Geezers Gathered 2017
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1970 Anti War Project
In early 1970s I was a writer at McCann-Erickson Advertising Agency. The Agency was asked to create a Pro Bono Anti-Vietnam project for Clergy and Laymen Concerned. The Creative Dept. submitted advertising against the War in Vietnam. I wrote a full page print ad that ran in the Chronicle, N.Y. Times, etc. The headline said Our Government’s Peace Plan is a Bomb…with a slogan that read End the Endless War.
I also created a radio and television commercial featuring Direction by Haskell Wexler and actor Henry Fonda’s Voice Over. We recorded Henry Fonda in the billiard-room of his house. When we first drove to his house Henry Fonda greeted us in his front yard wearing jeans and gardening gloves. He said he was doing some “weeding”.
At one point during the recording of the commercials, Mr. Fonda commented on the script, saying, “Jane should talk more like this when she talks about the War”.
Later, Haskell Wexler said he was hearing too much noise on the recording. We went to Mr. Fonda’s deck which overlooked the U.C.L.A. campus below and saw military helicopters and tear gas smoke across the University below. We patiently waited until the Anti-Vietnam Student Protest ended before continuing to film our Anti-Vietnam radio and television commercials.
This is the submission I made to KQED. They didn’t use it…but, it does seem to be appropriate for Geezers.
Imitating The New Yorker Cartoonists
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” This is the famous quote used since it was stated by the English cleric and writer, Charles Caleb Colton who lived from 1780 – 1832. Artists, through the years, have learned from each other and often there is an obvious similarity achieved in their work. I found that it was challenging to imitate the art styles of others. As a layout artist, I could present a particular artist’s style- — with the plan of the client hiring the artist known for that style.
In 1968, Charles Matheny Advertising was located on the second floor of the Belli Building (where I was beginning my graphic art career) we both admired James Thurber who was an American writer with a unique style of wit and humorous illustration. Thurber’s cartoons and short stories were published mostly in The New Yorker, and he was also a journalist and a playwright—
–but he could no longer be reached :
James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 2, 1961).
So imitation was our answer.
I offered a similar “look” (not truly copying his style — not really fooling Thurber fans). Charles Matheny had a long career in copywriting for advertising. There were various campaigns for his client, California Casualty. These ads, folders and counter card show the art style that didn’t take much time to execute so it fit the client’s schedules and budget for this campaign.
In 1975, there were two ad campaigns, promoting the use of BankAmericard. I was to study Robert Weber’s cartoon style. His work was easy to find as his cartoons were also published often in The New Yorker magazine. Robert Maxwell Weber (April 22, 1924 – October 20, 2016) Known for over 1,400 cartoons that appeared in The New Yorker from 1962 to 2007 – this was an artist that could be reached in the 1970s ! The first ad shows Weber’s style. Next, my layout (imitating Weber’s style) and the final ad by Weber as printed in many publications.
With the second BofA ad — I again tried to guess the image that would sell the concept to the client, National BankAmericard Inc. (that I knew as NBI). (After all these years, my files are incomplete and I cannot remember the creative director that guided me.) I was not able to have a copy of the second final printed ad showing Weber’s final art — but here is the Xerox from those days that shows his plan. I was able to use this image in preparing the type and placement of the art before his final illustration arrived.
Maxwell “Bud” Arnold formed an advertising agency in 1970. He was creating effective advertising campaigns for clients but he also felt that he could use advertising to reach an audience on socially conscious issues. In September of 1976, for Maxwell Arnold’s client, Golden Gate Transit, I was asked to imitate a Charles Saxon style. (This was the only time that I had free-lanced for Mr. Arnold. He died May 24, 2013.)
After being an editor for Dell Publishing before and after his service in WW2, Saxon began his career as a very well know cartoonist — first for The Saturday Evening Post and in 1956 he started producing his outstanding 92 covers and 700 cartoons for The New Yorker.
