Friday, March 21, 2008

Speedball Booklet circa 1956

Above: Ross F. George reminding us that when you use Speedball it's "posture, posture, posture" that makes all the difference.

Here are some scans from a 1956 Speedball pen booklet from the files of my dear ol' Dad. He probably gave me this when I was first struggling with pen and ink at the age of 9 or 10. Copyright is most likely with the Hunt/Speedball people. The front cover is missing, and the indicia along with it.

I had a lot of these nibs when I was kid and tried my best at inking and lettering.

I am in awe of cartoonists like Guy Gilchrist and Orlando Busino who not only are natural born great cartoonists, but are master letterers too. Look at all the knowledge you have to store in your noggin!

So, most of the book is like the above: examples of different lettering styles with a little cartoon stylus moving around, showing you how the letters are created. Page after page of this!

Above: some cool price ticket signs. As the book progresses, the imagery gets a lot more interesting.

Above: Charles Stoner gives us this great inky nature drawing. The text is correct: if you want to master your pen, then draw without penciling first.

More on Mr. Stoner:

"After working for various agencies in Philadelphia, Mr. Stoner joined Hunt Pen Co, (later Hunt Manufacturing Co.) in 1935 as advertising director, retiring in 1971. While at Hunt he wrote two books, 'Pen Tips on Cartooning' in 1939 and 'Beautiful Italic Handwriting Made Easy' in 1977. He also edited the Speedball Textbook from 1935 on. In 1968, he won a National Packaging Award for Hunt products for artists."

The above is from The Record Herald (Waynesboro, PA) obituary for Mr. Stoner who passed away this month, on March 9, 2008. There will be a public service in April. I didn't know about any of this until I began Googling his this morning! My condolences to the Stoner family. What an amazing artist!

Above: 3 pages of stick figure motion cartoons. Whoever drew this sure looked like he had a fun time doing it. These would be ideal to show kids who want to learn to cartoon.

And here is a color section showing examples of "progressive steps in making a poster for screen process reproduction."

I liked these little mini-posters and wonder if they were real or just created for the book.

I picked this Speedball book up out of a stack of stuff the other day and wondered why I had kept it for so long. I haven't looked at it for years. After paging through it, I could see why! Lots of great illustrations and a glimpse back at some skills that are going by the wayside.

Big hat tip to Dad for today's blog entry! Thanks, Dad!


Brian Fies said...

Terrific, wide-ranging book! I've done some color separations like that, back when I worked at a newspaper 863 years ago.

Those three pages of stick figures resemble the work of our friend Arnold Wagner. I ain't sayin' they are... they just remind me of him, which is a good thing.

David King said...

This is a great little booklet. I got an earlier version off ebay a couple months ago. I put the cover on my blog.

Mine doesn't have those great color pages, though. I spotted another copy on ebay last month with an even cooler cover; a friend of mine ended up buying it

Jack Ruttan said...

Gosh, I had speedballs as a kid, at home and at school. Those and rapidographs were so frustrating, mainly because they weren't kept too clean. Also bought a Windsor and Newton #10 because a how to draw comics book told me I should. Caked it up pretty quick.

I learned to draw with a brush because I got a sweat-shoppy job retouching photos for a portrait studio, in the days (practically months) before computers. Always doodled on the blotter, and discovered how to point the brush, etc.

Nowadays, I enjoy my Hunt #102 dip nib, but also still like felt pens and ball points.

Mark Anderson said...

I tried pen and ink like that when I was starting out and trying to find how I worked best.

The experience gives me untold respect for guys that can do that well.

I might as well have drawn with a live chicken.

Jack Ruttan said...

Not an easy thing to learn. A little like trying to scratch out "flight of the bumblebee" on a violin by yourself.

I remember dipping one of those nibs into the Higgins ink past the shank, and then getting some nasty blots on the typing paper.

Would have been good to have had a very patient mentor. Of course the people who really want to do it, stick with it. But I'm still not comfy with speedballs.

richardcthompson said...

I have a later edition of that booklet, from maybe the early 70s. It's not as nice as the one you've shown, though some of it's the same. No mention of posture anywhere in it. If only I'd known, alas. Now I've got the posture of a rubber band.

Marek Bennett said...

YES, those stick figure comics would be great for teaching! I've found stick figures work well for collaborative storytelling, since you can swap characters so easily. They really get the ideas flowing, and slowly other art styles emerge from the simplistic beginnings.

I like the "draw without pencilling" advice. "Riding the whirlwind", as they called it in "Lawrence of Arabia"!

Mike Lynch said...

Mike's confession: I had this on a "to put on blog" pile of papers, books and magazine for a long while. When I finally grabbed the Speedball book and was choosing what pages to scan, I was really amazed at all the knowledge and cool graphics in this little tome.

Again: thanks, Dad!