Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blast from the Past #352: John Morrison in a biplane

I can't remember exactly WHY I drew this, but I do seem to recall that it depicts -- in a somewhat unrealistic, cartoony way, of course -- an event in the life of local theater owner John Morrison. The details are, at this late date, pretty vague in my mind, but I think it had something to with his having to get on a small plane to bring a print of a certain movie to show in his independent movie house, the Pleasant Street Theater.

John actually gave me several of my best gigs as an illustrator back in the late 1970's and early 1980's. I got to do several posters for his theater, including my favorites, "They Came from the 50's!" and "Thrilling Hepburn Tales" (I'll have to dig that one out and post it sometime). The Pleasant Street Theater still exists in downtown Northampton, showing movies you usually can't get to see at the bigger cinemas. I am not sure if John is still associated with it.

One fun thing about this drawing that I realized as I was getting it ready to post here is that there are some Northampton-specific details in the background which are fairly close to reality. That's the Coolidge Bridge over the Connecticut River, and I even got Route 91 and the exit from it onto Route 9 in there, along with some of the buildings just over the bridge. (I somehow missed the railroad bridge -- which is now a key part of the bicycle path to Amherst -- that lies just north, almost within a stone's throw, of the Coolidge Bridge. D'oh!) -- PL


Mark H said...

Very neat Mr. Laird. I just love the look of the airplane. All the patchwork and holes on the wings makes it look like it would be a frightening ride. From the Expression on Mr. Morrison's face I would say he is very frightened. This is a really fun drawing. I would not worry about missing the railroad bridge to much. It was the 80's. We all did things back then that we cant understand now. Heck, you should have seen my hair back then.

Miserable Dreamer said...

Cool drawing! I love seeing some of these early freelance gigs. We end up doing some strange stuff, freelancing, but sometimes a client comes along who throws a bunch of stuff at us.

Your illustrations have a very strong "constructed" quality. I think this is why your toy designs always look so good. The drawings have such a solid look to them. I like all the detailed rivets in the plane.

I snuck some local details into the children's book I illustrated. What started out as fun ended up with me becoming more and more frustrated trying to get the construction details on the bridge right!

Anonymous said...

Remember walking over the railroad bridge when still an active train track? It was/is a looong bridge. I remember we were looking down through the ties at the water trying to figure out where we'd stand (or jump!) if a train should come along!