Air-Wick - Classin' up the joint.

One of our wee little interns dropped this ad on my desk this morning, adorably wondering if the illustration could be of interest. She had no idea it was a stylistic dead ringer for something from my childhood, and is of massive interest. Good thing I maintained a solid poker face. You can't let these kids get a big head. Gotta keep 'em hungry. "I'll have a look at it." I grumbled, and waved her away.

Check it out! This uncredited 1957 drawing, without any clues or tipoffs to otherwise give context, could not look more The Late Fifties, which were a great sweet spot for commercial illustration.

Notice there are no outlines on any of the forms. Line work is all internal, with just blocks of color to describe the silhouettes of objects. Super cool. This is counter-intuitive by and large. What's a line for, if not to show the edge of a shape? Not in The Late Fifties. Lines are for wrinkles in clothes, and hair and stuff, but not edges. This, combined with the wiggly, clearly-hand-drawn look of the line work, keeps the illustration feeling really loose and fun. That's good whimsy, baby!

In trying to make the people in the illustration seem elegant and sophisticated, the artist gave them all rigid postures and really long necks. The lady in the middle with the white dress looks like Homestar Runner's broom-shaped girlfriend, Marzipan.

This drawing rings a bell - both in the subject matter, and in the art style. If you're like me, you are over a hundred years old, and your family had some board games that were purchased before you were born. We had an early edition of Clue (or "Cluedo", if you're in Europe, because you're frikkin weird), which I have deduced was from 1963. It looked like this:

Here's the game board from the 1963 Clue (or "Cluedo"if you're in Europe, where "Cluedo" is actually a portmanteau of "Clue" and "Ludo", which is Latin for "I play", because Europeans have more education than us Americans, who would never grasp the Latin reference in a bazillion years).

This is a pretty good match for our Air-Wick illustration, but if we go back a little earlier to the 1957 edition of the Clue box, we see this glorious little picture. It could not be found in a larger size, sadly.

There we go. There's our match. This was not the version we had in our house during my kidhood, so I don't know why I remember it - probably because the art style was pretty close on the '63 version and I got a lucky match when I glanced at an even older game box.

Good job, Eager Young Intern. You've got a bright future here at GO! Tower... but no way am I telling you that.

Click for big.

Click for big.


Michelle_Randy said...

The cigarette holder! Trés elegante!

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