Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Louis Darling

Anyone who grew up in the 70's probably knows about the books of Beverly Cleary, especially stuff like Ramona The Pest and Runaway Ralph. But the thing I loved and still love about those books was the art of Louis Darling. While trying to do a bit web reserch on the guy, I was amazed at how little information I could find. I'd consider him a big influence as far as my artwork goes.
His stuff always had a sense of movement and fun.
I was always impressed by how simple yet detailed his art was.
And his expressions could not be beat.


It's sad that publishers are replacing Darling's artwork with new "modern" art to keep the book up to date. They're missing the point. The thing I loved about the books were their sense of nostagia. Even as a kid reading them in the 1970's, I knew they where about a time and a place long gone. But I didn't mind, and I doubt kids today would either.

34 comments:

Shivers said...

These are just wonderful... so delighted you posted them as I'd never heard of the guy!
See... that's me showing my comic ignorance :S

xxx Shivers

Mishka said...

Kudos! Randomly searching for an image from this book and I forgot how great these pics were. Thanks for posting them.

X840321 said...

Right on; I remember reading about 'Beezus and Henry way back when. Never knew the artist's name though; recognized Ribsy right off though.

Thanks for the recall and info. :)

Anonymous said...

Yes!
I wanted to write a children's book with illustrations just like Louis Darling. Irreplaceable! Does anyone else have information on this artist?
Thank you for reading my mind!!
Aloha,
ikia

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Louis Darling died in 1970. The closest thing I've seen to his style is the on Monopoly game "chance" and "community chest" cards, and illustrations of J.R.R. Tolkien (who actually did artwork for his own books, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings.) No, I don't think one imitated the other, but there's definitely a similar influence. Apparently that style of illustrating was popular in the first half of the Twentieth Century.
I read the whole Henry Huggins series when I was either in 6th grade or junior high back in the mid 1970s. After seeing the new illustrations, I totally agreed that they lack the pinache.
I'm glad to see fellow Louis Darling lovers. I'd love to see this art style revived. For that matter, I'd love to Beverly Cleary's style of writing preserved long after she is gone (yes, she's still alive and has written recent books.)

Mjx said...

Louis Darling's work was brilliant, really had a sense of children; no sentiment. I was completely miserable when I saw the new illustrations in the Cleary books; it isn't just that I don't care for the style, but the work is weak.
I'm really hoping posterity will get around to recognizing Darling's work.

LClark said...

Hello- Thanks for the blog entry on Louis Darling and Beverly Cleary. As a kid I named by springer spaniel "Ribsy." These books are classics. I was just creating my favorite books page at work today and came across your blog entry and photos. Check it out at: http://www.davis.k12.ut.us/staff/loclark/favoritebooks.html

My other one is at: http://lorenclark.blogspot.com/2007/12/favorite-books.html

Thanks again!
-Loren

Anonymous said...

I've read Beverly Cleary's books before, and I have to agree with you: I like Louis Darling's illustration better than Alan Tiegreen's. What I like about Louis' illustrations is his ability to show the emotions of each character.

I tried find info on Louis Darling, but unfortunately, I could not find much, except for the following link posted below:

http://special.lib.umn.edu/findaid/xml/CLRC-17.xml

KT said...

Louis Darling was a cousin of my mother's. He was the eldest of three brothers, the second died as an aviator in WW II, the youngest is or was a physician.

I know shamefully little about him except for my mother's memories, which were affectionate and admiring of an older and talented cousin. The families were close when she was young. She remembered that he had an early interest in drawing and in the natural world. I was unaware of his connection to the Beverly Cleary books until yesterday, when my daughter pointed out his name on a book of her son's! I did have a picturebook about a wild duck, written and illustrated by Louis Darling, titled "Greenhead," and I remember our family's pride when Rachel Carson sought him to illustrate "Silent Spring." I believe that, for a time at least, the Darling family lived in or around Stamford, Connecticut.

aimee said...

