Posts Tagged ‘black and white artists’

Artists, their signatures and monograms

April 12, 2018
Alfred Leete's monogram

Alfred Leete’s monogram

Alfred Leete, creator of the Your Country Needs You poster of Kitchener, had a distinctive signature for his work, as did one of his artistic contemporaries, Lawson Wood, the creator of the Gran’pop chimpanzee character. Both were famous illustrators and in both cases, the signature evolved over time.

Richard 'Dicky' Doyle's monogram on Punch

Richard ‘Dicky’ Doyle’s monogram from Punch

Other illustrators and cartoonists used a monogram, a graphic device made up of their initials. A great example of this was the Punch illustrator Richard Doyle. He used a reversed R to share the upright of the D, with a bird on top to symbolise his nickname, Dicky Doyle. Monograms seem to have become less popular in the 20th century, but Simon House has a spread of Victorian examples in his book, The Dictionary of 19th Century British Book Illustrators.

Leete’s and Wood’s signatures are easy to make out, whereas Doyle’s is a rebus. However, some cartoonists’ signatures seem perverse in their illegibility – Gilbert Wilkinson being a prime example with his covers for Passing Show and Illustrated weekly magazines.

To help get my head round them all, I’ve started a page of signatures and monograms on Magforum with 100 examples. Another illegible example is East on a Health & Efficiency cover – pointers as to what it says or in identifying some others would be appreciated!

east monogram from 1928 Health and Efficiency

Illegible signature for part of ‘East’


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


 

Leete, Kitchener and the pointing man

February 6, 2015

Alfred Leete’s Kitchener poster was the subject of great debate last year with James Taylor’s book suggesting it might never have existed, but The Amazing Story of the Kitchener Poster proved that thesis wrong by uncovering pictures of the poster on display during the Great War (a book I wrote with Martyn Thatcher).

We also discovered an image that Leete might have seen of a pointing man used in advertising. Now, I’ve unearthed two more pointing figures, one that Leete very possibly saw, and one that he undoubtedly did see.

The first is this one, a pointing man in an advert for The Power Within from Pearson’s magazine (June 1907). I don’t know if Leete was a contributor to Pearson’s at this time, but it was a big illustrated monthly and he would probably have had an eye on it – he certainly did covers for Herbert Jenkins’ Mrs Bindle series in the magazine in 1921. So this advert has to be considered a possible inspiration for Alfred Leete’s Kitchener image. Note the way the word ‘you’ is picked out just below the man’s hand.

A pointing man in an advert from Pearson's magazine (June 1907)

A pointing man in an advert from Pearson’s magazine (June 1907)

The second image that he probably did see is this one:

The pointing man from an advert in London Opinion magazine, 17 September  1910

The pointing man – from an advert in London Opinion magazine, 17 September 1910

Why am I so sure Leete will have seen these? Because Leete was an established illustrator on magazines by 1910, regularly doing covers as well as drawings inside for London Opinion. The latter advert is from London Opinion, of a veterinarian from Kalamazoo in the US, Derk P. Yonkerman, who sold a supposed cure for consumption. Also, there is the illustration below in that very same issue of London Opinion as Yonkerman’s advert – note Leete’s signature to the bottom right. When the war came along, he was in the right place to dash off the ‘Your Country Needs You’ image for the magazine cover.

Drawing by Alfred Leete in the same issue of London Opinion

Drawing by Alfred Leete in the same issue of London Opinion

Cartoon perils of the phone

December 22, 2014
Black and white cartoon: Alfred Leete - the artist behind the 'Kitchener poster - shows this woman yelling into the earpiece of an Edwardian wall phone

Alfred Leete – the artist behind the ‘Kitchener poster – shows this woman yelling into the earpiece of an Edwardian wall phone

Thomas Maybank shows a drunk trying to call using a gong stick. He drew for Punch and did Oojah the elephant series in the Daily Sketch in the 1920s

Thomas Maybank shows a drunk trying to call using a gong stick. He drew for Punch and did Oojah the elephant series in the Daily Sketch in the 1920s

I bumped into a friend a while back who showed me her new mobile phone. Searching the web… email… using it as a torch, she had it mastered – but not receiving calls, where she had failed miserably!

Yet problems with new technology and gadgets are no new thing – who hasn’t done battle with a video recorder? These cartoons from Royal magazine demonstrate the sort of issues that my pal and I would have faced a century ago.

Alfred Leete, Thomas Maybank and Starr Wood were among the black-and-white artists who contributed to this article from 1913 in the Royal magazine.

And no doubt many recipients of new phones this Christmas will be facing similar problems once they’ve got the device charged up.

Starr Wood has been kept waiting on the line once too often!

Starr Wood has been kept waiting on the line once too often!

Tom Browne: every dot counts

April 21, 2014
browne_golferfull500

RULES AND ETIQUETTE OF GOLF: A ball lying in the fork of a tree must be played, or the player will lose a stroke – Tom Browne cartoon for the Tatler

Tom Browne was one of the best black and white artists working the the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. He went out to work at the age of 11 as an errand boy in Nottingham and became apprentice to a lithographic printer where he began to do illustration jobs on the side.

At the age of 21, he moved to Fleet Street and established his reputation with the Weary Willie and Tired Tim cartoon for Harmsworth’s Illustrated Chips from May 1896. His fat and thin tramps carried on into the 1950s (in the hands of other illustrators) and no doubt had a hand in triggering later generations of tramp pairings, such as Laurel & Hardy (first film together in 1921), Samuel Beckett’s Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot (1953) and television’s Bootsie and Snudge (1963).

It’s the details in Browne’s work that count and took him out of cheap comics into the society weeklies such as Punch and Tatler and made him such a hit in the US, in papers such as the New York Times. The Tatler cartoon here is a classic example.

Consider the faces on the dynamic duo hauling up the tubby golfer: just a couple of dots for eyes and a few lines for the features. Yet, look closely and you can immediately tell which way they are looking – one at the golfer and the other at the reader.

Truly, every dot counts.

Tom Browne drawing detail

Tom Browne’s drawing show incredible attention to detail; he could do so much with so little

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design