Monday, October 17, 2011

Three commercial artists

When I attended my British-style (age 8 to 13) prep school, one of my fellow students, about a year younger than I, was "Gilroy". We knew each other by our last names, and I have no recall of his first name, any more than I have of his father, but the latter was at the height of his fame. This arose primarily from his ads for Guinness, the famous brand of Stout. These featured the Toucan, which didn't seem to have much relationship to the product. They mentioned (suggestively, but I was too young to understand) "You know what Toucan do".

The Bateman family lived in Reigate, as we did, but I hardly knew H.M. Bateman, the famous cartoonist. I knew his two daughters, Diana and Monica, from attending parties when we were young. At the age of seventeen, I thought it was time for me to have a "girlfriend". In those innocent days, this was more of a "pen pal" relationship than anything else. I do remember that Monica was visiting with us, and accompanied my mother to Devonport, to say goodbye to me when I left for a tour of duty in the Far East.

Perhaps the most famous of the many cartoons that H.M. Bateman contributed to Punch and other magazines was the one which showed a jubilant member of Lloyd's chortling, while everyone else was looking gloomy. The caption read The Underwriter who missed the Total Loss.

The third famous commercial artist is our neighbor, Ralph McQuarrie, whose chief claim to fame is his work for George Lucas, especially in creating many of the characters in Star Wars. Ralph kindly gave us an original painting, showing a beautiful dying flower. Alas, Ralph has been suffering from Parkinson's disease for some time now, and can no longer exercise his artistry. Nevertheless, I think that his work on such characters as R2D2 will live on for many years.

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