Illustration Art Gallery

The very best from the wide, sometimes overlooked, world of illustration art, including original artwork for book illustrations and covers, comic books and comic strips, graphic novels, magazines, film animation cels, newspaper strips, poster art, album covers, plus superb fine art reproductions and high quality art prints.

Our gallery brings together artists from all over the world and from many backgrounds, including fantasy, horror, romance, science fiction, education, sport, history, nature, technology, humour, glamour, architecture, film & tv, whimsy, even political satire and caricature.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mike Arens

Michael H. Arens was born in California on 2 December 1915 and began his career as an animator, joining Walt Disney Studios as a production artist in 1937. He worked on the Dance of the Hours segment of Fantasia, and on Pinocchio. After performing his military service in 1942-47, Arens became a regular newspaper strip artist with "Hey, Mac!" (1947-61).

He turned to comic books in the late 1940s, drawing artwork for Street & Smith's Top Secrets in 1949. From 1952, he drew dozens of strips for Dell Publishing, his first work mostly western strips such as Gene Autry (1951-52, 1954-55, 1957), The Frontiersman (1952-58), Buck Jones (1953-54), Rex Allen (1953, 1956-57), Flying-A's Range Rider (1954-55), Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955), Dale Evans (1956), Chuckwagon Charley (c.1958), and various for Western Roundup (1952-58).

Arens began producing Disney characters for overseas comics sucg as the British Huckleberry Hound comic in 1961-62. For Western Publishing he drew a variety of Disney and adventure strips, including Chip 'n' Dale (Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, 1962), Goofy (1963), Donald Duck (1963), Mary Poppins (Gold Key one-shot, 1964), My Favourite Martian (1964-66), Tarzan (1965-66) and Korak (1966).

For King Features he drew the Roy Rogers Sunday strip (1959-62), "Uncle Remus and his Tales of Br'er Rabbit" (1968), "Mickey Mouse" (1968) and both daily and Sunday episodes of Scamp (with inker Manuel Gonzales, 1969-76). Arens was also responsible for a number of Disney Christmas Stories--including "Snow White's Christmas Surprise" (1966) and "Dumbo and the Christmas Mystery" (1967)--and many newspaper adaptations for King Features/Walt Disney Productions, including "The Horse in the Gray Flannel" (1968), "One Little Indian" (1973), "Robin Hood" (1973-74), "Alice in Wonderland" (1974), "Herbie Rides Again" (1974), "The Bears and I" (1974), "The Island at the Top of the World" (1974-75), "Escape to Witch Mountain" (1975), "The Apple Dumpling Gang" (1975), "One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing" (1976), "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too" (1975), "No Deposit, No Return" (1975-76), "Gus" (1976) and "Treasure of Matecumbe" (1976).

Arens had a parallel career in animation from 1965, working as a story director for Grantray-Lawrence on their Spider-Man and Marvel Superheroes animated shows. In 1967 he became a layout artist for Hanna-Barbera, working on dozens of animated TV shows, including Fantastic 4 (1967), The Banana Splits Adventure Hour (1968-70), Scooby Doo, Where Are You! (1969-70), Harlem Globe Trotters (1970), The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show (1971), The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972), A Christmas Story (1972), Goober and the Ghost Chasers (1973), Jabberjaw (1976), The Scooby-Doo / Dynomutt Hour (1976) and Dynomutt Dog Wonder (1978).

He was also layout artist on Charlotte's Web, the 1973 Hanna-Barbera movie adaptation of E. B. White's classic novel about a pig trying to avoid being killed for Christmas and a spider who tries to save him. In 1975 he also produced promotional material for Burger King.

He died on 19 June 1976, aged 61, following a motorcycle accident at Soldedad Canyon, Los Angeles Co., California. He was survived by his wife, Olivia, and three children, Michael, Michelle Diana (1948- ) and Halli Christine (1954-1999).

Examples of Arens' work can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

John McNamara

A self-portrait of the artist, lighting a pipe, a globe showing travel between Woking (England) and Wellington (New Zealand) to one side

John Joseph McNamara, born 20 April 1918, began his artistic career as a teenager around 1934, drawing caricatures of film, sporting and local personalities for numerous New Zealand publications, including Paramount Theatre of Stars (1935), Standard (1936), Radio Record, New Zealand Sporting Life and Referee, Junior for NZ, Boys and Girls (1937-38), Clarion (1938), Cappicade (1937-39) and Katipo (1940). By the late 1930s he was also a political cartoonist working regularly for the Southern Cross where his work continued to appear until at least 1951.

