This project will hit the pavement for real around September 1, 2007. I look forward to using this medium to form thoughts about the sprawling realm of pictorial graphic culture, and to foster discussion and exchange about commercial images and what they mean. The image above was taken from the cover of a textbook titled The Making of Modern America, published in 1960--the year of my birth--by Houghton Mifflin as part of the Riverside Social Studies Series. Ah the majesty of hydroelectric power, commercial shipping, and modern chemical production; o the immaculate cityscape and handsome (plus handy) hills, just past the crisply-defined edge of settlement. It's all quite hopeful and confident: industrial-arcadian self-sufficiency. Sheeler, a little buzzed, with watercolors from a helicopter. The spatial compression of high desert, widening river, green foothills, urban architecture and ocean port activity is agreeably managed. The illustrator is uncredited.
The above text is seven years old: the very first post on Graphic Tales. As were pulling together material for migrating early, substantive posts, I pulled this book off the shelf, which has stuck around somehow. I was struck by the little figures inserted into the table contents, one vignette per unit: the Gilded Age fat cats to represent political parties (then and now???) and the seeming martinet with an oversize legal pad for Becom[ing] a World Leader.
Here's a surveyor for Unit Eight: Mighty Economic Forces Compete for Mastery in Modern America.
Best of all, by far, is the beret-wearing painter with platter-sized palette at his canvas for Unit Nine: The American People Develop a Modern Way of Life.