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, February 29, 2012

Myron Waldman

Myron Waldman was an American animator and illustrator who worked on dozens of cartoons featuring some of the most celebrated characters in animation, including Betty Boop, Popeye, Superman and Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on  23 April 1908, he graduated from the Pratt Institute and was hired as an inker and fill-in artist by the Fleischer Studios in 1930. At that time, the Times Square studio was considered the pre-eminent animation workshop in the US, although its status was soon to be challenged by Walt Disney.

Waldman was promoted to animator for the 1931 Screen Songs cartoon "By the Light of the Silvery Moon". His second short, "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie" (1932) featured the proto-Betty Boop, then a character with dog-like features and floppy ears. Betty was originally an anthropomorphised poodle (voiced by Mae Questel), based on singer Helen Kane, but was given human features in the cartoon "Any Rags" (1932), although her development owed as much to her animators, including Waldman, as it did to brothers Max and David Fleischer, who usually took credit for producing and directing the cartoons. Waldman's other early successes included episodes of the Color Classics series, which was launched as a rival to Disney's Silly Symphonies in 1934. He was head animator on two cartoons nominated for Academy Awards: "Educated Fish" (1937) and "Hunky and Spunky" (1939).

Waldman remained with the Fleischers when the studio was moved to Miami and worked on the modestly successful Gulliver's Travels feature film. He was one of the principal animators for the Fleischers' "Popeye the Sailor" colour series and, in 1941, was principal animator on "Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy".

After a disastrous second feature film, the Fleischers regrouped back in New York as Famous Studios, under the control of Paramount, which Waldman joined after serving three years in the US Army. Here he worked on numerous shorts featuring Baby Huey, Herman and Katnip, Little Lulu and Casper the Friendly Ghost. He also had a sideline drawing comics, including "Happy the Humbug" in 1940 and one of the first graphic novels, Eve: A Pictorial Love Story in 1943.

He left Famous in 1957 to become animation director of Hal Seeger productions where he helped revive the Out of the Inkwell series, starring Betty Boop and Koko the Clown, and worked on the Milton the Monster TV series until his retirement in 1968.

According to a New York Times obituary, "In later years he travelled and lectured, creating paintings for galleries and working on a musical feature that never came to fruition. In the 1990s he was honored with retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, the American Museum of the Moving Image and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art." He was rewarded with the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Award in 1986 and the Winsor McCay Award for his lifetime achievements in animation in 1997.

Waldman, who lived in Wantagh, New York, died of congestive heart failure at New Island Hospital in Bethpage, NY, on 4 February 2006, aged 97. He was survived by his wife, Rosalie, who was an animation checker at the Fleischer Studio in the early 1940s; two sons and three grandchildren also survived him.

Examples of artwork by Myron Waldman can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

William Vance

William Vance is the pen-name under which William van Cutsem worked for many years, his distinctive, realistic style finding favour across Europe, although, until recent years, his work was little known in the UK, a situation that has begun to change thanks to the reprinting of the series "XIII", eleven volumes of which have appeared in the UK since May 2010.

Born in Anderlecht, near Brussels, Belgium, on 8 September 1935, Van Cutsem performed his military service in 1955-56 before studying art for three years at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, graduating with a First in drawing. He worked in advertising before making an impression with his comics in the pages of Journal de Tintin, at first, from 1962, with complete short stories, many of them historicals written by Yves Duval, and then with the character Howard Flynn, a young British naval officer, also written by Duval. The stories were collected in three albums in 1966-69.

In 1965-68, he drew the western strip "Ringo", but it was with his next two strips that he found his biggest success to date. "Bruno Brazil", published in Tintin from 1967, featured the exploits of an elite group of American secret service agents known as the Cayman Commandos, whose hair-raising exploits appeared in a number of short stories before their first full-length serial, "Le requin qui mourut deux fois" ("The Shark who Died Twice"), collected in album form in 1969. Written by Michel (Greg) Regnier under the pen-name Louis Albert, a further eight albums appeared between 1970 and 1977, plus the collection Dossier Bruno Brazil; in 1995, La Lombard published a final volume, La Fin...!??.

Parallel to this, Vance met even greater success as the artist of "Bob Morane". The strip was based on a series of adventure novels by Belgian novelist Henri Vernes (Charles-Henri Dewisme) which ran to over 200 titles. Morane's adventures were adapted into comic strips in the pages of Femmes d'Aujourn'hui, beginning in 1959; they subsequently moved to Pilote, drawn by Gerald Forton who was succeeded by William Vance in 1967. The first series by Vance (Operation "Chevalier Noir") was reprinted as an album by Dargaud in 1969, the first of 18 series — serialised in Pilote and Tintin — that Vance would illustrated over the next decade. In 1979, he left the strip in the hands of his former assistant, his brother-in-law Felicisimo Coria, who continues to draw the strip to this day.

