Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Unpublished Gems: Thrill-O-Rama

Thought I would end the year showcasing some unpublished pieces and their original printed versions if available, though in this first "Unpublished Gems" installment the book was cancelled before issue #4 ever hit the stands. This "lost" cover was from one of Harvey Comics many short-lived titles, Thrill-O-Rama, illustrated by Silver Age artist Jack Sparling. The mysterious Pirana debuted two issues earlier, trying to ride the huge wave of success from DC Comics Aquaman and Marvel's savage Sub-Mariner but never really found a following. Edward Yates, an Oceanography Institute research scientist offered himself as a guinea pig in an wild experiment designed for humans to live under water. Now transformed by a freak accident, Yates could never live on land again. Trying to see the positive side of every situation, Edward decided to use his super power for good as the Pirana (should that be Piranha) fighting crime with his new fish friends, Bara and Cuda in their only two published stories in 1966. Perhaps if Harvey Comics had spelled their new hero's name correct they would have had better luck with the title?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sensational Strips: Axa

Published by the British daily tabloid The Sun from 1978 to 1986, Axa was a science fiction strip set in the post-apocalyptic Earth year 2080. Written by   Donne Avenell and drawn by Enrique Romero, the feature revolved around a lovely high spirited woman named Axa who having grown tired of her regimented and stifling life in a protected domed city, breaks out to an unknown  wilderness with her boyfriend Jon. There they encounters mutated survivors, strange creatures, robots, aliens and other weird inhabitants in their many adventures together. Though based in science fiction, it seemed more at times like a sword and sorcery barbarian tale as our full-figured heroine ran around in her rag bikini or often to the delight or reader, topless or totally nude. Good-girl artist Romero was the perfect choice to depict the gorgeous Axa for the two thousand two hundred thirty eight dailies of the feature, usually in his three panel format. Unfortunately, no Sunday format was ever introduced, though it would have been interesting to see what Romero could have done on a larger scale based on his few comic stories. Upon its sudden cancellation in the middle of a storyline, the artist returned to draw his previous series Modesty Blaise, though I believe Axa was a better fit for his artistic talents. Axa later appeared in full color in the Spanish magazine Creepy in the mid-eighties for eight issues and had a short two book run for the American comic company Eclipse, though not with all the nudity that was a staple for the British strip. Reprinted in its entirety by Ken Pierce books in a trade paperback, the lovely black and white strip has found a new audience and appreciation over the years since its demise.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Foreign Favorites: Buck Danny

Known as the oldest of the European aviation strips, Buck Danny made his debut in the Belgian comic Spirou on January 2, 1947. Scripted by Jean-Michael Charlier and drawn by Victor Hubinon, it was a high flying strip in the mold of Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates. Buck and his hot-shot sidekick, Sonny Tuckson, were pilots with the US Navy battling the Japanese at Midway in their very first episode. After the war, the flying duo tackled various adventures from Borneo to Arabia, before signing up for action in the Korea War. Later the flying aces join the Air Force to confront the many conflicts during the Cold War. Adding a strong silent type, Jerry Tumbler, as a third member later on in the series, they often got involved in counter espionage tales fighting the lovely master-spy, Lady X. Often borrowing themes from both Steve Canyon and Buz Sawyer, the strip was always a fan favorite due to the accuracy of the machines the team flew. So popular was the strip that it spawned a series of high quality beautiful reprints from Editions Dupuis which showed off the features high-flying lovely detail.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Make Mine Marvel: The Monster Of Frankenstein

With Marvel riding high on the black and white horror magazines from their sister company Curtis Publications, The Monster of Frankenstein soon debuted in January 1973 with a title change to Frankenstein's Monster with issue #6 until it ended due to poor sales with issue #18 in September of 1975. Though Roy Thomas wanted to script the title, Mike Friedrich was chosen to write the issues with Mike Ploog assigned the artistic chores.  Basing his monster loosely after a John Romita drawing and trying to stay away from the look of the Universal monster, Ploog's moody scenes were the perfect choice as early sales were strong. The first four issues was a retelling of Mary Shelly's classic tale, continuing with a few yarns in the 1890s before the jump to modern times by suspended animation. Ploog was a fan favorite for the horror title but departed with the sixth issue, not wanting the creature in modern times, as John Buscema filled in with Bob Brown before Val Mayerik was picked to close out the series. Though Doug Moench's later tales were good, taking over from Friedrich, they never reached the popularity of the first classic issues with story and art. When the title was canceled the monster appeared in the Marvel magazines Monsters Unleashed and Legion Of Monsters and after guest starring throughout the seventies in other Marvel super hero titles, Frankenstein's monster mostly faded away with just a handful of appearances in the years since.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Society of Illustrators Profile: Haddon Sundblom