This is great! I had actually pulled that illustration of beezus, ramona and the chair our of a book last night and framed it because I am so taken with it (along with the halloween witch chasing the kids page from the same book)

Great post! The new illustrations are not nearly as charming.

sewducky said...

Little late, but these books, and the illustrations meant so much to me. I wanted a dress because of Darling's drawings, and I wound up getting a tattoo of his work recently.

Ramona certainly isn't the same without Darling.

Anonymous said...

I am thrilled that so many people feel the same way that I do about the art of Louis Darling. As a child of the 60s/70s, I grew up on the Cleary series and read them all through Ramona the Pest.

As far as I was concerned, the Darling illustrations were an essential component. When I began to re-buy them for my own children, I was shocked and dismayed to find that his work had been replaced, resulting in my boycotting the newer titles (sorry Ms. Cleary) and going to a great deal of trouble to secure older editions of the books.

Thanks to all for posting the info!

Anonymous said...

I am thrilled that so many people feel the same way that I do about the art of Louis Darling. As a child of the 60s/70s, I grew up on the Cleary series and read them all through Ramona the Pest.

As far as I was concerned, the Darling illustrations were an essential component. When I began to re-buy them for my own children, I was shocked and dismayed to find that his work had been replaced, resulting in my boycotting the newer titles (sorry Ms. Cleary) and going to a great deal of trouble to secure older editions of the books.

Thanks to all for posting the info!

Marchbanks said...

What makes Louis Darling's work so much more remarkable is the sheer amount of it he had published during a relatively short life (he died at age 53). The Cleary series aside, he did illustration work for a whole raft of other books and authors.

Anonymous said...

Excellent. I have always been a huge fan of Louis Darling's work, especially when coupled with Beverly Cleary's writing. He was certainly one of the best artists ever; timeless and classic.

He and Robert McCloskey were always my favorites. I could stare at there drawings for hours.

Anonymous said...

I found a biography of Louis Darling here: http://special.lib.umn.edu/findaid/xml/CLRC-17.xml

Anonymous said...

I was born on the 70's but I know about this famous writer. I loved her books and even better is Ramona. My husband prefers to spend his time visiting
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Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with you about the art replacements. I got a slew of Ramona books on my Kindle, not knowing about the 'new art', and already disliking the new covers. Had I not know the art inside was the same art as the art on the covers, I never would've purchased the titles. Don't get me wrong, the new art is adorable and well-done, but it just ain't Ramona.

Anonymous said...

Kudos(posthumously)to Louis Darling for his unforgettable images of childhood.
I was a a young teacher in the 60's and first discovered Beverly Cleary's books while choosing a story to read to my third graders.
Her story lines are priceless.
My favorite:Henry & the Paper route :-)
THANKS FOR PROVIDING THIS FORUM.

Anonymous said...

I too grew up with the Darling-illustrated books in the '70s--I absolutely loathe the Tiegreen drawings, it's as though they went of their way to make all the characters as ugly as possible, with those tiny beady eyes, Ramona's flat bowl cut that had absolutely no life whatsoever--horrible! She is so much cuter and more lively in the original drawings.

Kristen said...

I was just thinking about this this week as my son is getting into the Henry Huggins books. The copy of Ribsy we had had the original illustrations, the copy of Henry Huggins is a new one with new art, and I miss the Louis Darling drawings.

Lisa said...

Oh how nice to find this blog entry about Louis Darling. I grew up in the 80's but I was fortunate enough that my public library had all the older editions of Beverly Cleary's books and they of course had all the Louis Darling illustrations. I absolutely love the way he drew Henry and Beezus and especially Ramona; not picture perfect and rosy-cheeked (of course his drawings were b & w but you know what I mean) but with all the little imperfections that real children have.

That was never more true than with Ramona. In one of the Henry Huggins books she got a hold of some bubble gum and it got stuck in her hair. The only way her mother knew to get it out was to cut her hair. According to her big sister Beezus later on Ramona got a hold of the scissors and cut her hair herself because she "wanted to be bald like her Uncle Jack". And Darling drew Ramona with a hideous-looking jagged haircut, complete with bald spot and all. I loved that.

