Monday, February 6, 2012

Art - What I'm Doing (and Adventure Magazine)

I mentioned that I was doodling out an "illustrated cap." I was just talking about the letter part of this illustration you see at left. (Or is that to the right? I never can keep them straight... Left!) I did the background just fiddling with layers and brushes and cycling colors. I have fun with that "grass" brush, I have to admit.

I didn't do this for any reason other than that I want to start playing with hand drawn letter forms, because fonts don't always do what you like with every letter. I've come across a few times when I had a look I wanted except that the capital C was weird, and since my name starts with C, that sinks the font for my cover design.

I'm possibly thinking of doing my name as a logo.

In the meantime, "A" stands for Adventure Magazine. I came across a few issues of Adventure on The three issues in question were from 1921, 1935 and 1949 (though the last was mislabeled as 1945). As the title suggests, Adventure was a pulp magazine of men's adventure stories (before "Men's Adventure" became code for "soft porn" -- although there were plenty of those at the time too). The stories were often sea adventures with pirates, but they were also westerns, or hard-boiled detective, or even knights and broadswords tales. I think I saw one spy/war story.

Many of these types of magazines were illustrated, some just had illustrations at the start of each story, some no internal illustrations at all -- just a cover, and ads. Adventure had illustrations for most stories, and something extra: Dingbats!

At the start of every section break in a chapter (but not the chapter headings themselves) they had a little illustration set into the corner of the type like an illustrated capital. Not very big at all. Maybe three quarters of an inch square.

In the three issues I saw, only a few of these dingbats were reused, but I suspect that most of them saw use in multiple stories and issues. For those of you who don't know why clip art is called "clip" art, the reason was because you might have a book or sheets of these kinds of things, and you'd clip them out and literally paste them in with paste when you did your layout.

If you look at the globe in the selection above, you can see that the shadows made by the cut edge has made it into the image itself. (They are too thick for that to have been a first generation of those cut lines. Likely those lines were very fine at first, but got reproduced and reproduced.)

I don't know what attracts me to these sorts of little images, but I adore little illustrations which enhance the book without really being quite illustrations. Many magazines and books used to have chapter headers which were partly decorative and partly illustration too. And I keep thinking about how these kinds of simple black and white drawings could look really spiffy on an ereader -- even a monochrome Kindle.

So doing something like these may become one of my drawing day projects.

I'll sign off with a word about is a clearing house or aggregator for libraries and archives and sites like Project Gutenberg, where they make all sorts of public domain media available -- from video and audio clips, to old magazines. They are really raw, though. Unlike Gutenberg, which has volunteers constantly working on proofing and upgrading the files, I swear that most of the magazines I find on are raw scans which have been automatically OCRed and processed into ebook form without correction. So I usually download the whole set of raw scans to do my reading from those. It is MUCH easier to read them that way.

See you in the funny papers.


Tracy McCusker said...

Oh that is a lovely illustrated cap indeed! It looks like the creeping vines of a strangely trellised A. Thank you for sharing! :D

Those are very fetching dingbats, I must say. The letterpress / offset printing gives them a rough quality that computerized ones lack. I think the treasure chest is my favorite.

The Daring Novelist said...

You can still go for that letterpress look, too. Both by hand and by filter. (Or a combo.)

That treasure chest appears a lot in these dingbats. I've got to compare some to see whether they adapted the same one, or if they just did similar drawings -- but there are some without the background which look very close.