Born in Muskegan, Michigan, the ninth child of poor Finnish parents, Haddon Sundblom left school at thirteen when his mother died, as the youth he did construction jobs by day and art classes at night. Later, he studied at the American Academy of Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1920, Sundblom was hired as an art apprentice for a studio and by watching McClelland Barclay and other illustrators he assimilated enough knowledge to begin getting work for himself with his first major assignment being for Quaker Oats. The artist formed his own studio in 1925, Stevens Sundblom & Camp; Henry which proved a valuable training ground for many young artists who later became successful illustrators. Sundblom's remarkable brush work and idealized sunny images made him a favorite with both advertisers and the public as he dominated the illustration field in Chicago. One of the first accounts he landed for his budding studio was for Coca-Cola as he designed his iconic scenes of Santa Clause for that company the next thirty years. Originally starting out with a jolly model for Saint Nick, Sundblom eventually aged himself into the perfect Santa role for his paintings. Producing extraordinary paintings for a number of major accounts, the artist also did editorial work, as well as nearly forty years in demand for magazines and ad agencies.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Direct Currents: The Demon

One of Jack Kirby's new series created for DC Comics in 1972, The Demon was a creature called Etrigan, created by the powerful sorcerer Merlin at the fall of King Arthur's Kingdom of Camelot. As the evil Morgan LeFey overran the castle, Merlin unleashed a demon from hell to defend the realm, though the creature was doomed to defeat by LeFay's overwhelming forces. Placing a spell on Etrigan causing him to transform into a human, Etrigan lived on through the succeeding centuries to present day Gotham City. Now under the name of Jason Blood, our hero was unaware of his alter ego until he fell under a spell that transforming him once again into The Demon. At first Blood despised his demonic self wanting to destroy it, but eventually he tried to integrate the two personalities with disappointing results. As Jason Blood's human side grew colder and less humane, the demonic side grew more intelligent and ruthless. Fighting Morgan LeFay and other supernatural menaces, The Demon is different from his family in Hell choosing to defend humanity from mystical threats probably due to Blood's humanizing influence. Being superhuman strong and agile, the creature can often case spells, breathing fire as he speaks his weird rhyming verse that has a macabre effect on his listeners. So when evil forces threaten our world, Blood calls upon the horrible Demon to fight once again.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gold Key Comics...Mighty Samson

Created by writer Otto Binder and artist Frank Thorne in July of 1964, Mighty Samson, was a wandering barbarian adventurer who lived in a devastated area around New York after a future nuclear war. A mutant giant himself, Samson used his strength and street smarts for the good of mankind, keeping a promise to his dying mother. He now fights radiation-spawned mutant beasts and men as he loses an eye in his debut issue by killing a lion/bear creature and using his hide as a cape. Nursed back to help by the beautiful Sharmaine, and her scientist father, Mindor, the trio set off on many unusual adventures around "N'Yark" in its thirty two issue run. Graced with some beautiful painted covers by Morris Gollub, Luis Dominguez, and George Wilson, Thorne's rugged interior pencils and inks were equally a perfect match for the post apocalyptic series. Unfortunately, Frank Thorne left after issue #8 as the series continued under Binder and new artists, Jack Sparling, Jose Delbo, and Jack Abel. An original  series created by Western Printing, who owned the Gold Key line, Mighty Samson lasted until 1969, with a few issues years later in the mid-1970s and finally a last appearance in 1982, though it was licenced for a short time to the Mexican publisher Editorial Novaro under the title Mighty Sanson.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Hal Foster

