Wednesday, June 12, 2019

It Pays To Advertise

Wednesday Adverising Day.

I haven't shared a lot of advertising strips from the fifties lately, mainly because I have shown so many already. Another thing that is hlding me back, is my inabillity to determine the artist on most of them. Here are a couple with some comments, just to show how my thing goes.

The main provider for Sunday Newspaper advertising strips was the Johnstone and Advertising agency. Some artists worked or were approched on their own, but most of the work came through J&C in some way. Not very much is know about the workings of this outfit, except that some of the rugulars working at the office in the forties and fifties were Dik Browne, Gill Fox, Bill Williams, Jack Betts, Elmer Wexler, Craig Flessel and Stan Drake. Stan Drake was the only one not signing his work - and the only one to clain afterwards that he was one of the first to be allowed to sign.

Stan Drake's work is often recognizable, although he did admit in several interviews that he had to learn how to draw realistically, so maybe the earlier pieces are harder to spot. Dik Browne worked at the office and told many storie about how the guys used to play practicle jokes on each other. For a long time I thought that meant everyone working for J&C worked at the office. But these days I am not so sure any more. Longer running accounts were often handled by a regular artist, so they may have been doing that out of their own home. Others may have walked in and grabbed assignments. It is remarkable for a company so commercial, that most of the artwork seems to have been done by one artist, though sometimes with different inkers.

Elmer Exler was one of the mainstays as far as realistic art is concerned. Neal Adams told me that in the later days Wexler acted as a mentor to him and showed him te ropes. From some of the catalogues we know that one of Wexler's regular accounts was Rusty and Dusty. That gives us a nice basis for his style in the fifties. You can see some of those here: And here is one with two new Rusty and Dustys after it:

Another series I suspected Wexler to have had a hand in, is the long running Sal Hepatica series, some of which can be found here: And although there are similarities, now that I have a couple in color, they do remind me of another artist, whom I did not know worked at Johnstone and Cushing (but may have). Al Avison was a journeyman artist, who worked a lot with Joe Simon at Harvey. He did a lot of covers for the Harvey horror titles, more than he did stories. His swirling style can be seen in these samples.

Here are two of his Harvey covers.

Another artist working for Johnstone and Cushing in the early fifties was Ken Bald. Blad had started out as a romance artist at Timely-Atlas and would go on to do newspaper strips Dr. Kildare and Dark Shadows. His style in the fifties was a lot more slick than it would later become and he is a hard artist to spot. He also drew a lot of romance comics covers for the American Comcis Group, which gives me a basis.

But did he do the Folgers series? He might have, but I don't really think so.

I think the Gem ad is by Bald.

And I have another one, I forgot to clean up. Generic or Bald?

The Mentholeum ad might be by Bald. Though the extra ad on the bottom certainly isn't.

This Halo ad with Ralph Flanagan (the composer of The Typewriter Song) is probably by one of those full color illustrators, trying to work in a clear line style, like Gunnar Peterson.

And since we started with Drake, let's finish with him. I have shown several of these daily ad strips earlier, taken from an online source. But this set are my own scans, from a small collection I aquired. Stan Drake was rumored to have done the Sal Hepatica Sundays. Did he do these as well?

One of the biggest quetions remains: who did the long running Camels celebrity series? There is a similarity in the style if you look through all fifteen years of them. But sometimes one jumps out as being just a bit different.

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