I have written often about the final project in Word and Image 1, which is a Figure, Story and Staging problem. The first order of business involves choosing a set of characters and setting them loose in a narrative. In all cases, anybody who wanders into the picture needs a verb, or something concrete to do. This is a direcorial problem.
We have talked in class about theatrical problems versus cinematic ones. In a movie, the camera can change position to show us what we need to see. In a play, there is no such option. We don't get up and change seats; we see the stage pictures that the director composes for us.
Narrative problems with figures were the stock in trade of midcentury magazine illustrators. We are lucky to have a trove of such work in the Modern Graphic History Library here at Washington University.
Here are some sample works by Al Parker (1906-1985): specifically, Parker's early two-color work, from the late 1930s well into the 40s.
Those pieces show the clever narrative and design sensibility of all Parker's work.
They are still modeled in the manner of the era, before he began to pursue the (occasionally radical) flatness of his work during the 50s.
By comparison, Parker circa 1959, (when flying was totally glamorous).
As a counterpoint, and as a set up for discussing key drawings (also a prior topic, most significantly here) we also looked at a stack of Harry Beckhoff tear sheets from the Charles Craver collection. (I have yet to wade into the Beckhoff file from the Walt Reed collection, but I am greatly looking forward to it!)
I simply love this stuff, both formally and dramatically.
I am posting these examples with relatively little commentary, for reasons of efficiency. The people in these stories are often in formal wear.
A toreador with a drum.
A story told through posture.
Lots of two-fisted types and colorful dames.
An Art Deco tableau.
A sailor pulled in two directions, one more attractive than the other.