Ward Brackett: into the 1960s

Ward Brackett ad art from 1956.

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Fine, competent work - but very 'straight.'

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That same year, Brackett art from Cosmopolitan magazine. Here once again you can see Brackett using the opportunity of story illustration to try something just a little bit different. But hardly adventurous.

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Fast forward to 1962, again in Cosmo magazine.

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Now, this is not your father's Ward Brackett.

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What triggered the change... and was Brackett a leader or a follower?

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In Walt Reed's seminal book, The Illustrator in America, Reed writes that Ward Brackett decided in mid-career to return to school, to the Brooklyn Museum, where he studied with Reuben Tam. Is this stylistic transformation a result of those studies?

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Here's more Ward Brackett art from around the same period - from a 1963 Reader's Digest Condensed Books story.

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While researching Brackett online last weekend I came across an interesting anecdote from French comics writer, Jean-Pierre Dionnet.

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Dionnet recounts how, a few years ago, while discussing the work of Bob Peak and Bernie Fuchs with Jim Steranko, the legendary comic artist/illustrator told Dionnet to look at Ward Brackett's work, suggesting that was where Peak and Fuchs had first found the inspiration for their early revolutionary stylistic efforts.

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Dionnet writes, "One day I finally found an original Ward Brackett and I understood. Yes, yes, this style - falsely fast but all the necessary details are there..."

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"... just good Ward Brackett, who was a GI who married a Japanese woman and stayed fifteen years after the war, inventing the new American style from then some Japanization." [Google's imperfect translation from the French]

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The story sounds mixed up - because we know Brackett didn't stay in Japan for 15 years after WWII. But still... could it be that Ward Brackett, enjoying a fine but much less spectacular career than Peak and Fuchs, was actually the stylistic catalyst for these two giants of the illustration business?

* My Ward Brackett Flickr set.

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