Obsessions

Winsor McCay Illustrates Temperance — or Prohibition?, 1929

While strolling through a used-books store in Los Angeles over 20 years ago, I spied the dust-jacketed binding of a book with a familiar illustration style. Much to my delight, I’d found a little-known 1929 first edition volume published by the Hearst Company concerning Prohibition—and primarily illustrated by the brilliant comic-strip artist and animation...

Watty Piper's 1930 “The Little Engine That Could”

When I was a very young child (circa 1960), one of the first books I was given was a 1930 edition of Watty Piper’s The Little Engine That Could. I’ve loved trains since I was a kid and I’m convinced this little tome was an early contribution to what’s become an obsession. It would...

“Writers I Have Loved”—The Graphic Reflections Of Joshua Landsman

I’ve known Joshua Landsman for over 45 years. We went to the same junior-high/high school in Evanston, lllinois, and even worked on our school newsletter together. I was always in awe of his writing talent—and sense of humor. He’s since written screenplays and one-act plays—his “Frank Talk About Matters Big And Small” played at...

Fight Talk: A WWII Poster Campaign

The Second World War saw the participation of countless corporations steering and converting their talents and resources toward the war effort. At the end of the war, many of these corporations took advantage of their contributions to produce promotional pieces that highlighted their involvement. For instance, the Chrysler Corporation published a four-volume set of...

Litho-Mania: Marketing with Lithography, Circa 1939

My last post concerned the photoengraving industry of the pre-Depression period. This week it’s pre-WWII lithography! Litho Media: A Demonstration of the Selling Power of Lithography, published in 1939 by Roger Stephens and edited by H. Homer Buckelmueller and Colin Campbell, is a 206-page, 12-by-15-inch slipcased bible produced to help publicize the successful and...

The Bottle's the Thing: The Branding Evolution of Soda Pop

My fascination with brand design started with the soda-pop realm. I’d always loved leafing through old magazines and usually paid more attention to the advertising in them than the articles. Because my father had a collection of Life magazines beginning with the first issue in 1936 and continuing through the World War II years,...

Clutter My World

I wish I’d come up with “Clutter My World,” but I stole the line from Laura Levine. That Laura is one smartypants—rock photographer, illustrator, filmmaker, and owner of the business I’d most like to work for—Homer and Langley’s Mystery Spot, in Phoenicia, New York. The seven-room shop is named for Homer and Langley Collyer—brothers who...

A Fanzine Editor's 60-Year Love Affair with 1950s Comics

There’s this comic-book story about space aliens who try to save our planet from self-annihilation. But they arrive too late: We’d already destroyed ourselves in an atomic war. They land their rocket ship on a chunk of a devastated earth and discover a science-fiction comic book amid the rubble. It contains a story about...

Vintage Orange Crush Soda Bottles Take a Ribbing

I grew up drinking Orange Crush and hearing my mom tell stories of how it used to come in brown bottles, supposedly to protect the flavor. But by the time I was a kid, those days were long gone, and Crush’s bottles were clear. I was also aware that Orange Crush was made in...