I was born on August 16, 1892 in Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada. Later moved to Winnipeg and became a trapper. My business career interfered with duck-hunting, so I started to illustrate mail order catalogues. Married Helen Wells in 1915 - irresistible! Have two sons. Went prospecting in 1917. In 1921 I bicycled to Chicago - one thousand miles, illustrated by day and attended art school at night. Began the "Tarzan" Sunday page, liked my work, and then created "Prince Valiant". Have traveled widely for the authentic background material used in my strips. "Prince Valiant" has been awarded the Banshees "Silver Lady" and the National Cartoonist Society "Reuben". A movie has been made by 20th Century Fox and many books have been published. I am in the Museum of Cartoon Art Hall of Fame, won the "Segar Award" and the "Gold Key Award" of the National Cartoonist Society. I moved to Florida from Connecticut in 1971.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Buried Treasure: Dick's Adventures In Dreamland

Newspaper pioneer W.R. Hearst wanted to "incorporate American history in the adventure strips of the comic section" so he persuaded his friends at King Features to create Dick's Adventures in Dreamland. Our hero was a young boy about twelve named Dick who was the lead-in to each historical happening as shown in the first adventure where Dick is advising Christopher Columbus on how to obtain financing for his voyage of discovery. Max Trell was chosen to script the historical adventures as the artistic chores fell into the very capable hands of Neil O'Keeffe. Produced only as a Sunday feature without word balloons but descriptive panel's like Prince Valiant, the strip debuted on January 12, 1947. Having the luxury of a full page format, O'Keeffe had room to lay out well rendered compositions setting the time, place, and social conditions in great detail. Dick dreamed his way into riding with Paul Revere through Lexington and Concord, crossing the Delaware with George Washington, and assisting Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans, just to name a few episodes. Upon the death of Hearst in 1951, Dick's Adventures quickly went from full, to half, to a smaller third-page size, starting a decline in readers as the featured eventually folded in October of 1956.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An Alex Toth Gallery

Born June 25, 1928, Alex Toth was truly an artist's artist, encouraged early on to pursue his talent enrolling in the High School of Industrial Arts, and making  his first professional sale at age fifteen, illustrating pieces for Heroic magazine. Inspired by the great newspaper cartoonists Caniff, Raymond, and Foster, young Alex wanted to follow in their footsteps but found that the industry was "dying" as he moved on to comic books. In 1947, Toth was hired by Sheldon Mayer at National Periodical Publications where he worked for five years  on the Golden Age characters, Dr. Mid-Nite, Green Lantern, Atom, and Flash before ghosting the western Casey Ruggles strip for Warren Tufts. Moving to California in the early 1950s, Toth worked for Standard Comics drawing romance, war, and crime yarns, before being drafted to the U.S. Army. While stationed in Toyko, he drew the strip Jon Fury for the base newspaper, the Depot Diary. Next, working for Dell Comics upon his return to Los Angeles, his superlative storytelling led him to work in television on the Space Angel cartoon show and his eventually landing a position at Hanna-Barbera Studios. His work in design and storyboards on Space Ghost, Birdman, and other classic cartoons for the company made an indelible mark on the medium and inspired many of our finest artists today. Later the artist worked for DC, Warren, Red Circle and other companies until his passing by a heart attack at the drawing table in May of 2006 at the age of seventy seven.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Dell Comics Cover Artist: Henry Hartman

With a career that has lasted over six decades, Henry Hartman, has made his living as an illustrator, commercial graphic designer, and fine art painter. Studying under New York artist Mortimer Wilson Jr., Hartman assisted his mentor on many illustrations for America's top magazines including The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, Red Book, and The Ladies Home Journal, just to name a few. But for original comic art fans, he is best remembered for his lush cover art for Dell Publishing Company's The Lone Ranger series and other of their Old West properties, as shown on this Zane Grey's Range War cover from Four Color #555  in 1954. Also know for his talent as a portrait artist, Hartman did hundreds of commissions in charcoal for the philanthropic organization know as Circus, Saints, and Sinners for their monthly luncheon honoring the special guests. After retiring from his commercial career, Henry pursued his fine art instincts with still-life and landscape pieces, before returning to his first love, the American West and a new selection of Lone Ranger paintings for his many dedicated fans.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Marvel Spotlight: Conan The Barbarian

