Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Art of Nell Brinkley

Throughout the teens, twenties, and early thirties, Nell Brinkley was about as big a name as there was in the world of cartooning and illustration. Brinkley’s independent-minded and always pretty heroines pirouetted, waltzed, shimmied, and vamped their way through various adventures – often with a dashing young man by their side.

I don't think she ever drew Louise Brooks, but she certainly drew a number of silent film stars. Early in her career Brinkley drew actresses like Mae Murray, Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish, as well as entertainers like Irene Castle, Evelyn Nesbit, and the Dolly Sisters. Other of her characters (though not identified as such) bear a strong resemblance to silent stars Ronald Colman, Nils Asther, John Gilbert, and others.

Brinkley's work is the subject of a new book, The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley’s Cartoons, 1913-1940 (Fantagraphics). My illustrated article on the book can be found at

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