Gone to the Dogs with Jon Whitcomb

Jon Whitcomb was known for his pictures of ideal, glamorous women in fiction illustrations and advertising during the mid-20th century.  It turns out that some of these glamorous women also had glamorous dogs. In honor of National Dog Day (which was this past Monday), Modern Graphic History Library takes a look at Jon Whitcomb’s canine creations.

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Woman and her sheepdog December 23, 1939

After graduating from Ohio State, Whitcomb did illustration work in general advertising and poster art.  It wasn’t until he moved to New York in 1934 that his career began to take off.  His first major  assignments were illustrating for Collier’s, including covers featuring head shots of extremely glamorous women.

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Fiction illustration for unknown story, date unknown.

Soon after, he received assignments from Good Housekeeping.  Eventually, he was working for all the major national women’s magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Ladies Home Journal, and McCalls.

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Fiction illustration for Ladies Home Journal, February 1953.

Whitcomb also had several large advertising accounts including Cadillac in the late 1930s and Community Plate Silverware in the 1940s.  His career was interrupted during World War II, when he was commissioned as a Lieutenant, and would eventually end up writing and illustrating articles about the troops.

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The opening image and paragraph of Pom-Pom’s Christmas, December 1951, McCalls.

His writing career continued after the war, when Cosmopolitian asked him to write articles about movie stars which included his sketches.  He also wrote and illustrated children’s books about dogs.  While his canine fiction illustrations were focused on spaniels, his children’s books were about toy poodles: Pom-Pom and Coco.

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The second image and paragraph from Pom-Pom’s Christmas, December 1951, McCalls.

Pom-Pom’s Christmas appeared in McCall’s in December 1951 and tells the story of a poodle who can’t find a home with a family in time for Christmas.  Coco The Far-Out Poodle, was published in 1963 by Random House.

For any cat-lovers out there…yes, Whitcomb did draw cats as well as dogs.  But since National Cat Day isn’t until October, you will have a few months to wait.

For more information about Jon Whitcomb, check out the Finding Aid.

About the author

Andrea Degener is the Visual Materials Processing Archivist in the department of Special Collections at Washington University Libraries.