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The man behind Mr.Peanut also seems to have made beautiful illustrations for car advertisements: Cold Start

The man behind Mr.Peanut also seems to have made beautiful illustrations for car advertisements: Cold Start
The man behind Mr.Peanut also seems to have made beautiful illustrations for car advertisements: Cold Start

You know Mr. Peanut, don’t you? Tall, slender, wears the trappings of wealth (monocle, top hat, cane, spats), has a colossal peanut body? Sure, you know him! Good guy. Be that as it may, one of the people supposedly involved in his design, Elmer Stoner, was also a remarkably talented commercial artist who worked for Franklin, the early 20th century American automaker that specialized in air-cooled engines. This series of illustrations for Franklin advertisements caught my attention due to their unusual grace and beauty. And as you may know, if aesthetics sufficiently touch me, I am contractually obligated to share the reason for my infatuation with all of you, so, here we are.

Before we get into the Franklin issue, I should mention that Elmer Stoner was also notable for being one of the first black comic book artists and even Detective Comics 1which marked the beginning of the series that eventually became Batman 26 episodes later.

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But more on that later. Let’s go back to 1929, to Stoner’s Franklin advertisement:

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Stoner was obviously interested in the women who surrounded the car, but this Franklin is also beautifully portrayed. It is remarkable how many aircraft references and comparisons are made to the Franklin, which fits; the air-cooled engine Was more common in airplanes, and Franklin made extensive use of aluminum more than any other automobile manufacturer at the time, another very aviation-inspired feature.

Also look at the way the sky is depicted. I love it, for all its abstract weirdness.

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Here we have an advert from 1930, again with a prominent woman, but also a dog, one of those slim Afghan hounds that are popular with rich people. I think? Maybe it’s a greyhound? Whatever it is, it’s slim and probably fast.

Also note that they mention the “gracefully curved hood front” – the term “hood front” was Franklin’s name for the false radiator that served as an air intake for the air cooling system.

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These Franklin 130 series cars had some of the first straight-six engines on the market. Also note how the sky is treated; we’ll see more of that later. Also, we’re still with the prominent women in the foreground, in this case a skier.

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Another skier, this one apparently Completed with these skis, however. The text mentions speeds of 80 miles per hour that the Franklins, which had 100 horsepower engines in 1930, could reach. Those were fast cars!

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Hey, look! It seems like the Almighty himself came down to shine on that car and that hatch over there. Stoner has a lot of fun with heaven, but I think here he really enjoys heaven to the fullest:

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Look at that; the sky has become almost a cubist masterpiece, with areas of color broken up into flat planes and shapes; and look at the leaves on that branch too! I love that they’re all geometric too!

Good stuff.

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