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Monday, February 08, 2016

Illustrators #13

The latest issue of Illustrators leads off with a lengthy appreciation of Mitch O'Connell, the self-proclaimed "World's Best Artist" from Boston, although nowadays based in Chicago. A lover of kitsch, he revels in the lowbrow, trash culture of America. Growing up on comics and monster magazines, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and American Academy of Art, quitting when he began receiving commissions from Heavy Metal, Playboy and the Chicago Sun-Times.

After a couple of years as art director at a role-playing games company, he drew the graphic novel The World of Ginger Fox (1986) and commercial illustrations. His most lucrative assignment was creating clip art for ad agencies, newspapers and magazines. His books have included Good Taste Gone Bad, Pwease Wuv Me and the 2013 retrospective Mitch O'Connell: The World's Best Artist.

Diego Cordoba's feature is heavily illustrated with O'Connell's brightly coloured pop art cartoons which range from tattoo designs of Elvis to unused character designs for Dastardly and Muttley.

I'm usually more at home with painters and illustrators of a more realistic persuasion, so the article on Sep E. Scott is a real delight.Primarily a poster and advertising artist during the years before the Second World War, Scott's bold use of figures made him an excellent choice as a cover artist for comics in his latter days. Usually chosen to tackle swashbuckling characters, Scott's figures in heroic action were a highlight of Thriller Comics Library in the 1950s.

David Ashford provides many examples of Scott's earlier poster work, delightfully promoting various destinations served by railways, and adverts for Mars, Lifebuoy and Players. There's also some interesting comparisons made between some of Scott's later covers for War Picture Library and the film stills he used for inspiration.

Jeff Miracola is a fantasy artist whose work I was unaware of as his work was for the role-playing trading card company Wizards of the Coast, with later work appearing from Blizzard Entertainment and Warhammer; he's also worked in design for toys and games.

Editor Peter Richardson also interviews children's book illustrator Brooke Boynton Hughes, who paints beautiful, simple images in watercolour, and the issue is wrapped up with a brief look at the work of Tor (Victoria) Upson who has worked in theatre design and illustration.

For more information about Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website where you can also find details of their online editions. Issue 14 should include features on Tara McPherson, Joe Jusko, Maurice Leloir and Adam Stower. 

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