Everyone have a full glass? Oh alright, Fester, go refill! Always something with that guy.
Okay. Everyone ready now? Let's take a look at our first artist.
I thought I would go back to one of my earliest memories of being truly enthralled (and frightened!) by a great illustrator. It was in this book:
Just the image on the cover is intriguing, isn't it? The LIFE Treasury of American Folklore was one of those oft-read books in the incredible library at my Grandmother's house (yes, that one). When we were little kids, this book was indeed a treasure, and my first experiences with Pecos Bill, fur bearing trout, and gigantic blue oxen came from its pages.
And just about every one displayed the fine work of one James Lewicki (1917-1979).
Lewicki was a prolific artist for LIFE in the 50's and 60's. His work for LIFE's 'The World We Live In' (1952-'56) was roundly praised and influential in commercial illustration.
His work for this book (1960) is truly incredible.
A vivid and nightmarish scene from Black Sam & The Haunted Treasure, a tale told by Washington Irving.
Detail from Black Sam & The Haunted Treasure.The story is that this poor fella unwittingly marries a witch who, while he is sleeping, spins her skin off to spend all night out doing witchy things. His suspicions are aroused, though, and one night he feigns sleep and while she is out, he fills her skin with salt and pepper. So when she tries to get back into her skin... yeah, it gets ugly.
I had to save the best for last, though... the story that most terrified us kids, the one most of us still talk about today, the picture that scared us so perfectly that we had to turn to it first, every time we dared take the book from the shelf, was
DE WITCH WOMAN!
Absolutely terrified us! And we begged for more!
I used to stare at it, stare at it, stare at it, trying to soak in every gory, creepy detail...