I thought I would do something a little different today and highlight a few sites around the web that take in-depth looks at some classic Topps sets and the people that produced them. I am finishing up my guide to Topps from 1938-56 and starting to slowly extract myself from a years-long immersion in the era. My next port of call is going to be the mid 60's and what better way than to give some well deserved props to the early Topps artists than by directing you all to some key websites.
The artists sometimes get short shrift as their Topps work is not signed; indeed they were paid very little for their efforts and would have been "advised" by Topps not to talk openly about their work for the firm. Make no mistake though-it was the artwork that made a Topps card, especially the non-sports ones, a Topps card.
I'll not delve into Woody Gelman's output right now as there does not seem to be a dedicated site for him (yet) but he was quite instrumental, of course, in creating the "Topps style" of illustration. There is enough information scattered throughout the blog to get a feel for his influence though.
This site gets into the work of Wesley Morse, the first Bazooka Joe artist and soon to be looked at in a little more depth in a new book (with research being provided by BFF o'the archive Jeff Shepherd) that looks at his Topps work. Morse had a very interesting early career illustrating Tijuana Bibles and early newspaper strips.
Probably the most intriguing site is one run by the family of Norm Saunders. There are oodles of illustrations there and you can spend hours poking around. Saunders had a long career in the pulps before he did work for Topps.
Wally Wood is another Topps artist who is justly celebrated for his comic book work and is one of the giants of the field. He is perhaps best known for his early MAD comics work.
Another MAD alumni, Jack Davis, was an early artist for Topps.
And no roundup would be complete without invoking Basil Wolverton, the tormented genius.
Jay Lynch made his name in underground comix before doing yeoman's work for Topps starting in the late 60's and is forever associated with Wacky Packages. His website, sadly, looks pretty bare.
Lynch worked a lot with Art Spiegelman at Topps; Spiegelman is world rwnowned as the Pulitzer Prize creator and illustrator of Maus.
I am just scratching the surface here; there are so many artists that will never be identified and others who I am researching that will have their work discussed in future posts. I'll still be ping-ponging all over the timescape and dissecting the output of the Shorin-Topps era (1938-71 mostly) but want to get a discussion started on the artists since a lot of good information, tips and the like have been generated by the readers of this humble blog over the last four years.
Just wanted to drop a comment to let you know that at least one person got your "Winky Dink" reference.
Thanks for all the links; I'm going to come back and spend some time with each one, especially the Norm Saunders site.
Robert Crumb did the front illustrations for the 1965 Monster Greeting Cards set. I've been looking for a card from that set for a while now but haven't found any.
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