Illustration Art · Look Here · Noel Sickles

Look Here: Illustrations by Sickles for the condensation of BELOVED

The following illustrations by Noel Sickles were originally published in Reader’s Digest Condensed Books: Spring 1956 Selections; I scanned them from a copy of the book that I purchased at a local thrift store:


The two-page spreads don’t line up exactly, but I didn’t leave anything out. Whatever is missing from the centre of the images was missing in the original printing.

Drawing · Illustration Art · Look Here · Noel Sickles

Look Here: Seven drawings from 1973 by Noel Sickles

First published in National Geographic Magazine, vol. 144, no. 6 (December 1973), the following drawings by Noel Sickles of “Scorchy Smith” fame were commissioned by the magazine’s editors to accompany an article by David Lewis entitled “Alone to Antarctica”; they were scanned for display here at RCN, by me, from a copy of the magazine that I bought at a local thrift store:


Notice that the two largest drawings have a seam about two-thirds of the way from right. This is because the pictures were spread over two pages. Lazy bum that I am, I have done nothing to try to “fix” them.

Heads Up! · Noel Sickles

Heads Up: Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles

Here’s how the publisher describes this forthcoming book: “Noel Sickles drew comics for three brief years, yet his groundbreaking work on the 1930s aviation adventure series Scorchy Smith is a milestone in the history of newspaper comic strips. Over the past 70 years, however, readers have seen only occasional excerpts of this seminal work. Now, IDW’s Library of American Comics presents Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles, a comprehensive, oversized volume that collects, for the first time, every Sickles Scorchy strip, from December 1933 through November 1936.”

That’s over 300 pages of some of the most beautifully drawn adventure strips ever created. Although Sickles wasn’t in comic strips anywhere near long enough to become a household name — after he left Scorchy Smith, he spent the next forty years in magazine illustration and (later in life) Western painting — he has long been revered among the small group of aficionados who know their comic-strip history as an “artist’s artist,” i.e., an artist whose work other artists — greats like Milton Caniff, Alex Toth, John Romita, and Frank Robbins, as well as scores of other, lesser lights — have looked to for inspiration, instruction… and swipes! Marvel stalwart John Romita has remarked that, during the 1950s, when he was in his 20s, “the whole industry was copying from photostats of the Scorchy Smith dailies by Noel Sickles.” And now, with the publication of this book, you have an opportunity to see what all the fuss was about.

Bonus Links:

Leif Peng’s Noel Sickles Flickr Set

Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles by Leif Peng, Today’s Inspiration – introducing a week devoted to the art of Noel Sickles, with highlights from the new book.

Noel Sickles: Early Years by Leif Peng

Noel Sickles and the Art of War by Leif Peng

Alex Toth on Noel Sickles by Leif Peng

Noel Sickles: an “inquisitive, restless genius” by Leif Peng