He drew hundreds of caricatures and illustrations of famous sporting figures of the era including footballers Jim Taylor, Jack Lee, Neil Franklin and Dennis Compton, rugby players Morrie Doyle, Billy Wallace, Stan Dean, Ken Jones, boxers Cyril Hurne, Time Tracy, Eddie Thomas and Don Cockell, golfer Zoe Hudson, snooker world champion Joe Davis, cricketers Freddie Brown and Len Hutton, jockeys Lester Piggott and Gordon Richards and others, including illustrations of the 1948 Olympic team and a series of portraits of rugby players involved in New Zealand's 1949 tour of South Africa.

At the same time he continued to draw political cartoons for Southern Cross and New Zealand Listener, including aspects of the 1949 election in which Peter Fraser was defeated by Sidney Holland. McNamara was critical of the latter's links with the British Conservatives.

McNamara travelled to the UK in March 1950 at the age of 31 and found work on British newspapers. Although the full extent of his work over here is unknown, he appears to have found work fairly quickly. Two early strips -- possibly published in the Daily Mail -- featured "Bats" Belfry, which had a horse racing background and involved bet setting and detective work, and an adaptaion of C. S. Forester's character Horatio Hornblower. McNamara also found work with Amalgamated Press drawing issues of Thriller Comics, ranging from adaptations of Westward Ho!, The Red Badge of Courage and Hopalong Cassidy to the adventures of Dick Turpin and Robin Hood.

In the mid- to late-1950s, McNamara took over the artwork for Francis Durbridge's "Paul Temple" comic strip, which had been appearing regularly in the London Evening News since 1951, originally drawn by Alfred Sindall and subsequently by Bill Bailey.

McNamara drew the popular strip until it came to an end on 1 May 1971, during which time Paul Temple underwent a change in appearance so that the character in the newspaper resembled Francis Matthews, who played Temple in the BBC TV series (1969-71). The strip came to an end shortly after the TV show's third season finished.

McNamara died in Surrey in February 2001, aged 82.

Artwork for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery by John McNamara can be found here.

(* The portrait of McNamara is from the archive of the National Library of New Zealand.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Severino Baraldi

Severino Baraldi was born on 10 December 1930 in Sermide, a small village 50 kilometres from Mantova in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. As a boy, he entertained customers of the local barber by with his chalk drawings on the pavement. He worked as a carpenter, drawing cartoons for a local paper whose editor encouraged him to seek his fortune in the capital of the Lombardy region.

In September 1955, aged 25, Baraldi left Sermide (population under 6,000) for Milan (population over 6.5 million), where he worked for an advertising agency for a year whilst attending the Scuola d'Arte Castello di Milano. His work attracted the attention of the Pagot brothers, who ran a studio producing animated cartoons, but Baraldi turned down their offer in favour of another to illustrate The Bible for the periodical Il Messaggero di Sant'Antonio, published in Padova. After completing two volumes, Baraldi was offered work by a number of other publishing houses producing illustrations for educational books and books for boys and contributing to Piccoli, Le Stelle, Boschi, Argo, Raiteri and Noseda.

For La Sorgente ['The Source'] he illustrated various books ranging from the history of the car, the history of trains and the history of pirates to Il gatto con gli stivali ['Puss in Boots'] and Incanto di fiabe ['Enchanted Stories'].

1962-63 was a major era for Baraldi with the publication of Ulisse ['Ulysses'], adapted from 'The Odyssey' by Gino Fischer, Lo Schianccianoci, based on the work by E. T. A. Hoffman, and Ciuffo Biondo, an adaptation of 'Peer Gynt' by Anna Maria De Benedetti. Ulisse and Ciuffo Biono were praised by the reviewer for Radiotelevisione Italiana for their elegant illustrations, which helped to establish the name of the artist who often signed his work with the abbreviation 'Bar'.

At the same time, Baraldi was illustrating the story of Marco Polo and, for Milan publisher Casa Editirice, a variety of other books for children.

For seven years, Baraldi was a prolific illustrator for the British magazine Look and Learn. He also painted seven covers for Commando in 1981-82 and two more in 1988-89.

