Saturday, August 23, 2008

Harperian Times!

Life and work have been intruding into my blogging and flickring time recently. But I've made the time for another batch of illustrations by the incomparable Charles Harper from 1950s issues of Ford Time magazine over at flickr. If you're unfamiliar with the digest-sized mag be sure and follow the links to all of my Ford Times posts over the last year or so, and to the wonderful work of Charlie Harper, stylization master!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Best of All Worlds!

I love illustration - especially stylized, cartoony illustration. I also love vintage children's magazines. Add to this my love for fezzes and you have a perfect storm of delight as I share with one and all once again some primo doodles from my collection of late 1950s and early 1960s Humpty Dumpty's and Children's Digest magazines!

Smath! Lawler! Kugelman! ( Kugelman? ) All names famous ( at least in my house ) for great stylized two-colour mag work are featured in my latest posting at flickr. So don't delay - scoot on over for some rolicking good black-plus-one-colour craziness!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Centennial Raceways

In 1967, at the height of the slot car racing craze in North America, my parents opened a slot car facility in our home town of Nanaimo, B.C. Complete with two tracks and 1/32 scale cars for sale this part-time business ( open in the evenings and on the weekends ) provided the perfect venue for local slot car fanatics to race their electric cars during the year or so that it was open. Although busy and popular, and timed perfectly ( slot racing was showing up on national television broadcasts, with appearances on Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas and Ed Sullivan's programs, among many others ) the raceway just couldn't pay for itself. I also assume it would have been difficult keeping up with the demands of both this side-line business and my Dad's full-time hot tar roofing job.

Luckily I have a few mementos from the business to share. Above is a combination business card / coupon for a half hour of free racing time at the track.

1967 was the 100th anniversary of Canada officially becoming a country, so there were a lot of new ventures, products, publications and events slapped with the "Centennial" moniker that year. Standing proudly ( in fetching white pants ) in the shot below is my Dad. On the left is the smaller, four slot figure "8" track. On the right is the much larger eight slot track.

No expense was spared in advertising the raceway. Notice the award winning design and cutting edge typography of these two ads from local newsletters and bulletins! The fancy shmancy illustrative race car in the bottom ad was provided by my mom.

I'm not sure if the slot car pictured below was a prize or a purchase, but it was deemed photo-worthy. Look closely at that throng of dewy-eyed racers in the background wishing my mom would hurry up and take the furshlugginer picture already so they could get back to uninterrupted racing!

I'm not sure if there was more than one racing facility in Nanaimo at the time ( if there was Centennial was certainly the largest ) but they felt it necessary to print up these cards to make it official. I wonder if any 15 year olds tried to flash this to get into bars or to impress the chicks? I'm sure it had the opposite to intended effect.

My mom relays the story of painting ( or repainting, I guess ) the walls of the raceway the night before I was born in September 1968. This would account for many thing in my life including my love of racing, of paint, and of my poor memory and occasional lapses of concentration.

Also, this would account for many thing in my life including my love of racing, of paint, and of my poor memory and occasional lapses of concentration.

Soon though, all good things must end, and with a new first child ( me! ) adding to the struggles the Raceway closed down. A couple of large fishing tackle boxes full of cars and parts, as well as the smaller track ended up in storage in a shed on our property as a kid. But the larger track found it's way within 5 or 6 years to the local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club. Covering most of the main floor of the clubhouse building the track was the main attraction for me and many other kids for a few years in the mid-70s.
In the newspaper clipping below from around 1975 or 1976 you can see my dad holding court in the upper center as I put my car on the track upper far left for another go at breaking the track record.

Here are a couple of links to photos of the slot car I ( okay, my dad ) built and I painted and ran at this time. It was made from late 60s parts left over from the business.

And here's a link to a great history of slot car racing.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


No, that's not some new-fangled slang term the kids are using these days on the internet tubes ( hold on... maybe it is? ), but the last name of illustrator Robert Q. A few illustrations from his wonderfully wild "Busy Winds" kid's book from 1968 are featured on my flickr photostream as we speak. Grab a flashlight, some bottled water and the dog and head down to the storm cellar for a look!