I noticed I haven’t posted anything here in a really long time so I thought I would post some pictures of my favorite cartoon art on record covers. When we think of cartoons we usually think of comic strips, comic books, or animation, but there’s also a lot of great cartoon art to be found on record and CD covers (no covers for mp3′s, sadly). Anyway, here are a few favorites:
Toots – by Toots Thielemans
This is a 1968 album by the great jazz harmonica and guitar player, Toots Thielemans. The artwork is a caricature of a four-handed Toots playing guitar and harmonica. The artist was renowned caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. I know he also did similar caricatures for a series of CDs in the 90′s of various big band leaders of the 1930′s and 40′s. You can pretty much spot a Hirschfeld caricature from a mile away. His flowy linework is one of a kind.
The Dave Brubeck Octet
This one is a 1956 LP by the Dave Brubeck Octet. I believe this was the only album released by this group. Brubeck is more well known for his Quartet with Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright, and Joe Morello. Even if you’re not familiar with Brubeck, you’ve probably heard the group’s most famous song, Take Five, which was written by Desmond. The artwork on this record is by illustrator Arnold Roth. He uses a beautiful scratchy line on this drawing. Here’s a short bit about Roth from Nick Meglin’s book The Art of Humorous Illustration:
Roth’s pen work has many “lines.” They range from scratchy and sensitive to bold and black. Each approach is matched to the job by feel rather than formula. This full range of line work is especially effective when budget or layout prohibits the use of color and Roth has to “supply his own” via black and white. “Black and white is color with a very limited palette,” offers the artist. “Line can be very colorful, especially if the blacks are handled well. Design possibilities are endless. You can achieve depth and form simply by playing densely worked areas against white space. Or you can use black as a color by brushing it on flatly in a way that destroys volume. To maintain clarity I thy not to confuse the blacks used as color with darkened areas that suggest light and shade.”
Everybody Loves a Nut – Johnny Cash
Finally, we have this 1966 gem by Johnny Cash. As the title suggests, this album is made up of humorous songs such as the classics The One on the Right is on the Left and Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog. Jack Davis is the artist behind the cover artwork. Here, he illustrates the content of many of the songs on the album – Johnny’s leg being swallowed by a boa constrictor, a dirty old egg sucking dog, a “pickin’ singin’ folk group,” and Joe Bean swinging from a noose. Jack Davis is one of the most prolific and influential cartoonists of all time. He’s probably best known for his long run in Mad Magazine. I had a chance hear a talk and demonstration given by Davis a couple of years ago. I posted about it here.