Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Carl Fallberg



Cartoonist, writer, and railroad enthusiast Carl Fallberg (1915-1996) and his book Fiddletown & Copperopolis (River Forest, IL: Heimburger House Publishing Co., 1985), collecting his cartoons from Railroad magazine. I know the book-jacket biography of Fallberg is hard to read here, but give it a try.

Text copyright 2031 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Simon Greco



Simon Greco was born on April 9, 1917, in Italy to an Italian-American father and an Italian mother. Greco arrived in the United States near the end of 1921. The passenger manifest for his ship (propitiously named S.S. Providence) gave his birthplace as "Spesano." I suspect that he came from Spezzano, located in the southern part of the country. The Greco family settled in St. Louis where his father, Giuseppe Greco, worked for a gas company. Greco's mother was named Maria. By the 1940s, Simon Greco had relocated to New York and Connecticut, haven for artists. He was married to Eleen Williams (1920-2008).

You can read the high points of Simon Greco's life in the book jacket biography I have posted here. It's from a  large paperbound book called The Art of Perspective Drawing, published by M. Grumbacher, Inc., in 1968. Grumbacher put out a lot of really fine instruction books in art, but this one is especially good. The highlights of course are Mr. Greco's illustrations. He was an artist hard to categorize, but that makes him that much more interesting. His work is partly realistic, almost in a photographic way. (He painted a number of trompe l'oeil pictures.) He can also be considered a surrealist and a magical realist in a style that was very common at mid-century, especially in advertising and other commercial art. Simon Greco also painted covers for magazines, including men's magazines of the 1950s and '60s.

Simon Greco was an extraordinary artist. His work is mesmerizing. Fortunately for us, he lived a long life. He died on January 20, 2005, in Westborough, Massachusetts, at age eighty-seven.

Text copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, June 15, 2013

F.O. Alexander



Here is an unusual book called Joe Doakes' Great Quest, written and drawn by F.O. Alexander and published in his retirement. Franklin Osborne Alexander was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 3, 1897. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and Northwestern University. During World War I, Alexander served with the Camouflage Engineers in Europe. (I think that outfit was more properly called the American Camouflage Corps.) In so doing he would have followed a path laid down by another artist, Abbott Thayer (1849-1921).

Alexander drew three newspaper comic strips between 1925 and 1939, the most well known of which was the cliffhanger Hairbreadth Harry. In 1941, he signed on with the Philadelphia Bulletin and enjoyed a second career as an editorial cartoonist. F.O. Alexander retired in 1967. The following year, John Knox Press of Richmond, Virginia, published his book Joe Doakes' Great Quest, a cartoon odyssey in which the title character tries to discover his purpose in life. The model is Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, but it looks like a sequential editorial cartoon. I suppose you could make something of a connection between editorial cartooning and literary allegory.

F.O. Alexander died on January 17, 1993, in Philadelphia at age ninety-five. His papers are at Syracuse University.

The cover design of Joe Doakes' Great Quest is by Doyle Robinson. The photo of the author is by William Conn.

Text copyright 2013 by Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Terence Barrow and Ray Lanterman



Terence Barrow (ca. 1932-2001) and Ray Lanterman (1916-1994) co-authored two books, Incredible Hawaii (1974) and More Incredible Hawaii (1986). Both men were residents of Hawaii. The Hoosier Lanterman had been present at the attack on Pearl Harbor and lived in Hawaii from the 1940s onward. Barrow, a native New Zealander, came to Hawaii in 1964 and worked there as a museum curator, author, and representative for Charles E. Tuttle Publishing Company. Their books are compilations of Hawaiian folklore and history. Lanterman's illustrations are reminiscent of those in the newspaper comic feature Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Terence Barrow died on August 31, 2010, at age seventy-eight. His obituary appeared in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on September 10, 2001, the day before disaster struck. You can read more about Ray Lanterman on my blog, Indiana Illustrators.

Text copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Miriam Gilbert and Sidnee Neale



Glory Be! The Career of a Young Hair Stylist (New York: Hastings House, Publishers, 1967) is a novel for young people written by Miriam Gilbert, aka Mrs. Abe Presburg. The book jacket bio here is the sum total of what I know about her. The illustrator, Sidnee Neale, was born on May 16, 1904, in Baltimore, Maryland. She was a muralist and an illustrator, and she worked in collage and mixed media. Sidnee died in California in October 1977.

