Monday, February 27, 2012

Intriguing for the Eye

Frank Papé was an illustrator whose work is intriguing for the eye, and yet he's not as famous as a number of his contemporaries. Papé had an odd mixture of styles even within one book, so that one page would be serious in tone, another humorous in tone, and another a combination of both.

His style still strangely reminds me of some of the work of the artist Will Elder, who came along later for Mad magazine and beyond. Papé seemed to also indulge in 'chicken fat' in his own way, strange little non-essential but interesting bits here and there. Check out those bottom tiers on the 'etching/engraved' full-page illustrations.

I would LOVE to see an illustrated biography of this man.

Frank C. Papé — Figures of Earth — 1925



title page


Kid said...

Some nice work. Why don't you write that book, Thom? Maybe a publisher would give you an advance. I know you're busy, but I'm sure you'd enjoy the challenge.

Annie said...

Hi Thom,

These illustrations range from the wonderful to the amazing to the creepy. Thank you for finding them and scanning them so lovingly, with sharp detail and the texture of the pages.

I always enjoy Frank Pape's work and I've never seen these. His illustrations are always intriguing to me, often lyrical and beautiful, sometimes sensual and sometimes lurid, and always highly detailed and dynamic.

The humor in a couple of these actually made me laugh, where I was drawn to the subtlety; not perhaps the blatant ones you may expect. I agree it would be interesting to read about his life and the influences on his creativity.

You would be the perfect person to write and design the book, and to select the illustrations.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...


Mahendra Singh said...

the freydis one is a stunning display of bravado inking … esp. when one considers he's staying in the "dark side", tonally, yet still maintaining the rhythm of the texture

was Papé trained in etching? He has that knack for making the paper work as hard as the ink


Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Mahendra — excellent points.

And for his effect to be as good as it was, I would have to surmise that he must have had training in the art of etching.

There is some mystery as to his early years as an artist, and it would fill in some blanks if it could be shown that Papé spent some formative years as an engraver.

Anonymous said...

It'd be nice to track down the visual references. The picture of Magicians trying to impart life to images is a constant puzzle for me: it's illustrating a passage where I think Cabell parodies the style of well-known authors of the time (don't know who, but the changes in style make me think its parodies).

And I think the magicians in the illustration might also be well-known literary authors of the time. That one at the front, apparently trying to impart life by unorthodox means to Leda (while kicking the swan away), reminds me very much of George Bernard Shaw.
But it's just a suspicion.