Book Report: The Great West in Paintings by Fred Harman (1969)

Book coverThe name of the artist from this book probably isn’t on the tip of your tongue. It’s probably further from the tip of the your tongue than even Frederic Remington if you think of artists who painted the old West.

But you probably know something of Fred Harman’s work indirectly.

Fred Harman, before he took up painting seriously, was an illustrator and cartoonist who created the comic strip Bronc Peeler. Which did not get syndicated so well, but Harman moved back east and renamed it Red Ryder, and boy, howdy, it took off. The comic was carried in a pile of newspapers, and its popularity led to comic books, novels, dozens of movies, and a television show. It made its creator rich enough to retire to Arizona to paint.

Of course, in the next century, we only know the name because of the film A Christmas Story where Ralphie wants a Red Ryder licensed product.

At any rate, about the art: It’s vistas and broncos. Probably less adeptly administered than the images by Remington, but they’re okay. It ain’t my bag, baby, as far as art goes. One thing about this volume, though, is that Harman himself wrote the text about the images, so you get the voice of the artist instead of an academic, which makes the text a little less dry.

Worth a browse during a football game if you like picture books between plays.

Books mentioned in this review: