Thursday, 6 October 2011

Pen and Ink Venus by Alex Raymond

 Enchantment (1950) by Alex Raymond

We have decided to focus on ladies's rears for the next few posts following our short piece on Leone Frollo.  First up we have this elegant nude by Alex Raymond (1909-1956).  This particular piece was done as the cover for the National Cartonnists Society programme although was not, in fact, used for that purpose.  Agent Triple P is most happy working in pen and ink himself and so is full of admiration for the craftsmanship that this drawing demonstrates in such an unforgiving medium.  There is no room for error in pen and ink line work!

 Figure drawing demonstration (1943)

Raymond, who showed a talent for drawing from a very young age, enrolled at the Grand Central School of Art in New York whilst working in a mortgage broker's office. He soon left this job and found his way to King Features Syndicate as a staff artist. .  Three years after starting work there he was asked to come up with a comic strip to compete with National Newspapers Syndicate's Buck Rogers, which had first appeared in 1929.  The strip debuted in January 1934 and Raymond continued to illustrate it until 1944 when he joined the US Marines.

Dale Arden from Flash Gordon

The standard of Raymond's illustration was extraordinary and he excelled at the sinuous depiction of his female protaganists, particularly heroine Dale Arden.  Later in the run he increased the size of the panels and took out the speech boxes to give himself more room for his illustrations.

 Raymond drawing a model for Rip Kirby

After the end of World War 2 Raymond developed his police themed strip Rip Kirby which he managed to get a profit share in.

 More female loveliness from Rip Kirby

Sadly, Raymond died at the age of just 46 when a car he was driving hit a tree in Connecticut.  It was his fourth road accident in a very short time which led to some suggesting that his death was suicide (he was having marital problems) although this has never been proved.

His influence on comic strip artists and his wider influence on popular culture (George Lucas has acknowledged Flash Gordon as an influence on Star Wars) remains high to this day.

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