Following the two SAXON covers, below, this was my “Saxonish” drawing that’s Bud Arnold submitted to Golden Gate Transit for an approval of style—
—but the finished art was assigned to still another artist who was showing in several popular magazines and also worked for year for Disney : Henry ‘Hank’ Syverson (October 5, 1918 – August 12, 2007) Besides being a constant cartoonist for the Saturday Evening Post, This Week and The New Yorker magazines, his drawings reached other countries with PAN AM Airways ads.
Here are some of Syverson’s creations :
The last ad appeared in October in the Marin County’s Independent Journal. It was then that I found out that the client had changed the artist from Charles Saxon to Hank Syverson.
Lunch With Dugald
Lunch With Dugald
by Newell Alexander
Rosemary and I had flown to San Francisco from L.A. to act in a series of commercials for a now defunct Bay Area amusement park. In the first shot of the day, Rosemary, two little kids and I were riding in a basket on the back of a huge elephant. We were stuck as the animal proceeded to go rogue, he ran through a large part of the park before he could be stopped with us unable to get off. Later, in another shot I was supposed to stand next to a Tiger who decided to lie on top of me, I was trying not to panic. The trainer kept screaming at the cat and jerking on a long chain. I was begging him, “Don’t make him mad.” The Tiger finally lost interest, stood up and sauntered away. The production was a disaster, the director quit in the middle of the day, the whole thing was a wash, I don’t think the spot ever aired. But all was not lost, we both had a good payday and we were going to get to see my old pal, famed San Francisco artist Dugald Stermer, so the trip was not a total failure.
It had been several years since I had seen Dugald, so Rosemary and I rented a car and added an extra day to our trip so we could have nice long catch-up lunch. Dugald called in his no nonsense manner, “Meet me at Delancy’s, it’s near my studio in the Embarcadero.” The meal was delightful, Dugald’s presence gave us lots of attention, the staff approached our table as if he were a Francis Ford Coppola Godfather, we later found out he was a long standing member of the board of the Delancy Street Foundation that managed the restaurant. I did give him some grief over him having a sandwich named after him on the menu. Dugald wasn’t a big fan of show business ; his ex-father-in-law was James Bacon, a long time prominent entertainment columnist for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. Dugald’s former wife Carol was raised in Hollywood amid all the glitz and glamour, neither she nor Dugald were attracted to celebrity.
After lunch we walked around to Dugald’s studio, which was in the complex, it’s hard to describe how he had designed his workspace, it was reminiscent of what Tom Mix or Ken Maynard’s den would look like, Indian pottery, rugs, Western memorabilia, a real Western ambiance. Several left-handed guitars adorned the walls. After his passing it was duplicated in a display at the California College of the Arts.
When he first came to Houston, I watched Dugald transition from a West Coast casual look, to boots, vest, Levis, and western shirts, a signature look he retained to the end. In his studio we looked at some of his work, we reminisced, Rosemary and I sang, and we drank some rare Irish Whiskey, of which he was very fond. It was the last time we were face-to-face.
The next week after our lunch, I wrote Dugald the following letter using the Delancy Restaurant address.
Dear Mr. Stermer,
We had lunch in San Francisco last week at Delancy’s, we saw you
having lunch with one of our favorite actors, Newell Alexander, we were going to ask him for an autograph but we somehow missed him when you guys left. My wife asked the staff who you were and the waiter said you just ate his sandwich. Ha ! Since you know him could you send this enclosed package to him ? It has return postage.
Thanking you in advance, this means a lot to us.
Babs and Sven Yevhoods
P.S. We met Newell at the Cow Palace when he was touring with Neil Young.
I got an answer to my letter a few days later, it was on his letterhead, in the middle of the page were two words hand lettered in his trademark calligraphy, “Nice Try.”
I first met Dugald when I was working as a designer/paste up artist in a small six-man studio in booming Houston, Texas. He had been working for a short while for the Dick Kuhn Studio in Los Angeles, he was recruited by our studio owner, Bill Middaugh. I was a little disappointed when my boss Bill, came back from a California trip all-aglow over Dugald’s work. I saw the attraction when I leafed through Dugald’s portfolio, his work was so good I couldn’t be jealous. I had one year of art at the University of Houston, he was a graduate of the UCLA School of Fine Art. He and Olympic Champion Rafer Johnson were classmates and they were exchange students together in India during Dugald’s Junior year.
