Illustrated Aviation Books By Assen Jordanoff

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.

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The dustjacket of “Your Wings” 1936 illustrated by Frank L. Carlson.

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The boards of “Your Wings” also displaying a Frank Carlson illustration.

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Dustjacket of “Through The Overcast” 1938 by Carlson.

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Embossed cover board with silver type/drawing by Carlson.

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“Safety In Flight” 1942 dustjacket with design by Fred L. Meagher.

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“Safety In Flight” boards with design also by Meagher.

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Dustjacket by Frank Carlson.

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Graphically simple boards from “The Man Behind The Flight”.

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Back cover to “Your Wings” – and yes, “Indorsed” is used properly here.

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Back cover to “Safety In Flight”.

The following 12 images are from “Your Wings”

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Illustration: Fred Meagher.

A nice sequential 5 panel series of drawings by Fred Meagher showing how to parachute from a plane.

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A Fred Meagher illustration which undoubtedly inspired the later cover of 1942′s “Safety In Flight”.

Drawings for a 2 page spread by Fred Meagher.

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The following images are from “Through The Overcast” 1938.

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Illustration: Frank Carlson.

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Illustration: Fred Meagher.

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Illustration: Frank Carlson.

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Illustration: Frank Carlson.

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Illustration: Frank Carlson.

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Illustrations: Frank Carlson.

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Illustration: Fred Meagher.

The following images are from “Safety In Flight” 1942.

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Illustration: Fred Meagher.

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Illustration: Fred Meagher.

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Illustration: Fred Meagher.

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Illustration: Fred Meagher.

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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.

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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.

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1936

3 meagher

1940

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1940

4 meagher

1950

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.

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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 ?

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(gimme a break. . .)

3 thoughts on “Illustrated Aviation Books By Assen Jordanoff

  1. Patrick

    If it was your goal was to make me jealous of your vintage aviation book collection, then you have succeeded admirably, sir.

    Fantastic post, as always. Thank you!

  2. Don Carter

    Similar story. My grandfather had a cabinet of books that I would always go to. One of them was “FLYING and HOW TO DO IT” by Assen Jordanoff (think he got teased as a kid?) with drawings by Larry Whittington published in 1932 reprinted in 1940. I have no idea why he had it. He was in WWI but was not a pilot. Anyways, it was the comic style illustrations that attracted me. And I too inherited the book. I still have it…in excellent condition, but unfortunately the dust jacket fell off long ago.

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