With his first Marvel Comics appearance in October of 1970, Robert E. Howard's, Conan the Barbarian, hit the newsstands with a landslide success in issue sales. Roy Thomas was chosen to write the adapted short stories of Howard and though he wanted John Buscema to illustrate the feature, British newcomer Barry Smith was picked for the coveted artistic chores. Thomas was true to the source material, which had already made Conan world famous years before, but now coupled with the ornate, art deco-like illustrations of Smith it quickly won a legion of new fans and awards alike. Pleasing page composition and layout, excellent figure drawing, and a delicate use of color helped propel Conan as a best seller, before Smith had a falling out with Marvel over creative differences and left the strip in 1973. Now Buscema was available to draw the barbarian in his own distinctive style, though many morned Smith's departure from the book, dividing fans as to who drew the best version of the character. A second black-and-white dollar magazine debuted in August of 1974 under the title, the Savage Sword of Conan, which could get away with a little more sex and violence from the comic censors. Even today the wild Cimmerian continues his many adventures under different comic publishers.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Foreign Favorites: Mister No

In the spring of 1975, Italian writer Sergio Bonelli using his pseudonym Guido Nolitta, and artist Gallieno Ferri, created the regular monthly series, Mister No, which lasted  three hundred seventy five issues until December 2006, with a handful of special books ending in 2009. Our anti-hero,  Jerome Drake,  served as a soldier in the US Army before relocating to the Brazilian Amazon Forest after  World War II to forgot the horrors of war. Now working as a pilot and tour guide, he fights for peace and justice in the wild territories he calls home along with his German friend Otto Kruger, also known by the natives as Esse-Esse (S-S) from his prior Nazi days. Rounding out our hero's enduring cast of characters are  his airplane mechanic, Augustino,  bartender/owner Paulo Adolfo of the local Catina, and the lovely nightclub singer, Dana Williams. A lover of wine, women, and song,  Drake abhors violence, but  Mister No often has to resort to it to save himself and his companions on his many adventures around the world. Popular all across Europe, it was especially favored in Turkey and the countries of former Yugoslavia where it is still being published today.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Greatest Adventure: Animal-Man

Another in National's line of short-lived and unusual super heroes that debuted in one of their science fiction anthology books was Animal-Man for Strange Adventures #180 in September of 1965. Created by writer Dave Wood and artist Carmine Infantino,  movie stunt man Bernard "Buddy" Baker watched in awe as an weird alien spaceship crashed to Earth close to his home. Investigating the wreckage,  our hero was bathed in a unique radiation which quickly altered his body forever. When animals escaped from a nearby zoo, Buddy Baker discovered that whenever he is close to any animal, he somehow mysteriously absorbed their special abilities. After a few unexpected adventures, Baker decided to fashion himself a costume and called himself Animal-Man or A-man for short. Now whenever in public, Baker uses his special abilities in animal-adapting  to fight crime. Being able to fly like a bird, swim like a fish, this Animal-Man can run as fast as a cheetah or have the strength of ant. Only starring in eleven short stories over the years from his original debut, Animal-Man returned with his own popular series in the eighties to a new audience of fans, and has been reborn once again in a recent DC Comics incarnation.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Darrell McClure...In His Own Words

I was born in California when the century (the current one) was very young. I had a great deal of exposure to the kind of outdoor life available in the West at the time...including trips to the sea as a a seaman aboard the last of the old sailing ships...a vanishing era even then I received my art school training in San Francisco. My first commercial art jobs were in animated cartooning. This had no appeal for me, but it seemed to be the only art opening in my native state, so at nineteen I headed for New York City. To my astonishment, New York was not exactly panting for the superlative talents I was ready to bestow upon the public. Then with the aid of Jimmy Swinnerton, creator of the comic strip, Little Jimmy, I became an apprentice cartoonist with King Features Syndicate. That was in 1923. Jimmy Swinnerton, not the foremost desert painter of America, strongly urged and encouraged me to try my hand at painting as an antidote to constant black and white work. I have now done color work over the years, and it's a pleasant diversion. In 1930 or 1931 I took over the drawing end of the Little Annie Rooney comic strip. At that time it was written by the late Brandon Walsh. Later on, I became the writer as well as the artist, and so it remains today. At the present time, my wife and I divide our time between our home in San Francisco and our boat in Fort Lauderdale. She didn't know what she was in for when she married a rabid yachtsman. Most of her first year of marriage was spent aboard a 38-foot motor sailor, which I owned at the time. In addition to drawing Little Annie Rooney, I also do cartoons and illustrations for Yachting Magazine. The magazine recently published six of my paintings of Bahamian scenes.

