Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sunday funnies

The Newspaper Archive offers a massive online database of regional papers. It claims to have archived 895 million articles published in 747 cities over 240 years. In case you've run out of things to read on the web, here's a bottomless library.

I bought a ten-day pass to search for Jim Flora illustrations. Easy, right? Well, yes and no. NA's search engine uses OCR to find word strings in old newsprint that's been erratically scanned. It finds lots of "James Flora," but because there's no text correction, it probably misses the odd "Jannes Fiona" and "James F;ora." An imperfect process, but useful nonetheless. Aside from occasional local filler about Flora receiving an award or addressing a luncheon, most of the hits for our JF cited Sundays in the late 1950s and early 1960s. These turned out to be spot (and occasional feature) illustrations for weekly Parade Magazine supplements, which ran in hundreds of newspapers coast-to-coast. Parade seems to have been a meal ticket for Flora -- his illos often ran twice a month. We recognized some of the images because dozens of original mechanicals and tearsheets were retained by the artist and remain in the family archive. Newsprint does not store well, and because of the ephemeral nature of newspapers, existing copies in any condition are difficult to locate.

The tone of the Parade work is tame -- this is Flora during his transition from jazz hellcat to avuncular cartoonist. The change is reflected in all Flora's commercial work from the period, during which he was developing a new career as a children's book author/illustrator. His fine art from the 1960s retains an edge, but his public work appears to be laying the foundation for Bil Keane's Family Circus.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sunday Morning print on eBay

Jim Flora Art LLC has released a limited edition fine art print of an uncirculated Flora pen & ink drawing from the mid-1990s entitled Sunday Morning. This is the latest-life work by the artist we have offered in a numbered edition. Two prints are now listed on eBay at a launch price, after which subsequent prints will be offered at increasing prices as edition depletes.

Update: Launch prints have been sold. Edition now available at

Monday, May 26, 2008

Web roundup

Flora-related stuff on the web:

Dan Pearson of the Pioneer-Press (Illinois) reviews the Lake County Discovery Museum's exhibit: "Flora's Art is Full of Fun." Story includes interviews with LCDM's Steve Furnet and your Florablogger.

"Scribbler," based in San Antonio, blogs about Vintage Books My Kid Loves, including Flora's Kangaroo for Christmas and Grandpa's Farm.

Flora illustratrations for "Will Robots Make People Obsolete?" Parade Magazine, 1959, posted at the Paleo-Future blog.

And download some Flora WFMU wallpaper for your desktop.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Television Commercials

Section art, 29th Annual of Advertising and Editorial Art
The Art Directors Club of New York, 1950

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Jugglers edition complete

Jugglers, a 1957 Flora woodcut, was recently editioned at Yee-Haw Industrial Letterpress, in Knoxville. The 50 prints, struck from the original artist's block, will be offered for sale by Jim Flora Art LLC in about a month. YH printed Railroad Town in 2006/2007, and plans to produce several more Flora relief prints over the next two years.

A vintage artist's print of this work was reproduced in The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

At last -- Spring!

It's been a long time comin' here in Minnesota -- at last I can milk the cow, play some records and mow the lawn! Ah, yes -- but it still drizzles. Hence the umbrella. And cigar.

Saturday Evening Post advertising promotional booklet, 1955.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Faded Line launches Flora

The Colorado-based Faded Line Clothing Co. has launched their Flora apparel series. Four different Flora images printed on sixteen shirts (and an infant's onesie) can be viewed and purchased at the FLC Flora page.

The images (licensed from Jim Flora Art LLC) are titled "Jived" (from the 1954 Primer for Prophets series); "Robot Guy" (detail from July 1956 Research & Engineering magazine cover); "Drummer" (1993 unpublished pen & ink of Gene Krupa); and "Hot Notes" (1941 detail from Shillito's Department Store circular).

We don't know plans for FLC's retail roll-out, but for now this snug armor can be scored with a few mouse-clicks at the store's site.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

predator train

early 1940s pencil sketch adapted for
Robert Lowry short story "The Monkey Cane,"
appearing in Gup (Little Man Press, 1942)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pishtosh, Bullwash & Wimple

Pishtosh, Bullwash & Wimple, published in 1972 (back cover above), was Flora's 12th children's book, and first for Atheneum. His first eleven were published by Harcourt Brace, under legendary kid-lit editor Margaret McElderry. In 1971, after a quarter-century with the company, McElderry was remaindered by Harcourt. According to Publisher's Weekly:
After editing many Newbery and Caldecott Medal and Honor winners (including the Newbery and Caldecott Medals together, in 1952), McElderry was asked to take early retirement, a request that stunned her. "When I asked why, I was told that the wave of the future had passed me by," she says. "That was the exact wording, and it was a real slap in the face."

Obviously, many others thought otherwise, as McElderry soon received job offers from 12 publishers. The winner was Atheneum, where she launched her own line of books. In her words, "My imprint was given to me as an honor, and it was, since it was the first children's book imprint to have a person's name attached to it."

One of the authors she lured from Harcourt was Flora, who wrote and illustrated six books for McElderry's new imprint.