Obsessions

The Motion-Graphic Ads Of Burma-Shave: 1927-1963

In a simpler time, when automobiles went slower and the pre-Eisenhower highway system in the United States was less developed, there was a popular advertising campaign that ran from 1927 until 1963. It consisted of rhymed messages sequentially staked on the right side of the road, all ending with the advertiser’s name, “Burma-Shave.” These...

Black Dahlia Murder, Part 2: The Victim’s Makeup

Wrapping up my interview with crime historian Joan Renner, we delve deeper into an unsolved murder mystery. Joan explores her theory that the victim’s Black Dahlia persona began when she was still alive. Read part one, with more details of the Dahlia investigation, here. Our conversation picks up with Joan describing her passion for...

Amazing X-Ray Glasses And 9000 Other Novelties – Johnson Smith & Co.

With Chicago’s “C2E2″ 2012 ComicCon (http://www.c2e2.com/) approaching this week from April 13-15 at McCormick Place, it seems fitting that I do a piece on an aspect of comic books that everyone even remotely acquainted with the realm knows well – the Johnson Smith & Company of Detroit, Michigan. You may not recognize the firm’s...

Lucky Strike

I thought I was cured. About a decade ago, I vowed to put a cap on my bottle cap collection, after being injured in the line of duty (an embarrassing story I’ve recounted way past its expiration date, I’m afraid). I was through with mining for small objects, but recently started “pinning” a few...

Black Dahlia Murder: the Crime, the Cosmetics, and the Folksinger

  So I’m at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood to scope this 1933 Stanwyck flick about broads behind bars, but before it starts this dame gets up in front, name Joan Renner. Says her passion is historic crime and vintage cosmetics: sounds to me like a lethal combination. Then she gives the whole audience...

How Walt Disney Used His Kansas City Library Card

When the word “Disney” is mentioned, it’s almost impossible to separate it from the craft of motion picture cartoons. Whether it’s used to describe a multinational entertainment corporation, or it alludes to Walt Disney the man, it’s easily synonymus with the technique of film animation. This was obviously not always the case. In 1920,...

Jessie’s Gang

Jessie Gang is passionate about design—and designers—so much so that she’s hard at work on an ongoing series of  “icons of graphic design” portraits—Jessie’s Gang. Jessie, a graphic and product design major at the School of Visual Arts, admits (with a smile) to papering her walls with creations by some of her favorite artists,...

Joe Shuster’s Artwork for the 1942 Novel The Adventures of Superman

I used to spend a lot of time as a kid visiting antique (actually, “junk”) shops. It was like visiting a museum, except you pick up stuff and hold it. One of the things I found (probably around 1972) was a book by author George Lowther from 1942 about Superman. I’d never heard about...

Affordable Love

Gallerist Jen Bekman’s affordable art site, 20×200, offers a selection of smart, well-curated photographs and prints, as evidenced by these Steve Lambert pieces. There are a variety of love-themed options (as well as a slew of other subjects), should you be on the Valentine’s Day gift hunt or just because.   Resources Recommended by...