Harry and Alfred Make Pictures of People

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.









Some hat!










A sailor pulled in two directions, one more attractive than the other. 


Al Parker, Restaurant fight breaking out in front of jungle wallpaper, watercolor(?) and gouache with additions in dry media, date and citation unavailable, circa 1940.

Parker, Be-robed man with plumed knight’s helmet speaking with woman, watercolor(?) and gouache with additions in dry media, date and citation unavailable, circa 1940. 

Parker, An emblem as famous as the people it serves, two-page spread advertisement for American Airlines, circa 1959. 

Harry Beckhoff, “Excuse me sir, but it’s the truth!” Collier's Weekly, April 5, 1941 [all of these Beckhoff images are fiction illustrations published in Collier's]. 

Beckhoff, “Calfs are seldom house broke,” June 12, 1941. 

Beckhoff, Miss Wilson gasped at Peter March, June 1, 1939.

Beckhoff, He held is beloved drum aside, March 4, 1939.  

Beckhoff, We did a bit of firsting stuff together, April 9, 1938.

Beckhoff, "Boys, Boys!" March 1, 1941. 

Beckhoff, “I smell Nassau in May,” June 17, 1939. 

Beckhoff, “Mr. Lethbridge,” cried Sally, “meet my fiancé!”, January 8, 1938.

Beckhoff, A Sailor pulled in Two Directions, January 16, 1937.