Vance launched a number of new series in the 1970s, "Ramiro", set in medieval Spain, which ran for ten albums, "Roderic", which lasted only two, and "Bruce J. Hawker", another series about a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, which ran to seven volumes.

In 1984, Jean Van Hamme approached him with the idea for "XIII", the violent, contemporary action story of a man who awakes with no memory of his past (it was inspired by Robert Ludlum's 1980 novel, The Bourne Identity). Serialised in Spirou, the series has inspired video games and two television series (one starring Val Kilmer). Set in America, the story follows XIII — named after a tattoo he finds on his collarbone — as he sets about discovering who he is and before long finds himself being hunted by assassins and the FBI and involved in a plot to kill the President.

In 1991, Vance took over the artwork for Jean (Moebius) Giroud's "Marshall Blueberry", but produced only two albums; another brief series was "XHIG-C3 — Le vasisseau rebell", which proved to be a one-off. However, "XIII" continued with increasing success through the 1990s and early 2000s until Vance and Jean Van Hamme brought the series to an end after 19 volumes (one drawn by Jean Giroud), the final volume bringing the story full circle and revealing the true identity of XIII.

In 2005, Vance was awarded the Bronzen Adhemar by the Flemish Ministry of Culture for his work on "Bob Morhane" and "XIII". In October 2009 he was made an Honorary Citizen of the City of Brussels by Mayor Freddy Thielemans. Vance, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease, announced in 2010 that he was retiring from drawing comics.

Examples of artwork by William Vance can be found at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

George Wakefield

Better known as Bill or Billy Wakefield, George William Wakefield was one of the stalwarts of the Amalgamated Press story papers and comics of the early 20th century.

Born in Hoxton, London, on 13 November 1887, he was the son of George Thomas Wakefield, a house decorator, and his wife Maria (nee Thorpe), who worked as a charwoman. He was baptized at St Leonard's, Shoreditch on 11 December 1887. Bill grew up in Bethnal Green, his family including a younger sister, Nellie,  and was educated locally before winning a scholarship to the Camberwell School of arts and Crafts.

Wakefield began submitting cartoons of Edwardian papers and sold his first to Ally Sloper's Half Holiday in 1906; from 1907 he began appearing regularly in Scraps and other papers published by James Henderson. His earliest comic strip, "Baron de Cuff and the Hon. Samuel Shiney" appeared in The Comic Companion (a supplement of You and I magazine) in 1908, followed by "Tap Room Tales" in Scraps.

Until he was established, Wakefield was also a part-time boxer: big (5' 8 1/2", 158 pounds) and thickset he fought amateur heavyweight matches and exhibitions at funfairs. Despite his size and ham-like fists, his speciality soon began to develop: young, sweet but sexy girls for serials in the saucy magazine Photo Bits. Introduced to Frederick Caldwell of the Amalgamated Press, Wakefield found himself drawing flappers for Caldwell's story paper Fun & Fiction ("Gertie Goodsort and her Little Sister Sue"), Merry & Bright ("Gertie and Gladys"), Firefly ("Gertie Gladeyes") and The Favourite Comic ("Flossie and Phyllis, the Fascinating Flappers"). At the same time he was drawing cherub-faced young lads for The Penny Wonder in 1912.

Wakefield married Anne Beatrice Cordwell in 1908 and began raising a family in Stoke Newington with the birth of Poppy Marie (later Bott, 1909-1996) and Terence George (1911-1989).

During the Great War, Wakefield enlisted in February 1916 to serve with  the 6th Battalion City of London Rifles and was mobilized in June. However, he was discharged in November 1917 suffering from chronic gastritis and duodenal ulcers — a condition he had suffered from prior to his war service — which would require hospital treatment. He returned to drawing comics with "Carrie the Girl Chaplin" in Merry & Bright.

In 1918, he began a long association with The Boys' Friend illustrating the "Rookwood" stories of Owen Conquest (Charles Hamilton) until 1926. It was, however, in the pages of Film Fun that he made his greatest mark, his talents for capturing a likeness without turning it into a caricature setting the style for Fred Cordwell's new paper when it was launched in 1920. Wakefield's contributions featuring stars of the silent movies ranged from child star Baby Marie Osborne to comedian Ben Turpin. The paper proved so popular that Kinema Comic was launched four months later, with Wakefield contributing "Fatty Arbuckle", "Ford Sterling", "Larry Semon" and "Walter Forde" to the new title. 

Apart from a number of sportsmen given similar treatment in the pages of the short-run Sports Fun, and "The Jolly Rover" strip for the cover of My Favourite, Wakefield's main output continued to be for Film Fun, where he drew the comical adventures of Jackie Coogan, Wesley Barry and Grock (Charles Adrien Wettach), the "king of clowns", before achieving his most long-lasting success drawing the adventures of Laurel and Hardy, which he drew from 1930 until his death.

