Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Pain in the Ads

Wednesday advertising day.

When I first started scanning, I came across a series of interesting looking ads in a very lively style that looked like some of Lee Elias more frivolous work, signed Betts. I couldn't place the name, nor did I come across any mention of it in any books or websites about comics and comic strips or anything written about Johnstone & Cushing. I suggested the name Betts might be a pseudonym. Not very long after this I came across the the work of an illustrator called Jack Betts in some issues of Collier's in 1953. Not only did he illustrate the weekly column Keep Up With The World for more than half a year, he also illustrated at least one article, in a style that was very similar to the Ben Gay and Nestlé ads. Searching the web for a Jack Betts, again I found very little about him, apart from a short mention somewhere that he illustrated a book in the late thirties and the fact that he illustrated a booklet about the dangers of foreign spies for the Citizenship Educational Service in 1940 called Footprints of the Trojan horse; some methods used by foreign agents within the United States. So we have a name and the outlines of a career path, but he remains a mystery. How could an artist with such a distinct style appear in the late forties, work for five years an then completely disappear. There must be some people out there, who still know about Jack Betts. Maybe they can enlighten us.

A Neddy Nestlé ad from 1953:

A Peter Pain ad from 1954:

An undated Peter Pain, possibly later:

Two Keep Up With The World columns, which were illustrated by many people, but for a short period between late 1952 and fall 1953, it was Jack Betts regular assignment:

An illustrated article from November 12 1949. I have added the text, as it is still valid today. Click on the illustration to see a larger version:

As a bonus I am adding a Hank Ketcham ad from the February 3rd 1951 issue of Collier's. There's nothing remarkable about this ad, except for the fact you can see his abbreviated signature (K.) which he seems to have used for assignments he did without having to provide a gag.

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