant terrible in the Buster Brown outfit has entered our cultural subconscious to the point where most of us don’t even realize where it came from… but it came from Reginald Birch.

Little Lord Fauntleroy

Freddie Bartholomew as Little Lord Fauntleroy

By the beginning of World War I, Birch’s Victorian pen and ink style was beginning to look dated. Demand for his services began to decline, and by 1930, he was penniless. He enjoyed an "Indian Summer" as a book illustrator in the late 30s until his failing eyesight forced him to retire in 1941. He passed away in 1943.

Here is a fantastic story written by St Nicholas editor, Tudor Jenks and illustrated in the distinctive style by Reginald Birch. Notice how Birch juggles the text in the layouts, his superb draughtsmanship and control of perspective, and the expressive posing of his characters.

St Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch

A SELECTION OF IMAGES FROM
THE CHRISTMAS, 1910 ISSUE

To finish out this post, here is a sampling of the sort of illustration and cartooning that filled the pages of a typical issue of St. Nicholas Magazine.

St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Magazine CartoonsMagazine Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Magazine Cartoons.
IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Theory: WWI and WWII Propaganda

Propaganda Posters

Back when I was in college, I was wandering through a junk shop and found a file folder that was stamped "Return To Louis Van Den Ecker, Technical Director". I peeked inside and found a pile of interesting clippings. It was a reference file dealing with propaganda posters from the First and Second World Wars. I bought the folder and brought it home and did some research on Louis Van Den Ecker. He turned out to have been an expert employed by the studios to insure that their depiction of particular times and places were accurate. He worked on the 1939 version of Hunchback of Notre Dame, Beau Geste, Adventures of Robin Hood, The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo among many other films. I assembled his clippings into a logical order and mounted them into a scrapbook. Today, we scanned this book for our archive database.

Propaganda Posters

The concept of propaganda is widely misunderstood. Many people automatically assume that it’s a negative thing. But propaganda is just a tool that can be used for either good or bad. Propaganda involves bypassing the intellect and appealing directly to emotion to motivate a group of people to action. During the World Wars, time was of the essence and masses of people needed to work together for the common goal of defending the nation. It would have been too slow to talk each and every move out with the whole population, so governments used powerful imagery to bring everyone together in the war effort.

Propaganda Posters

I’m not sure if it’s just the bias of this particular collection, or if it was actually the case during WWI, but looking at these examples, one can see how inept the Germans were at using propaganda. The German posters in this collection seem to appeal to abstract concepts like national pride, flags and mythology; while the Allied propaganda goes straight for the heart with concepts like motherhood, security, and moral outrage. Look at the example above. The figure in the foreground represents the outrage of the nation at the sight of a sinking ocean liner and a sailor’s hand rising from the surf begging for help. Even after nearly a century, the powerful imagery still makes its point.

Propaganda Posters

Contrast that impact with the poster above… Abstract concepts are stacked up on top of each other… It’s not a baby… it’s a statue of a baby. And it isn’t even a statue of a baby, it’s a statue of a cherub. There is no eye contact, just empty eye sockets. The emotional impact of the bullet hole in the helmet is totally negated by its similarity to the baby’s belly button! It’s hard to imagine this image motivating anyone to give money to the cause.

Propaganda Posters

Early examples, like the one above, were created by renowned artists, and the subjects required close inspection, reflection and thought to grasp.

As time went by, the images became more graphic and direct…

Propaganda Posters

Sketches of children orphaned by the war were potent images…

Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters

National and religious symbols seem to be much less effective, even when they are more interesting from an artistic standpoint…

Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters

These next two are interesting because they show how the two sides saw themselves. The German soldier is idealized in a kitsch way, while the French soldier seems more real and down to earth…

Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters

Which side would you rather be on?

Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters

When the nations of the world entered into World War I, the methods and techniques of propaganda were naiive and innocent. But by the end of the First World War, the techniques of waging war in the hearts and minds of the public had entered the modern era. Propaganda had become much more sophisticated and powerful.

Propaganda Posters

The rapid growth in the sophistication and effectiveness of propaganda during WWI was largely due to the work of one man… a man who went from spending his life as a quiet landscape painter to being the most powerful cartoonist of his day, Louis Raemakers. His story is a fascinating one, and you can read about it and see examples of his work on our article titled…

Louis Raemaekers- The Cartoonist Who Helped Win The First World War

Propaganda Posters

By WWII, leaders realized that battles could be fought and won on the homefront. Propaganda became an important part of motivating the population to work together toward the common goal of defeating the axis powers. Compare the WWI posters in this and the previous post to the examples from WWII presented here. Notice how the design and layout enhance the emotional impact of the concepts. Many of these posters still pack a wallop.

Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters

For more on this subject, see Alfred and Elizabeth Briant Lee’s excellent book The Fine Art of Propaganda: A Study of Father Coughlin’s Speeches 1938.

Now you may be asking yourself, what does propaganda have to do with animation? Well… Think for a moment about the definition of propaganda, "bypassing the intellect and motivating an audience through a direct appeal to emotion" and then think about this image from an animated film I’m sure you’re familiar with…

Pinocchio

Can you think of any other plot devices used in animated features that operate on this direct level?

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryTheory

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Theory.

IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.