I maintain a routine, businessman's five day, nine-to-five work-week...and it's often six days. My assistant backgrounds artist works on the strip two days a week. His name is James March Phillips, and he's a leading water colorist whose work appears in the best art galleries. When I am out of state, I mail the work in for Jim to finish. There is nothing unusual about the long hours required to turn out comic strips, but my habit of working afloat is unusual. Long ago I learned that I could never get far enough ahead in my work to take a decent vacation, so I simply take my work with me. Only occasionally have I found it necessary to tuck the job under my arm and seek a less lively base ashore. The toughest part of my job is when a story runs its course and it's time to come up with a new continuity. I suffer until it starts rolling properly. However, it's not bad to suffer, and I can't complain about any of it because I'm doing exactly what I've wanted to do since I was six years old.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Comic Art Legend: Irv Novick

Starting out at Harry Chester's studio in 1940, Irving Novick first professional work was with Archie Comics drawing The Shield and continuing with the company until he later enlisted in the Army. After the war in 1946, Novick freelanced for DC Comics where he illustrated romance and war titles with his friend and writer Robert Kanigher, as well as working on his syndicated comic strip Cynthia from 1949-1956. Leaving comics for the Johnstone-Cushing advertising agency to become an art director, DC once again came calling, asked Irv to return and providing him with a generous contact, unheard of at that time. The artist got all kinds of perks including a pension, better page rate, the right to work from his home, and the option to continue other freelance work in advertising. Working on the Hasbro G.I. Joe campaign, the artist also drew Silent Knight for National's, Brave and the Bold anthology book and issues of the war title, Captain Storm. When Carmine Infantino took over as editor of DC in 1968, Novick was chosen to work with Julius Schwartz on the Detective Comics and Batman books. After drawing the character at its height of the TV show's Bat-Mania, Novick wanted to get back to Batman's roots with a darker tone and appearance. Lengthening his cowl ears a bit and spotting more blacks on the figures was the result on the first of Batman's continuity changes as in issue #217 for 1969, "One Bullet Too Many". Throughout the 1970s along with Neal Adams and Jim Aparo, Novick illustrated some of the most memorable Caped Crusader stories bringing back some old villains, and introducing new ones for the fans. Never one to miss a deadline, this consummate professional also did a number of Robin back up stories before being picked to draw The Flash as full time penciler from 1970-1979. Novick continued with DC on other series and projects until he retired from comics in 1986, gaining the undying respect of his fellow artists and editors as a true professional.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gold Key Comics...The Three Stooges

In early 1949, Moe Howard encouraged his daughter's husband, Norman Maurer, to create a new Three Stooges comic with friend Joe Kubert for the  St. John publishing company. These early  issues continued off and on till 1954 with some fantastic artwork featured Shemp as the third stooge since Curly had already left the act. Five years later with a new rise in popularity from the Stooges now on syndicated TV kiddie programs around the country encouraged Dell to bring back the beloved characters as part of their "Four Color" series, one "Comc Album" appearance,  and their "Movie  Classics" to promote their current motion pictures. Lovable Curly Joe now graced the numerous photo covers with our wacky trio often in wild slapstick situations. From these guest appearances in Dell/Gold Key's other titles the company decided to give the boys their own book in 1962  that lasted ten years and forty six issues with art by the talented  Pete Alvarado, as shown below. About the same time, K.K. Publications joined forces with Gold Key to produce nine "March of Comics" issues that were sixteen page digest sized comics provided free usually with children's shoe stores as a form of advertisement, and a few later "Top Comics" reprints of the Gold Key series. From the success of the The Three Stooges comics, Gold Key once again ventured into one last series called The Little Stooges illustrated again by Norman Maurer which was  billed as "The Wild, Wacky Sons of the Three Stooges". With only moderate success the comic ended after seven books in the two years published, which also unfortunately ended the Three Stooges zany career with Gold Key.

Friday, September 14, 2012

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Leslie Turner

Born in time to see the last week of the nineteenth Texas. Trained two months in World War I, then the enemy quit. Studied four years at Southern Methodist University and edited the 1922 yearbook. Spent summers touring the United States on the "blinds" of passenger trains, and six weeks at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. While free lancing in Dallas I sold a few gag cartoons to"Judge", married Betherl Burson, and headed for New York City. Did magazine illustration ,including Saturday Evening Post, Red Book, Ladies Home Journal, till 1929...then to Colorado for three years, drawing with one hand and rearing a heard of ungrateful sheep  with the other. Pet hates...sheep, bigots, male singers, and their screeching fans, revivalists. In 1937 I pinch hit for Roy Crane on Wash Tubbs while he frolicked in Europe. Stayed on as assistant till he left for greener pastures, then took over Captain Easy. Wrote and drew strip, and later the Sunday. Have three married daughters. Home in Orlando, Florida...ambition - to hold on till Social Security.

