Who says drawing comics won’t take you anywhere?
Everett Raymond Kinstler is one of America’s most respected artists. He has painted the portraits of seven United States presidents, and his portraits of Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan were used as the official White House portraits for their respective terms in office.
But he didn’t start out painting Presidents in the White House.
When he was just 16 years old, Kinstler started out drawing western, horror and superhero comics in the 1940s and ’50s. Here’s a great cover from issue #22 of Avon Publications’ Jesse James, released in 1955.
Unfortunately, the damaged comics market of the mid ’50s eliminated a lot of work (Avon Publications gave up publishing comics about a year later and lots of others went out of business), but Kinstler always had his eye on other work. Having developed his skills in comics, he used that experience to move into book illustrations and finally portraits. He’s painted the portraits of John Wayne, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, along with Supreme Court Justices, senators, governors, and more. He’s won the prestigious Copley Award from the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and received honorary doctorates.
After all of the celebrities and acclaim, he’s still proud of his comics and pulp magazine roots. Opening March 10, an exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum will feature his early comics work as part of a thorough examination of his entire career, right up to work done as recently as December 2011.