Another good illustrator of Cleary books was the team of Beth and Joe Krush; they did the illustrations for Cleary's teen books like 'Sister of the Bride', 'Fifteen' and 'Jean and Johnny'. They drew in a different style than Darling but they were very good too. I agree with everyone else's comments here regarding Alan Tiegreen's work. I don't like his drawings at all, they pale in comparison to Darling and the Krushes.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments about Darling. My interest in him is the illustrations he did for some of Roderick Haig-Brown's fishing books. As far as I know, his books were the only ones Darling illustrated with a fishing theme. They are outstanding both for Roderick Haig-Brown's writing and Darling's illustrations, which are some of the best I have seen. I love how he handles water, trees, and figures. I see that some of the illustrations for A River Never Sleeps, are in the University of Minnesota.

He also did oil paintings of hunting and fishing but I like his ink work better. Does anyone know he he ever use scratchboard?

Does anyone know any more about his fishing or hunting scenes or how he came to do Haig-Brown's fishing books?

WH

Anonymous said...

http://www.pbagalleries.com/search/item_img.php?acq_no=121074

This shows 3 of his covers.

WH

Andrew said...

My name is Andrew Darling, and Louis Darling was my great uncle (my grandfather's brother.)I never met him, being born in the late '90's, so all that I know of him is from my parents, aunts, uncles, and my grandfather.

There were three brothers- Louis, Lockwood, and David- (my Grandpa.) They were born and raised mostly in Conneticuit, and Louis and Lockwood were both in the military. Lockwood died in the air force in WWII, Louis eventually went on to become an illustrator, and my grandfather was a miilitary physician, and died a few moths ago. My family now has many scrapbooks of my grandfather's that have a whole lot of information about Louis- all his letters from in the military, pictures, and more. My dad could probably say a lot more, but that's all I have off the top of my head.

I agree that his illustrations are much much better than the new ones. We have had many of the original books, and I've read many of them. But the new books just don't have the same feel. Thank you all so much for posting this; it really makes me feel cool that someone I'm related to is so famous and cherished by others.

Andrew said...

My name is Andrew Darling, and Louis Darling was my great uncle (my grandfather's brother.)I never met him, being born in the late '90's, so all that I know of him is from my parents, aunts, uncles, and my grandfather.

There were three brothers- Louis, Lockwood, and David- (my Grandpa.) They were born and raised mostly in Conneticuit, and Louis and Lockwood were both in the military. Lockwood died in the air force in WWII, Louis eventually went on to become an illustrator, and my grandfather was a miilitary physician, and died a few moths ago. My family now has many scrapbooks of my grandfather's that have a whole lot of information about Louis- all his letters from in the military, pictures, and more. My dad could probably say a lot more, but that's all I have off the top of my head.

I agree that his illustrations are much much better than the new ones. We have had many of the original books, and I've read many of them. But the new books just don't have the same feel. Thank you all so much for posting this; it really makes me feel cool that someone I'm related to is so famous and cherished by others.

Anonymous said...

Hello. My name is Cliff Darling and Louis Darling was my uncle. My son Andrew just posted a comment. I met Louis when I was a child; he died when I was a teenager. I am thrilled to see that anyone remembers him.

I agree with all the comments about the new Cleary covers. The original illustrations were definitely the “charm” of those books. I have many of them, and many of his Nature books. He was an early environmentalist, what in those days they called a “Naturalist” so he did a great number of those books. Some he also authored as well as illustrated. His specialty was birds. He was an expert on birds. Many people don’t know this, but Louis did the illustrations for the book “Silent Spring”, by Rachel Carson. He was well known for his bird illustrations at the time, so he was a natural choice.

He enjoyed doing the Cleary books, but my Dad always said that Louis hated drawing hands. I don’t see that in those illustrations, but that’s what my Dad said.