I was assigned to pick Dugald up at Hobby Airport in South Houston, I was curious, I knew he and I were about the same age. We both were family men, I had three children, he had four. The years he had spent in art school, I had spent in the U.S. Navy as an aviator.
We were doing very well at the studio, the addition of Dugald was amazing, he and I worked well together, word was out that we were a “hot shop,” doing good, creative work. Our boss Bill came in with the news that we were getting a chance to land an ad campaign for the largest bank in Houston, no pitch, just design an ad, if they liked it we could have the account. It was to be a full-page four-color ad on the back of Houstonian Magazine. We briefly brainstormed and Dugald did a rough sketch, it said in small type, “member of,” and then “FDIC” in a huge bold font. He added a small photo of the bank building about the size of a postage stamp on the bottom margin. Sizing up the work, Boss Bill said, “I don’t think they’ll get it.” There was a long silence, “How about doing an alternate ? Just make the building big and FDIC small.” Dugald refused to change it. I wouldn’t change it either and we didn’t get the account. Dugald’s reaction ? Fuck ‘em.” The story got around the ad community in Houston and our business skyrocketed. It was a lesson well learned. I used the same technique later when I was working as an art director on major accounts at a large agency in Dallas. I won some battles and lost some.
I never knew Dugald as an illustrator, he did however do the linocuts and hand set all the type in the work he did on his small letterpress he called “The Impress.” The small 4 x 5 inch books were gems that he printed on handmade paper, the text was simple and clever, the art was very tasty. His press was set up in his house and he spent many late nights drinking Irish whiskey and making small delightful pieces of art. His mastery of typography was amazing and he won numerous awards in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth Art Director’s competitions.
Howard Gossage was flown in to judge the Houston Art Director’s show. He was an icon in the advertising San Francisco advertising community, Howard was blown away by Dugald’s work. Dugald won several awards and with Howard’s help he landed the Art Director’s job at Ramparts Magazine in the Bay Area. Dugald assisted me in getting a job at CA magazine in Palo Alto. I free-lanced some for Dugald at Ramparts but only for a few months. The mail boy at the magazine, and our weed connection, was a young eager kid named Jann Wenner. Jann went on to transform the anti-war magazine Ramparts into today’s Rolling Stone Magazine.
My tenure at CA was brief, I moved back to Texas and didn’t see Dugald for many years. I watched his ascent into art fame as I labored in Southern California building an acting career.
Dugald and I only had one moment of discord, I made an off-hand remark in a post, “Keep the lenses of your Art-O-Graph clean.” (An Art-O-Graph is a tool to aid drawing). I knew he was pissed because of several one-word responses to my e-mails.
Every once in a while when I have a moment I will log on to Dugald’s website and just browse through some of his work. His design sense helped him place his art on the page in very tasty ways. He would scoff at the notion, but I consider him a master.
Dugald Stermer mastered the application of art and ideas.
The Ramparts covers, above show one example from each of the years when Dugald was the art director at the magazine. The two examples— Ben Franklin and Woody Guthrie — show styles far different than illustrations that he produced later. The editorial page, in 1969 explained that Ramparts had been loosing revenue and had to go into bankruptcy, Chapter 11. Dugald left his position as art director in 1970. The magazine needed to raise its subscription price and had legal problems. It lasted until 1975. Then it was taken over and became the Rolling Stone Magazine. Another offshoot was Mother Jones Magazine.
At the left of this story, under Artist’s Sites, you will see Dugald Stermer’s website showing his deft illustration and lettering styles known to his many admirers.
More on Newell Alexander can be found on IMDb.
“IT” Was An ATM !
In August of 1974, I was free-lancing at 300 Broadway, second floor. I was assigned the challenge of creating a new image for Redwood Bank. I began with the colors so popular in those years, magenta and red. Here you see, just portions of pages of development — the last section shows the developed logo used with the basic logo of each of the bank branches.
