Friday, February 12, 2016

Hal Foster’s happy memories of the Ben Day dot

1 [1921] HIGH SKILL REQUIRED. The Ben Day Department at Jahn & Ollier Engraving in Chicago.

Those first engravings were beautiful things. They had Ben Day process then and those Ben Day men were artists — they could get the colors. Then they got cheaper and cheaper and now finally there’s no Ben Day work at all now. They use a different process that’s cheaper and not nearly so good.
 — Hal Foster 1971
DESIGNER Phil Normand — master restorer of classic Edgar Rice Burroughs dust jackets — corrects Hal Foster’s memory in his 2013 article article Tarzan and the Ben Day Men, or The Mechanics of Color in the Sunday Comic

In the early ’20s Prince Valiant creator Hal Foster (1892-1982) worked at the Chicago engraving firm of Jahn & Ollier.¶¶¶
“Benday” eventually became generic for mechanically applied dot patterns. There were other ways to do the mechanicals for comic color. — Phil Normand 2013¶¶¶
Read Phil Normand’s article HERE.

Another article from 1914:
2 [1914] Exhibit of Color Print Art pays tribute to work done by The Herald. Display of Ben Day Process Feature of Graphic Arts Exposition, in New York Herald, April 20, p.20. 

And Guy Lawley HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely stuff!
    Thanks for that John.
    Phil Normand's post, which you linked to there, was important source / starting point for me in my researches into Ben Day dots.
    There is a bit of a muddle about what is lithographic and what is letterpress printing though.
    I have to say that the Jack Adler story, as referred to by Phil N, is all very confused.
    Partly because a lot of it comes from interviews Jack Adler gave at age 91.
    I'm not saying Adler was confused.
    Just very imprecise.
    And someone decided at some point that Adler introduced a new process based on photographic or halftone separations which was used to colour all comics including Prince Valiant from about 1938 onwards.
    This is simply not true.
    It's confusion arising from Adler's later (mid-50s) DC covers where he did use halftones and greys to very good effect.
    Covers only though.
    Quite a different process from anything used inside the comics.
    I hope to cut through this confusion with some facts in Part 7 or so!
    Not that I have nearly all the facts.
    Cos this stuff just hasn't been written about with any clarity as far as I know.
    Any contemporary evidence gratefully accepted.
    And yes, I have Russ Winterbotham's pamphlet on comics production from 1946!
    ~~Guy Lawley