"Mennen Brushless Shave Advertisement"   Lot no. 3121

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By Norman Mingo (1896-1980)

1943 (Estimated)
19.00" x 13.00"
Watercolor on Paper

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This piece was created during World War II for Esquire magazine. At this time the pin-up illustrator of Alberto Vargas. Asquire was the predecessor to Playboy. All commercial art for pin-up girls ceased during 1950's so this is the last of its kind. Vargas was ill at the time and Esquire needed a pin-up girl picture, so they asked Norman Mingo. He signed his namebeneath the picture, but Esquire did not want to admit that Vargas had not painted it and ask him to remove his signature. It can be seen through any kind of infrared and can be appraised as an original signed Mingo painting. 

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Best known for his illustration portraits of Alfred E Neuman, Norman Mingo was an illustrator for "Mad Magazine". He also worked for Pocket Books doing paperback covers and did sexy pin-ups for men's magazines, as well as story art for "American Weekly", "Ladies' Home Journal" and "Pictorial Review". He also did paper dolls of Deanna Durbin but in the mid 1950s made his landmark drawings of Neuman for Mad Magazine, after Mingo (on paper) had retired from having worked for that company for 20 years.

The name, Alfred E Neuman, was not original to Mingo as it was the name of a known musical conductor and a similar face had appeared on patent medicine labels in the early 20th century. Neuman's expression "What Me Worry" had also been around on political propaganda. And when Mad started using both the name and the face, editors did not combine them in one character.

"So prolific were pre-Mad uses of the face, that when the magazine was sued for copyright infringement (twice, once based on a 1914 copyright and the other on a 1936 one), its major defense was to show the court that the plaintiffs had copied it from even earlier sources. Cartoonists who used it include George McManus (creator of Bringing Up Father), Frederick Burr Opper (creator of Happy Hooligan), Eugene "Zim" Zimmerman (with credits at Puck, Judge, Life and elsewhere), and a host of toon practitioners who neglected to sign their names. Actual human beings said to resemble Alfred E. Neuman include Prince Charles, Ted Koppel, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush".

In 1956, when the editors of "Mad Magazine" decided to make Neuman their mascot, Norman Mingo created the three-dimensional character, basing part of the face on a postcard line-drawing portrait that Harvey Kurtzman, "Mad's" editor, had used earlier. Mingo's painting became the standard for all subsequent renderings of Neuman, and when Mingo died in 1980, the work for which he was most known and remains best known is Neuman who appeared on every cover of "Mad" magazine for half a century.








http://www.americanartarchives.com/mingo.htmPeter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"
http://www.toonopedia.com/alfred_e.htm, Donald D. Markstein.




Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"

(Via AskArt)