Dowd Modern Graphic History Library

Politically Correct Romance?

By l.sylvander on February 13, 2017

Our romantic and sexual practices are some of the most heavily policed aspects of our social lives (shoutout to Foucault for totally shifting my understanding of social interaction forever). We remember 1950’s America as a socially conservative time, and what better way to control the urges...

Al Parker at Washington University

By Maria Dorfman on January 16, 2017

Al Parker (1906-1985) was one of the most famous magazine illustrators of his age. He was also an alumnus of Washington University. It is hard now to imagine what the University was like in the 1920’s- almost a century ago. Parker writes: At that time there were no credits, degrees or a gra...

Advertising the 19th Century Detachable Collar

By Maria Dorfman on January 3, 2017

A distinguishing characteristic of menswear in the ~1860’s-1920’s was the detachable collar. Collars were naturally more susceptible to dirt and deformation that the rest of the shirt. Detachable collars allowed men to achieve the appearance of neatness and cleanliness, while reducing...

A Very Esquire Christmas

By Andrea Degener on December 23, 2016

Esquire Magazine’s Christmas issue, published in December 1943, contains a wide variety of articles (everything from political to camp) interspersed with foldout pinups by Vargas in addition to numerous photography pieces and advertisements. One of the political pieces in this issue are the...

The Madcap Master Poet of the Improbable

By Maria Dorfman on December 15, 2016

“Madcap master poet of the improbable” was a phrase used by Pat Calhoun to describe the illustrator George Carlson (1887-1962). The words “madcap” and “improbable” refer to Carlson’s frequently nonsensical comic plot lines and illustrations for the Jingle...

Al Parker: Celebrity Illustrator

By Maria Dorfman on December 6, 2016

“I could praise the work for pages, but it might sound like a love letter.” J.W. Jemmings, letter to Al Parker, July 24, 1939. Imagine a magazine illustrator getting fan mail. Al Parker (1906-1985) was once one of the leading magazine illustrators in America. Born in St. Louis, Missou...

Between the Lines: The Illustrations of Frederic Varady

By Andrea Degener on December 1, 2016

Frederic Varady (1908-2002) had a distinctive style later in his career. When browsing through the Varady tear sheets in the Walt Reed Illustration Archive, it was intersting to see how his style evolved throughout his career. His illustrations from the 1940s appear to be the typical two-color il...

Norman Rockwell and Race: Complicating Rockwell’s Legacy

By a.jegede on November 22, 2016

If you were to ask someone today what they think of when they hear “Norman Rockwell”, their answer will most likely involve simplicity, sentimentality, and “traditional” American values. They might even mention his highly famous “Thanksgiving picture” (more formally known as “Fr...

Social Advocacy and Civic Engagement in Punk Zines

By l.sylvander on November 17, 2016

Zines in the 1980’s were a pre-internet social media space—the underground music scenes of cities across the United States screamed off the mis-matched, collaged pages of these zines (or informal magazines). The Karl S. Kalthenthaler Collection at the Dowd Modern Graphic History Library fea...

Political Cartoons of 1908 and 1912

By Maria Dorfman on November 7, 2016

With the 2016 presidential election so rapidly approaching, it seems only fitting to look back at past elections for insight and perspective. The political cartoons of the 1908 and 1912 presidential campaigns are particularly illuminating, as they so clearly depict the same shifting balances of p...