As a kid, whenever I’d visit my Grandmother’s house in Columbus, OH, I’d make a beeline to her bookshelf. It consisted of books on public health and education (she worked with the Ohio State Department of Health), as well as books my Dad had gotten as a kid. Books like original Edgar Rice Burroughs “Tarzan” editions, “Air Power: Key To Survival” by Major Alexander P. de Seversky, and a book called “Safety In Flight” by the Bulgarian aviator Assen Jordanoff (1896-1967).
I loved looking through the Jordanoff book because it was filled with cartoon illustrations and the dustjacket had a terrific drawing of a fleet of airplanes dramatically flying through the sky. When my Grandmother passed away, I inherited the two WWII era books on airplanes. As I leafed through the Jordanoff book I realized that this was one of a series he’d written, so I set out to see if I could get my hands on at least some of the others—of which I eventually discovered there were a total of 8. Gradually I was able to acquire 3 more: “Your Wings” 1936, “Through The Overcast” 1938, (“Safety In Flight” was first published in 1942) and another 1942 printing, “The Man Behind The Flight.”
It turned out that all of them had really attractive covers illustrated by artists Fred L. Meagher and Frank L. Carlson—the same illustrators credited with the cartoons within the books themselves. For a kid interested in comicbooks, this was a treat! It was only later that I got to appreciate the graphic design aspects in their use of type, layout and color.
The following 12 images are from “Your Wings”
A nice sequential 5 panel series of drawings by Fred Meagher showing how to parachute from a plane.
Drawings for a 2 page spread by Fred Meagher.
The following images are from “Through The Overcast” 1938.
The following images are from “Safety In Flight” 1942.
The following images are from “The Man Behind The Flight”. This volume was contains technical info and data concerning the drafting and design of aircraft. It’s also the only edition of the 4 Jordanoff books without illustrations credited to Carlson and/or Meagher. The drawings are a bit crude and without the consistency of the other 3 books. I’m not able to identify the artist.
When it comes to the illustrators/cartoonists Frank L. Carlson and Fred L. Meagher, I was able to find some info on Meagher, but only meager info on Carlson (sorry, couldn’t pass that one up. . .)
Fred Lawrence Meagher (1912-1976) started his illustration career working for Hershey Publications’ pulp series “Dan Dunn Detective Magazine” and “Tailspin Tommy Air Adventures.” In addition to beginning his work with the Jordanoff books in 1935, he later contributed to “Tom MIx Comics” starting in 1941. He’s probably best known for doing the “Straight Arrow” series for ME Comics starting in 1949 and later moving to “Durango Kid.” Meagher did the “Broncho Bill”‘ character for United Features Syndicate which had soon evolved into “Buffalo Bill” by 1955. When ME Comics closed in 1956, Meagher ceased his comic work and transitioned into industrial design at American Can Company.
As mentioned before, information about and additional work by Frank L. Carlson is scarce. The only examples I was able to turn up are graciously made available through the “Collection of Richard Sheaff” (http://www.sheaff-ephemera.com/) They’re two fun illustrated envelopes from 1945 that Carlson evidently posted to his wife back home in Iowa.
Finally, to those of you wondering about Alexander de Seversky’s “Air Power: Key To Survival,” and whether I happened to track down its well known predecessor “Victory Through Air Power”. . . Really, a book made into a film by the Walt Disney Studio NOT in the library of J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, Inc.? Really ?