Baraldi also had a long association with Famiglia Cristiana, producing some 800 illustrations for the weekly magazine and educational cards for their junior magazine, Il Giornalino. He also produced historical illustrations for Fratelli Fabbri Editore's Enciclopedia Scoprire ['Encyclopedia of Discovery'].

Baraldi collaborated with Italian journalist Piero Angela on Quark, a documentary series, working on a programme about the Persian Army in the Egyptian desert based on the writings of ancient Greek historian Herodotus.

Shoganhunkan, the large Japanese publisher, commissioned Baraldi to illustrate biographies of famous people from Galileo and Marie Curie to Napoleon. When the same company created a competition for artists of different nationalities to illustrate images of the land of the rising sun, Baraldi was given the first prize of a trip to Tokyo.

He continued to work in Italy, illustrating books for De Agostini on intrepid navigators Marco Polo and Columbus and adventure books for boys. For the Greek publisher Stratikis, he illustrated 25 volumes of stories, mythology and famous people.

Eight years later, in 1994, Fratelli Fabbri offered him the job of illustrating a version of the Bible transcribed by Monsignor Ravasi, of the Papal Commission. This proved to an extremely difficult assignment requiring a great deal of research which lasted two years; Baraldi produced over 100 illustrations for the book, entitled La Bibbia : storie dell'antico e del nuovo te, which was published around the world (in Britain as The Bible for Children).

More recently, Baraldi illustrated biographies of musicians Dvorak and Verdi for a publisher in Taiwan.In all, Baraldi has contributed to over 220 books and produced 7,500 illustrations. The village of Sermide dedicated an exhibition to his work in June 1997. He continued to work for Famiglia Cristiana and Il Giornalino until retiring a few years ago. Now he is content to be be a family man, the father of three daughters and six grandchildren.

Many stunning paintings by Baraldi are available to buy at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ralph Bruce

Ralph Bruce was a talented illustrator who worked for Look and Learn in the 1960s. Until the mid-1960s he was a regular artist for The Children's Newspaper and was probably brought to the educational paper by former Children's Newspaper editor, John Davies, who took over the editorship of Look and Learn in 1965.

His artwork covered a huge range of subjects. His historical illustrations ranged from ancient Greece and Roman Britain, to the eras of Shakespeare, Caxton and modern journalism. He was particularly adept at portraits and drew everyone from Dickens to the Beatles for Look and Learn as well as contributing covers for various series, including "Famous Couples" and "When They Were Young" in the late 1960s. Some of his best work was contributed to the long-running series "The Story of Opera", penned by Robin May, which gave Bruce full scope for some imaginative scenes as well as realistic portrayals of famous opera composers of the past. At the other end of the scale, Bruce also drew a fascinating history of soccer.

Prior to working for Look and Learn, Bruce had illustrated book covers for Digit Books in the late 1950s, titles including The Deep Six by Martin Dibner, I Came Back by Krysyna Zywulska, White August by John Boland, Air Patrol Biscay by Richard T. Bickers, Horns of the Dragon by Felix Trigg, Battle of the Bulge by William M. Stokoe, The God of Channel 1 by Donald Stacy, Nor Iron Bars a Cage by W. H. Aston, all in 1957. (There was also an artist who signed his name Bruce who worked for Pan Books in 1947-49, who may or may not be Ralph Bruce.) In 1970, he illustrated two slim volumes—Ancient Egypt and Football—for Beckenham-based publisher Patterson Blick.

The only background information I have been able to discover about Bruce is that he was a member of the Chelsea Arts Club, whose available records don't go back that far. There is a Ralph Bruce listed in contemporary phone records who lived at 13 Rudall Crescent, Hampstead, London N.W.3 for many years but this may be a red herring. Although an uncommon combination of names, there are still two Ralph Bruces who died in the area: Ralph Sinclair Bruce (b. 6 November 1908 in Chorlton, Lancs.) who died in Hampstead in 1975, and Ralph George H. Bruce (b. 8 March 1885 in St. Saviour, Southwark) who died in Brent district in 1982. The latter would be a better fit for the telephone book address (which was listed between 1952 and 1982), but our artist was active in 1970, when Ralph George H. Bruce was in his mid-eighties.

Further information on Ralph Bruce would be very welcome. In the meantime, Illustration Art Gallery is pleased to offer some examples of his work for sale which reveal the talent of this almost unknown artist.