Friday, September 7, 2012

ACG's Two Heroes...Magicman & Nemesis

American Comics Group had been around 23 years doing war, romance, horror, humor, mystery and other titles before it finally decided to publish two superhero books before its demise in August of 1967. Editor Richard Hughes had never cared for the genre, but felt pressure from readers to give it a try with sales slipping and cancellation of books. Sticking with his fantasy and horror roots, he first created Magicman whose debut appearance was in Forbidden Worlds #125 for January 1965, followed one month later in the pages of Adventures Into The Unknown #154 with the ghostly hero called Nemesis. Written by Zev Zimmer, (one of Hughes numerous pseudonyms) and drawn by Pete Costanza, the covers were graced by the slick artwork of Kurt Schaffenberger who was moonlighting from his exclusive contact at DC comics. Editor Mort Weisinger wanted Kurt to work only on his Superman Family titles so his ACG covers were credited to the fictional Kurt Wahl or to Pete Costanza, though Schaffenberger's distinct style was hard to miss. Tom Cargill's alter ego was that on the mysterious Magicman who inherited his strange powers from his 18th century wizard relative named Cagliostro. A Vietnam vet whose old war buddy, Sergeant Kilkenny, became his side kick in civilian life, the two have some wild  adventures for the fifteen short tales over the two year series. The unusual story lines played off of Magicman's many powers including flight, super strength, extra-sensory perception, telekinesis, creating tornadoes and nightmares, changing into animals, and other magical feats. Magicman's villains were an almost exclusive men's club including rogues like Garbageman, Monkeyman, Pigman, Moronman, Pizzaman, Halfaman, Frogman, and the fem fatale, Dragonia.

Interesting enough, the superhero Nemesis shared most of the same villains in his stories. Similar to DC's Spectre and Deadman characters, Nemesis became a superhero after he died. Steve Flint was a crackerjack detective working for the Department of Justice trying to build a case against a mob boss named Goratti. When the gangster found out about the the G-man's plans, he had Flint quickly murdered being hit by a train. Now in the afterlife, waiting to be processed by the Grim Reaper, Flint bargained his way back to life to avenge his murder and after disposing of the mobster, became the permanent "Guardian of the Mortal Realm" taking the name Nemesis. The ghost's super powers included invisibility, flight, super strength, time travel, and to communicate telepathically and change his size at will. A strong light source was his greatest enemy that was used against him many times on his earthly visits. With most of his adventure drawn by artist Chic Stone, Hughes now under the pen name Shane O'Shea, wrote some comic relief as he had Nemesis try to keep up his relationship with his former girlfriend, Lita Revelli Craig, while still being a spectre. Only lasting for fourteen adventures Nemesis's series ran exactly two years ending in February of 1967.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Society of Illustrators Profile: Harold Von Schmidt

An orphan at the age of five, Harold Von Schmidt was raised by this grandfather in California, a "Forty Niner" whose stories of the old West fascinated the youth. As a young man, Von Schmidt worked as a cowhand and lumberjack, subjects that can later be seen in his rustic paintings after his studies at the San Francisco Art Institute and the California College of Arts. He became an art director at Foster & Kleiser doing mainly illustrations for Sunset Magazine. The artist did posters in WWI for the U.S. Navy and became an art-correspondent for the U.S. Air Force and King Features Syndicate during World War II. Studying with artist Harvey Dunn in the mid-twenties, he learned to paint the epic, not the incident, which lead to years of illustrations appearing in virtually all the major magazines filled with drama and action. Some of his best Gold Rush paintings are in the California Governor's office in Sacramento, as five of his classic Civil War scenes grace the walls of our West Point Military Academy. An officer in the American Indian Defense, Von Schmidt also won the the first gold medal awarded in 1968 by the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. Truly an artist's artist, Harold served as President of the Society of Illustrators from 1938 to 1941 and was a founding faculty member of the Famous Artists Schools based out of his home town in Westport, Connecticut.