Tuesday, April 9, 2019

John R. Neill onboard the ARGOSY

Today we're looking at one of the earliest biographical pieces written on John R. Neill - and this one was written by Neill himself. The autobiographical sketch was published in the November 8, 1930 issue of Argosy Magazine, a monthly collection and serialization of adventure stories. In many issues they had a feature called "The Men Who Make the Argosy." Below you can see and read John R. Neill's moment in the Argosy spotlight. Click on the image to enlarge for easier reading.

John R. Neill bio in ARGOSY MAGAZINE November 8, 1930.

The biographical piece is loaded with information and detail. Neill begins by discussing his early art education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and his brief stint in medical school, followed by his close friendship with fellow illustrator Joseph Clement Coll and their early careers working as newspaper artists.

Neill begins discussing his Oz career by stating, "The stage was blazing the success of L. Frank Baum's 'Wizard of Oz' at this time and for some reason the publishers lit on me to illustrate a sequel to 'The Wizard.'" Of course Neill knew of Wizard primarily from the Broadway musical first! The show was at the height of its popularity in late 1903 and 1904 when Neill began work on his first Oz book The Marvelous Land of Oz.

Neill's endpaper design showing the stars of the 1903 WIZARD OF OZ.

Neill goes on to mention that he's now entertaining his own children with the Oz books, talks of his incredible success as he moved his career to high-end magazine work from the mid-teens through the 1920s working for The Saturday Evening Post, Pictorial Review, Ladies' Home Journal, and The Delineator - and how he poured many of the magazine's lucrative paychecks into building apartments in New York City.

In the mid-'20s Neill began designing a new home for himself and his growing family in Great Neck, Long Island, but stopped work on the house project to invest in a silver mine in Mexico! Read the article above to see how THAT went.

By the November of 1930 when this article appeared the 1929 stock market crash was a year old and much of Neill's best paying (and most beautiful!) magazine work had come to an end.

We will have much more on Neill's life and career as the blog proceeds - so keep checking back. And please visit our on-line store featuring many wonderful original paintings, pen-and-inks, and other wonderful drawings by John R. Neill!

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