Other sets in Film Fun in the 1930s included Joe E. Brown, Wheeler and Woolsey, Shirley Temple, George Formby, Max Miller and Lupino Lane. Wakefield also drew story paper headings for Bullseye and Surprise, contributed complete dramatic adaptations of movies to the early issues of Film Picture Stories and humour strips "Chubby and Chirpy" and "The Flighty Pranks Freddie Flip and Uncle Bunkle" to Sparkler and "Teacher Trotter" to Comic Cuts.

Wakefield died in Norwich Hospital in Norfolk on 12 May 1942, aged 54. His influence on the style of British comics was profound, with artists on Film Fun — then the best-selling comic in the UK — told to work in his style. Some of his sets, including "Laurel and Hardy", were continued after his death by his son, Terry.

Examples of George Wakefield's artwork can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Clive Uptton

Born in Highbury, London, on 12 March 1911, the son of William Clive, who worked for Swain's, the engravers, as a process artist and later for the Daily Mail, and his wife Margaret E. (nee Rimmington). Clive Upton was educated at Brentwood Grammar School, Essex, and Southend Art School before attending Central Art School, London, and, later, Heatherley's.

Upton began contributing illustrations professionally at the age of 19 before he graduating from Central Art School. When he noticed that another artist named Upton was illustrating stories for the Evening Standard, he changed his name, adding a second 't', so that their work would not be confused. From his studio in Cheapside, Uptton contributed illustrations to most of the major magazines of the day, including The Strand, Tit-Bits, Good Housekeeping, Women's Illustrated, Tatler, Radio Times, John Bull and The Sphere. Through the agencies of Owen Aves and Clement Danes, he also produced advertising illustrations for a variety of clients (GEC, Johnnie Walker, Mars, Bovril, Guinness, Horlicks, Kelloggs and Nestle), dust jackets for books and illustrations for instructional pamphlets. One of his assignments involved travelling to Ghana on behalf of the Colonial Office to produce a booklet on how to grow better cocoa beans.

Between 1940 and 1942, Uptton was the political cartoonist of the Daily Sketch and Sunday Graphic, and also worked for the Ministry of Information producing propaganda cartoons and posters, as well as serving in the Home Guard. Some of his drawings for the Daily Sketch were reproduced on card and sold to readers.

After the war he had a varied career as an illustrator for magazines and books, and as a painter of both landscapes and portraits, with Harold Macmillan and Anthony Eden amongst those who sat for him. His posters won prizes in the National Outdoor Advertising Awards in 1958 and 1959. He was active and popular with his peers, being a member of the Chelsea Arts Club, the Savage and London Sketch Club.

In the 1960s and 1970s he was a prolific contributor to Treasure, Look and Learn and World of Wonder, the children's educational magazines. He was one of the most prolific contributors to Treasure from its inception in 1963, most notably producing many back covers featuring short verses and front covers on a variety of subjects. He continued to work as a book illustrator until 1987 when his eyesight began to fail.

Uptton lived in west London and was twice married; his second wife, Vivian Elizabeth C Bannerman, whom he married in 1965, died in 1997. Uptton died on 11 February 2006, shortly before his 95th birthday.

Examples of Clive Uptton's artwork can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Steve Woron

Steve Woron is an American artist best known for his female fantasy art featuring vampires, witches, warriors and mermaids. He was one of the early popularisers of 'good girl art' published through the comics distribution networks. Although they seem to dominate the comics' industry today, the kind of vampires and vixens Woron was drawing were less ubiquitous in the late 1980s. He was one of the first artists to tap into the nostalgia craze for Bettie Page as a pin-up icon in the 1990s, publishing two issues of Betty Page: The 50's Rage in 1993 (reprinted 1996 and 2001).

Steven J. Woron was born in Connecticut on 14 January 1958, the son of Alexander J. Woros and his wife Irene (nee Dabros). He received a BA in Fine Art from the University of Hartford Art School and subsequently taught in High School and privately as well as spending two years as a commercial illustrator as well as 'ghosting' for a famous New York commercial artist.

He attended his first comics' convention in 1978 and launched Spectrum Comics in 1982, producing four comic books, including the 4-issue The Survivors (1983-84) which he both wrote and drew; a year later, he launched The Illustration Studio. From 1984 he was the senior creative artist for a national printing company before turning freelance in 1987, when he began self-publishing prints and portfolios of exotic and erotic fantasy artwork.

He has since gone on to produce trading cards, t-shirts, jackets and other formats. His publications from Illustration Studio include The Art of Steve Woron (1991), The Complete Steve Woron Checklist (1991) and The Steve Woron Treasury (1992) and the comic book format Woron's World (1993-94). As well as illustrations, Woron is also a popular photographer of swimsuit models.

Woron was married Darla Addley, who has also been involved in the comics industry, in 1981 (divorced 1992); he married Laurie Maynard in 1993. He now lives in Vernon, Rockville, Connecticut.

Examples of Steve Woron's artwork can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.