So busy was I, with the logo development, I wasn’t yet informed what this new “IT” was offering. As approved copy arrived for typesetting and I received my instructions for a line drawing of the “Instant Teller” — I saw that this was very different ! There were many promotional pieces required : newspaper ads, folders, bank displays, outdoor boards, taxi backs and more. (In the third item below which was produced to mail the IT card to the Redwood Bank account holder, you can see that this is just my mock-up of what would be the actual plastic card.)
I have to laugh at myself because at that time, I thought that this form of banking — using a piece of equipment instead of the personal interaction with a human bank teller — would never catch on. Then, when it was said that a person would do their banking out on the street — then I was sure this was risky and a “bad Idea”! Recently, I looked up the first installments of this kind of service. In the US, a patent record issued to Luther George Simjian shows his 132nd patent (US3079603), was first filed on June 30,1960. There are reports of many banking machines with many names developed in many countries, but the “Instant Teller” was new to this area. I must have been too absorbed in my work to even read or hear any news reports about the new convenience.
Promotional pins, T-shirts, and plastic tote bags —were added to the Redwood Bank’s campaign. When the equipment and the card that activated the Instant Teller were ready, this newspaper story (below) appeared in San Rafael’s Independent Journal on August 21, 1975 describing a period of time when the equipment would be practiced — inside the bank — to be followed by the installation OUTSIDE and available “24 hours a day, 365 days a year”! One of the last of my assignments was this round handout, a reminder to try “IT”.
There were many years when Redwood Bank offered this new method of banking at each of their branches. I never thought to take a photo when the bank had the large brightly colored images of the “IT’ logo at his location at 1447 Fourth Street, San Rafael, CA.— I thought it would, always, be there.
The first photo, the location, 1447 Fourth Street, as it was in 1964. The second photo is how it looks now. It was originally a Pacific Gas and Electric building. Today, it has two-tenants, a dental practice and herb store /clinic. The bank has become Redwood Credit Union at the Montecito Shopping Center on Third Street in San Rafael. It has a green color scheme and ATMs outside.
I found it odd that there is no Internet reference about the Redwood Bank and its branches, nor any reference to the 1975 introduction to “IT”! But recently, I found out that a personal friend, Ann Cameron, whose title at that time was Senior Operations Officer, Redwood National Bank, was at the bank at that time ! She was able to bring a huge scrapbook of photos, newspaper clippings and bank publications. I asked Ann for her personal experiences with the introduction of “IT”!
She wrote :
Getting the first ATM (we called the Instant Teller) in Marin Co. sounds cool. And Redwood Bank was a bastion of cool, at least in the corner offices ! But for those of us who had to make it work it was nightmare. For starters during the roll out we had to wear T-shirts that had the slogan, YOU’LL LOVE IT AT REDWOOD right across our chests. UGG we all hated it ! In the first iteration the money had to be loaded in to little envelopes, a five-dollar bill and a twenty. Then the envelopes were loaded into trays that fitted into the back of the machine. Of course it broke down all the time and many nights a client would call me at home to come down and give them money from the back of the IT. As it was free standing kiosk in the parking lot security was always an issue. Auditing would have been most displeased if they ever figured out we just opened the doors and doled out money. The next generation of IT did not use the envelopes. The currency was fed into the trays, $20.00 in the top tray and $10.00 bill in the bottom. Of course if you reversed the trays then the machine dispensed $20s where the $10s should be. I had a huge dog in those days and always took him with me on my night excursions to the Bank, my security. Interestingly during this same period Redwood was also experimenting with what is now on-line banking, we called it computer banking. We had a handful of clients who had access to their accounts via their home computer. Eventually the Bank decided they did not have the infrastructure for all the complicated programming that needed to be in place to make computer banking viable.
From the scrapbook, I show these additional images :
The first shows the outdoor installation of the Instant Teller located in the bank’s parking lot with a group photo of the bank’s employees in 1976.
Second, is a clipping from the Vallejo Independent Press, August 12,1979.
Third, two pages from the Redwood Bancorp Annual Report 1975, which describes Redwood Bank’s innovative approaches to banking. (The illustrator is not credited and most likely would have been one of our Geezers, back in the day.)