I was not a packrat. I was quite precise in my determination. Rather than keep entire bulky magazines, I judiciously selected the best pieces for salvation, and kept them neatly filed within a cardboard box. I was in love with Leyendecker's images, but they were few and far between. I found plenty of Norman Rockwell though.
I admit that then, even as now, a female presence in illustrations and comics makes an image more interesting to me than otherwise. Rather than being sexual in nature, I really think it is more of a sensual quality. An image feels warmer and entices aesthetic appreciation when an artist or photographer has delineated their appreciation of the female mystique. Even as a child, I would linger and contemplate over such material, not leering or salacious, but delving into the mysterious and exotic. A female presence certainly wasn't necessary for me to enjoy an image. An odd combination of strength and sensitivity appealed to me, whatever the subject. Somehow, even at the age of ten, I knew good art when I saw it.
Not that a lot of people would say that illustration in general was 'good art'. Illustration was, and still is in many quarters, the bastard of the arts, comic art in particular. I don't care, it doesn't matter one whit what people think, as long as it still gets published, labels of good or bad don't matter. Let each person decide for themselves.
But imagine this young boy that I was, searching always searching for images, not greedily, but adventurously. Constantly perusing them, to step into their frame of reference to let his imagination wander. I was a reader, as well, don't get me wrong. It was the combination of word and image that I fed on. But the image called for me, so that even with my eyes closed I could envision not just what the artist portrayed, but to the left of it or the right of it, or before or after. In the comics, that is what is termed 'between the panels'. It is up to the viewer to fill in the missing details. Obviously I was not the only person to do so.
These years later, I find it funny to think of myself, so young, and so dedicated to the pursuit of this particular happiness. And it was not a passive indulgence. From it, I learned to draw and paint and illustrate and cartoon, and it became my life's career. I have not had a job since I was twenty that was not art related, and for the last 30 years I have been a full-time freelance artist.