Friday, September 30, 2011

Gluyas Williams

Above: a Gluyas Williams dustjacket cover for a Robert Benchley book.

Had a great chat with illustrator Sandy Kossin about Gluyas Williams.

Sandy had brought in some prints of Williams' work to a Berndt Toast lunch. Gluyas Williams was a distinctive illustrator and cartoonist whose clean line work appeared in the old Life Magazine (back when Life had cartoons in it) and the New Yorker. His illustrations were mainstays in advertising. He was a syndicated cartoonist. If you have an old volume by Edward Streeter or Robert Benchley, chances are his drawings are salted in there like a Big Little Book -- practically every other page. Ditto an old New Yorker cartoon collection. (Look for "The Day a Cake of Soap Sank at Procter & Gamble's" and the trapeze artist cartoon.) His work was everywhere.

So, back to me and Sandy: we were staring at this grand crowd scene. Sandy noted that every single one of those people was an individual. I stared at it. The drawing was of what looked like several hundred people on a Coney Island beach. The vista stretched back to the boardwalk. I leaned in to the drawing, looking at all of the people in the background. I took off my glasses. I'm near-sighted. I see better up close. Sure enough. Sandy was right. Everybody was a specific character.

Here's a small scan of the work, titled "Coney Island:"

Going beyond the simplicity of his line style, his people are full of personality. Williams' ink line gives us form and movement. I loved looking at that scene and I thought I would share more today.

I was going to scan in more of Williams' work, but there's already a great site devoted to him. 

And that's where I nicked most of these great scans. Please stop by to browse more.

1 comment:

James Langdell said...

That crowd scene is amazing. A friend gave me a copy of the Playboy Penguin book a few years ago. That children's book came out long before Mr. Hefner pinned a solid definition on that term.