For many years I was a bookseller by trade. Once we purchased about 625 issues of The American Weekly and I was introduced to this unique magazine during the laborious process of cataloging them. I had these illustrations scanned for my catalog, so I thought you might like a sneak peek at what treasures were being delivered every Sunday morning along with the funnies.
The American Weekly was published by the Hearst Corporation (from at least 1911 into 1960s) for inclusion as a supplement to their Sunday newspapers. Sort of the Parade Magazine of its day, it was also the precursor of the National Enquirer and could have given the Police Gazette a run for its money. It was billed as having a circulation of over 50,000,000 readers and was filled with scantily clad showgirls and tales of murder and suspense. It was large - about 21"x15" - and printed on fragile newsprint, so few copies have survived the ensuing decades. Finding 600 issues is, as we so understatedly declare in the book trade, uncommon.
While much of each 12-24-page issue is taken up with sensationalistic photos and text (and even some acknowledged fiction), the illustrations are generally top-notch. Especially the covers! Here's a sampling (these each took four scans to capture the entire sheet!):
|The amazing Lee Conrey!
If you want to see a close up of his art, click HERE.
|H. Chandler Christy - 1922||Arnold Mello - 1923||G.E. Studdy - 1925|
|Henry Raleigh - 1926||Nell Brinkley - 1927||Jose Segrelles - 1931|
|C.D. Mitchell - 1936||Charles R. Knight - 1937||Andre - 1938|
|Joe Little - 1941||Alastair K. Macdonald - 1942||Russell Patterson - 1943|
Other cover artists include: Howard Chandler Christy, James Montgomery Flagg, Nell Brinkley, A.K. Macdonald, C.D. Mitchell, Leon Bakst, Erté, Lee Conrey, Fish, Russell Patterson, Henry Raleigh, JosÃ© Segrelles, G.E. Studdy, and lots more.
The best (and most) of the interior art is by the amazing Lee Conrey. Our collection runs from 1918 to 1943 and issues from 1923 through 1943 have his work. It's clear to me that he was a major influence on Virgil Finlay and probably on Alex Raymond. Thousands of his sensational pen and ink drawings appear in these issues. I wish I could reproduce them all!
And speaking of Virgil Finlay, if you've seen the book Virgil Finlay in The American Weekly, you have an inkling of the type of work he's done for these issues between the years 1938 and 1943. Above is one of his more impressive samples measuring over 14" in width in the original. You can also get an idea of the sensationalistic nature of the contents of these magazines. Nothing was too farfetched to speculate upon if it could offer the possibility of a good picture. Finlay and Conrey both provided lots of imaginative drawings. Other regular contributors included Joe Little, Gordon Ross, Edmund Frederick, Ben Jorj Harris, et al, and I've turned up occasional work by John R. Flanagan, Orson Lowell, Otto Soglow, and others.
And, of course, with a circulation that large, the ads were often spectacular. Not to imply that the following list is typical, but we have found a couple of large color ads each so far by: Willy Pogany, N.C. Wyeth, McClelland Barclay, Matt Clark, Dean Cornwell, Bradshaw Crandell, John Lagatta, Andrew Loomis, Rose O'Neill, Norman Rockwell, and others. Just imagine the above Lucky Strike ad by Wyeth printed at 14"x12" and you'll have an idea of the impact the size could make.
I no longer have any of these magazines for sale, having retired from the book business. And, no, I have NO idea where you can find other issues. Sorry.
Illustrations are copyright by their respective owners.
This page written, designed & © 2001 by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. Updated 2011.