My dad considered Louis the most sensitive of the three brothers. Louis was also in the military during WWII, as a photographer and illustrator. He was in England at the time of his brother Lockwood’s death. My father, David, was much younger than his brothers. Lockwood was David’s hero, and “Locky’s” death affected him greatly. When my father died recently, I inherited books full of letters that Louis wrote home during the war.

Louis and his wife Lois (we pronounced them “Lou-ee and Low-ee”) had no children, but loved their dogs. I remember that they had a great big Lab when I visited as a child.

My sisters have some of his oil paintings, which I always thought were excellent, too. If you really want to see the wit of the man, find his book: “The Sea Serpents Around Us”. It’s a great tale about how Sea Serpents decided to pretend to be extinct so that humans would leave them alone. Fantastic drawings of Sea Serpents. The book is probably out of print, but you might be able to locate one.

I would be glad to try and answer any questions about my uncle. YOu can respond to my son Andrew's email address. Sincerely, Cliff Darling.

Gillian said...

Very good to read posts from relatives of Louis Darling. It saddens me to think of him losing his brother, having no children and dying so young. But I am grateful for his legacy in the Cleary books--which remain some of my favourite children's books of all times (Ribsy was one of the first books that made me cry.) Darling's characters are classics---unsentimental, affectionate, funny. His line work is enviable. His composition clean and effective. I loved these books and see Cleary and Darling as the Dahl and Blake of America--a gorgeous symbiosis of writer and illustrator.

Anonymous said...

FYI

http://jamesdjulia.com/auctions/catalog_detail_shots.asp?Details=23486&sale=305&lot=2105

LOUIS DARLING (American, 1916-1970) FLY FISHING FOR RAINBOW TROUT. Fine watercolor fishing scene shows a fisherman wading in river having rocky banks. A recently hooked rainbow trout is jumping in rapids with tight line leading to a fisherman's fly rod. Signed lower left. Housed in a modern gilt frame with white matte. SIZE: Sight: 13-1/2" x 19-1/2". PROVENANCE: Robert Frederick Woolworth Estate, Monmouth, Maine. (F.W. Woolworth Store). CONDITION: Very good. 9-23486 (1,000-2,000)

WH

Well Read said...

I am a huge fan of Louis Darling. I sort of understand why they changed the illustrators for the new editions, IE: newer is better, but maybe they should change up the stories in the Bible, sorta jazzercize them, maybe have Noah listening to his Ipod while he saws wood with his Black and Decker. I hated the Disneyfied Winnie the Pooh too: I imagine Milne was throwing up in his coffin when he saw those horrible images. Bless Shepard and Darling and if you buy the books, get the originals. Thanks for posting. Wellread@aol.com

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Anonymous said...

The Louis Darling illos in Beverly Cleary's books go hand in hand. I hate that they've removed them from the books, those delicate yet robust works are far superior to those that replaced them. I too, grew up with them in the 60's and 70s and had no problem with them being from another period in time, in fact I liked that. Timeless is a word the publishers are probably unfamiliar with, but that's what these illos are, classic, classy and timeless.

Aritul said...

While I had seen his work long before, I just learned his name today. I simply adore those kind of drawings, if only for the nostalgic feeling that they evoke. Are there are any more artists who draw/drew in a similar style? Thanks.

Unknown said...

I only just discovered this publishing "crime" last week, when I went to purchase a few Ramona books for my niece, and I must say, my anger and disgust and distress over this act of betrayal has consumed me all week. You are SO dead on, that even reading them in the early 70s one recognized them as belonging to another era, but also realizing that IT DIDN'T MATTER. The Darling illustrations were absolutely perfect, that scowling, inky, jump-off-the-page Ramona has stayed with me all these years. (I especially adored the one of her beating her heels against her bedroom wall in the "dawnzer" scene) WHAT was that publisher thinking? The "updated" illustrations depict a Ramona that is bland, innocuous, anodyne, and boring. The Cleary/Darling marriage was simply perfect. A pox on the publisher for breaking it up