Southern California - A Place for Medieval Families

I'm not sure why images in magazines of the 1940's were more often painted, rather than photographed, but I'm glad. Maybe it had something to do with the printing technology of the time or maybe it was just the fashion. I can't see why it would be cheaper or easier to reproduce a full color painting than a full color photo. Even on the cover of this magazine (not shown here), it was a mix of B/W and color photography. When flipping through an old magazine, it immediately leaps out at me that it's from the 40's, because of all the painted ads. That's usually one to buy.

Rendered ads seem to be more naive and delusional than photos, and these are the things that make old magazines hilarious for me. Without looking up demographic information, I'm guessing that the population of Southern California has been pretty diverse for a long time, based on nothing more than it's proximity to Mexico. Back in '46, though, you had better promote the idea of a country paved with white bread, regardless of the actual demographics.

The rendering is typically gorgeous, of course. I'm trying to figure out what it is about the style that screams 40's to me, and it's hard to put my finger on. It's almost certainly gouache, but that's not it. I think what, to me, is so great about these old renderings is the contrast between the light and dark parts. Also, the saturation of color is higher, almost cartoony. This may be because color printing was novel at the time, so they wanted to flaunt it, like in Wizard of Oz, with the berserk technicolor. I still see billboards for Coke on my way home from work, featuring paintings like those done for Coke by Haddon Sundblom in the 30's, and those have that old look that's so hard to explain. You know... the ones with Santa Claus drinking a bottle of Coke? The style has that balance of realism with spontaneous, unblended brushwork that make me so jealous.

Anyway, back to making fun of the ad. Check out the picture of dad, who's just caught a fish with his trident! Wait - a trident? Who brings a trident on vacation? "Honey, let's pack up the nomad this weekend and head to San Diego for a picnic and some spear fishing. Then I can bring down a puma with my flail for dinner and we can have that sparrow I killed with my morning star for a midnight snack!" Have you ever known anybody who spear fishes AND looks like Ward Cleaver? Have you ever known anybody who spear fishes?

Also not to be missed is the unfortunate compositional decision to have the butt of the spear look as though it's been rammed through the boy's head. "Uh, that's a nice fish, dear, but you've almost certainly killed our only son." "That just means more fish for us, sweetie!" Maybe I'm being too glass-half-empty about this? Maybe dad is pulling the trident OUT of his boy's skull, which has been pushed through from the opposite side by parties unknown (fishes, perhaps?), and now mom can begin to administer direct mouth-to-brain resucitation in time for the whole family to enjoy a nice fish dinner? Junior should recover in no time. There's a massive aloe vera plant in the forground to heal up the gaping skull wound, with only slurred speech to remember the incident. The important thing is, everything works out fine in Southern California. You should visit. Just be sure to bring along your trebuchet, for some light hunting.


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