Friday, March 5, 2010

Harrison Cady

Harrison Cady illustrated Thornton Burgess's newspaper bedtime stories from 1913 to 1960. The match was first made by the People's Home Journal; Cady illustrated the first Burgess submissions in 1911 and then became his regular illustrator in the magazine until its demise in 1929. It is Cady, even more than Burgess, perhaps, who is responsible for the popularity of the Burgess characters.

Cady had been a successful illustrator and cartoonist before meeting Burgess. He did editorial cartoon work, for example, for Life (the two below are from 1908).

He was best known, perhaps, for his amazingly detailed Beetleburg cartoons. Below are a couple from St. Nicholas (1912)

He also tried his hand at children's book illustration. I am particularly struck by the image below, from Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Troubles of Queen Silver-bell (1907) which ties together the world of fairy and the "folks of feather and fur" and provides a preview of Cady's "clothed animal" approach to representing the Burgess characters.

The People's Home Journal provided Cady with his largest canvas for Burgess story illustration, even giving him the occasional cover. In the earlier years, the Cady illustrations are remarkably detailed but show hints of the geometrical line-work that would characterize his later illustrations. They also still hadn't completed the transition out of fairy world--as indicated in the concrete representation of "Old Mother Nature" below:

Here's a selection of Green Meadow Club illustrations (patched-up photocopies of Library of Congress microfilm)

The last image shows an early version of Peter Rabbit, Cady's most iconic character (and the star of a later Cady Sunday comic strip).

Cady's newspaper illustrations are much smaller and simpler, given the space and printing limitations of the medium. (Some newspapers evidently saw the illustrations as a space filler, only printing them on occasion). Here's a couple from the later decades of "Burgess Bedtime Stories:"

You can see, at least in these two illustrations, less concern for putting clothes on animals, particularly birds. While Cady greatly added to the value of Bedtime Stories as a commodity (his illustrations were the basis for the Quaddies property), his clothed animal approach became a liability when Burgess desired to be seen more as a naturalist.

Next: Cady's Peter Rabbit

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