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Monday, May 22, 2017

Illustrators #18 (Spring 2017)

Mort Drucker, who leads off the latest issue of Illustrators, is famous for his caricatures of movies, TV shows, stars and celebrities. To anyone who has ever stumbled across MAD Magazine his work is instantly recognisable. His strength is that he not only produces spot on caricatures but that he places them in richly detailed and realistic settings. This maybe reflects his earliest artistic experiences drawing backgrounds for 'Debby Dean, Career Girl' for six months in 1947.

The 18-year-old had no formal art training but soon found himself working on the staff at National (later DC Comics) before going freelance in the 1950s, which led him to work as a cover artist (notably for Time), poster artist and illustrator for books, magazines, comics and advertising for the next six decades. Answering an advert in 1956 led him to MAD Magazine and launched a 55-year relationship which saw him parody everything from Saturday Night Fever to Star Trek.

Not so well known is Ernest Garcia Cabral, a Mexican cartoonist who trained in Paris and learned to tango in Buenos Aires. He brought Art Nouveau and Art Deco painting to South America, acted in movies and was one of the leading newspaper and magazine illustrators of the 1920s to the '60s.

This is followed by my favourite piece in this issue: a look at the origins and art of Puffin Books. The famous imprint was launched by Penguin Books-creator Allen Lane in 1939 at the suggestion of Country Life editor Noel Carrington when they met over lunch a year earlier. With Puffin Picture Books a success, 1940 saw the arrival of Puffin Story Books, but the line only became a phenomenon with the arrival of Kaye Webb, who grew the publishing line from 150 titles to 1,200 in her 20 years in charge.

Somewhat cheekily, this issue includes an interview with Illustrators editor, Peter Richardson, himself an illustrator, while the issue is wrapped up with a brief piece on Katyuli Lloyd, who found early success with her illustrations for Virginia Woolf's Flush: A Biography, which earned her a number of award nominations and commissions from The Folio Society. The issue closes with a short appreciation of John Watkiss.

For more information on Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website, where you can also find details of their online editions, and news of upcoming issues. Issue 19 will feature James (Dinotopia) Gurney, Erik Kriek, J.O.B. and Philip Mendoza.

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