Text copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, February 1, 2013

A.E. Hotchner




We have heard this week about the anniversary of the beginning of a dictatorship. It's better to hear about one's ending. That ending--rather the ending of the dictator himself--is the background of A.E. Hotchner's novel Treasure, from 1970. Treasure is set in Italy twenty years after the war has ended. The protagonist it turns out is something of an autobiographical character. Treasure is a sort of hybrid--part caper novel, part murder mystery, part thriller, and part serious novel. It even approaches weird fiction or pulp fiction in its conclusion. The novel came at the end of a decade when men's magazines were king and near the end of what I have heard called "The Golden Age of Heterosexuality." It fits in with both.

A.E. Hotchner was born on June 28, 1920, in St. Louis, Missouri. He chronicled his youth in an autobiographical novel called King of the Hill (1973). That book was adapted to a very enjoyable movie by Steven Soderbergh in 1993. Mr. Hotchner is still with us and even has a book published this year. He has written plays, biographies, novels, and memoirs. Mr. Hotchner was also friends with Ernest Hemingway (the subject of Papa Hemingway, a book by Hotchner from 1966) and Paul Newman (the subject of Paul and Me: 53 Years of Adventures and Misadventures with My Pal Paul Newman, from 2010). Hotchner's friendship with Paul Newman brings up a very strange coincidence for my posting today. In my research, I came upon this image from 1970:


That's Paul Newman clowning around after having caught a marlin somewhere in the Caribbean. This image evokes nothing so much as that of Mussolini and his lover, Claretta Petacci, strung up by their heels in Milano at the end of war--the background of the book Treasure.

The cover of Treasure is classic 1970s design: a wraparound photo cover missing only the figure of a woman. The designer is uncredited. The photograph of Mr. Hotchner on the inside of the back cover is by Jack Mitchell.

Text copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, January 25, 2013

John Gould



Here's a book jacket biography of another Maine author, John Thomas Gould, who wrote more than two dozen books and for sixty years a column for The Christian Science Monitor. Born on October 22, 1908, in Brighton, Massachusetts, Gould called Maine home. He edited and published the Lisbon Enterprise, a weekly newspaper in Lisbon Falls, Maine. That's where he met and mentored a young Stephen King. Gould, who seems to me to have been an irreplaceable man, died on September 1, 2003, at the age of ninety-four.

The book by the way is (take a deep breath) The Jonesport Raffle and numerous other Maine veracities researched and methodically arranged by that pleasant humorist-philosopher with a considerable local reputation, as well as a profound sense of scholastic nicety, published by Little, Brown and Company in 1969, and with a jacket design and illustrations by Edward Malsberg.

Original text copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mary Francis Shura



Many, many years ago, one of my college English instructors remarked, "As you may know, I was married to a well-known writer . . . ." I never asked him who that writer was. I believe I was supposed to know and may have felt embarrassed that I didn't. In any case, I have wondered over the years who she was, but I have never gone looking for the answer. Instead the answer found me when I found the book Shoefull of Shamrock (originally published in 1965) and decided to show it on my blog.

Mary Francis Shura was born Mary Francis Young on February 23, 1923, in Pratt, Kansas. She studied at Maryville State College in Maryville, Missouri, and in 1943 married Daniel Charles Shura. Shura passed away in 1959. His widow's writing career must have begun at about that time, for her first book, Simple Spigott, was published in 1960. Dozens more books under a bewildering array of pen names followed over the next three decades. None of those names was a pseudonym. On the contrary, they were all combinations of her own name, her initials, and her married names. By the way, Mary's second husband, Raymond C. Craig, whom she married in 1961 and later divorced, was my instructor. A native of Joplin, Missouri, and an army veteran, Dr. Craig worked in publishing before becoming a teacher. Knowledgeable, easygoing, jocular, he was a fine teacher and one of my favorites. When I  knew him, Dr. Craig was working on a project on the humorist Hardin E. Taliaferro (1811-1875). He kept his research bound in string in the top drawer of his desk. I got the impression that it was a project that might never see print, but in 1987, the University of Tennessee Press issued Dr. Craig's book, The Humor of H.E. Taliaferro.

Mary Francis Shura died on January 12, 1991, in Maywood, Illinois. You'll find more on her in the Third Book of Junior Authors. In addition, her obituary appeared in the New York Times on January 15, 1991. Wikipedia has an entry on her, but information on Wikipedia should always be taken with a grain of salt. Finally, Mary's papers are located at the University of Oregon Libraries.

Cover illustration by Cathy Pavia
Text copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley