Tag Archives | vintage ads

The Curious Case of Toulouse Le Grandfig, Graphic Designer (Part One)


File #: 12-23571-X
Dr. Abe Cornelius
Bellevue Hospital — Psychiatric Triage Center

Entry 1: Dictated: April 25, 1951

The patient was brought into the hospital by several co-workers, including his immediate supervisor at Vandelay, Alderson, Pentergrast, Ilterton and Deckard, a mid-sized advertising company on Madison Avenue.

The Creative Director, Mr. Hillary Scott, introduced Mr. Grandfig to me, and said he was not only a renowned Dadaist, but that he had been working at his firm since late 1949 as a graphic artist.

It is worth examining Mr. Grandfig’s work history to get a sense of the progress of his current disorder.

When Grandfig began working at Vandelay, Alderson, Pentergrast, Ilterton and Deckard (VAPID), he claimed to have arrived in New York from “distant lands” and needed to earn some money. He began working on the Petri account, which needed an “offbeat” touch. According to Mr. Scott, “Toulouse had a great feel for the material, and the odd touches tickled the fancy of our client.”

[See Figure 1:]
Figure One: Rodents in cowboy boots

Mr. Scott added: “The Petri campaign was quite successful, though frankly, all those rodents wearing cowboy boots were kind of disturbing.”

Next Grandfig was put to work on the Arrow Shirts campaign, which was not as successful. Though he did not actually write the copy on this ad, Mr. Grandfig did inspire it with his artwork.

[See figure 2:]
Repressed homosexuality

According to Mr. Scott: “This ad was trying to show how free you feel wearing Arrow Shirts, but frankly, it just screams to me of repressed homosexuality. That’s probably why our client liked it so much.”

Side note for later: examine possibilities of paper exploring how psychiatric terms have entered common parlance to the denigration of our profession.

From there he was put on the Jantzen account, for which Grandfig painted a number of lovely women sporting Jantzen’s clingy (and to this psychiatrist’s mind) deviant bathing wear. This went well up until sometime late in January, when Mr. Grandfig replaced the copy on the ad with his own.

[See figure 3:]
Terrfied sunbather

What other survivors is he writing of? Survivors of the war? Are these troubling images the result of some kind of trauma suffered under the Nazis? I must explore this issue in depth.

After this gaffe, Grandfig was not given any more lettering work. Left with no actual language, Grandfig clearly subsumed his rage and paranoia into his actual artwork. One glance at these paintings for the Van Camp corporation will reveal the sinister and depraved undercurrent to his thoughts.

[Figure 4:]

None as alarming as this actual artwork, which Mr. Scott mimeographed for my records. [Figure 5.] Notice the label. Instead of saying “Van Camp’s Pork and Beans”, it clearly reads “Van Camp’s Long-Pork and Beans”. Luckily, Mr. Scott caught this artwork before it went into production.

“Actually, I was torn on whether to stop it or not,” Mr. Scott told me in our interview.

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes, I thought it would be amusing to see what would happen. To see if anyone caught the reference.”

“But you decided against that?”

“Yes, but I have the original hanging in my office. It’s quite brilliant.”

Putting Mr. Scott’s artistic proclivities to the side for the moment, it must be pointed out that long-pork is a reference to cannibalism. Has Grandfig been a participant or witness to such a morally proscribed event? Perhaps the other “survivors” he spoke of have done such a thing. I have heard it was difficult in Europe after the war, but I had no idea it was so serious. Perhaps it only happened in Belgium.

Next, he was caught sneaking into the lettering room to change the text on this advert for some grocery firm.

[Figure 6:]
Your Meat Team

According to Mr. Scott, the issue was brought to a head when this advert for a Chase & Sanborn product went to press, was put on the product, and very nearly went to market.

[Figure 7:]
You can smell the rich baby flavor!

Mr. Scott felt it was safest to bring Grandfig to the hospital for his own safety as well as that of his firm, VAPID.

According to Scott: “I’m pretty sure the copy writers were going to kill him if he changed any more of their work.”

Continued in tomorrow.

Many health care professionals are concerned about the proclivities of this funny firm.Originally published, June, 2008.

Vintage Ads of Fictional Futures, Mark II

Vintage Ads of Fictional FuturesIt’s back!

This contest ran a couple of years ago, and it was a lot of fun, so let’s do it again.

Here’s the concept: find a vintage ad, and then create a product from a created world — it can be from a book, movie, TV, etc. It doesn’t have to be science fiction; you could go with a fantasy world, an alternate reality, whatever. The only proviso is that it has to have been written by someone else, so none of your own bizarre fictional futures. Here’s a couple I mocked up, based on the grim post-apocalyptic THE ROAD and the less-grim, but still post-apocalyptic THE POSTMAN (both books worth reading, btw):

The Road - portable meal systems The Genius of America - postman spoof

It doesn’t have to be post-apocalyptic, by the way. If you’re more of an optimistic Star Trek kind of person, then I’m happy to see Oil of Olay ads featuring Warf, scotch ads with Scotty, or ear-hair trimming systems endorsed by Quark.

Here are the finalists from last time to help you get the idea.

Or you can in a gallery here“>check out the gallery for this year’s contest is here.

How to enter:

  1. create your masterpiece (a jpg, png, pfd or gif, please)
  2. post it to your blog, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous … or just email it to me
  3. let me know about it (including the work it’s based on), in the comments, by email (markarayner-at-gmail-dot-com) or Twitter (@markarayner) — let me know who to credit, and include your website if you watn
  4. they will go in a gallery here, and I’ll update the blog periodically too
  5. do it by midnight, Monday October 4th
  6. wait for the aplomb and/or ridicule of your peers
  7. I’ll narrow it down to a shortlist of five, and then everyone can vote on those.

The Prizes:

The winner chooses from:

  • a walk-on appearance in the novel I’m currently working on (this will be the last chance for a year at least)
  • a tshirt from either of my shops, CafePress or Wordans

The runner up:

  • whatever the winner didn’t choose

All five finalists:

All entrants:

Some things that may help
Vintage Ads at Livejournal
Vintage Ads search results at Flickr

Go be awesome!

Alltop is instantly vintage. Wiki: synopsis of The Road, and plot outline of The Postman

Finalists: Vintage Ads of Fictional Futures

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a weasel — I couldn’t pick three out of the thirty excellent submissions on the gallery. I had trouble getting it down to ten, and there are still some that I wish I could include. Here is the short list of finalists, and a web thingy you can vote with — remember, you can pick your favourite three! (You can click on the thumbnails for a larger view.)

(And if any of the artists would like to explain why their submission is superior, please feel free to do so in the comments.)


Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster


Blish universe


the spice must flow


Fahrenheit 451


Amana Palanquin is Best




Do bosses dream of electric secretaries?


Soma was served

Nexus 6



Holodeck with Hitler

There are prizes!

What, pray tell is the prize? Well, if you win, you can choose from:

  • a prominent walk-on role in my next novel
  • a copy of THE AMADEUS NET
  • a “mystery” item from within the bowels of my desk.

The second-place winner will choose from the remaining prizes, and the bronze winner gets whatever is left.

Voting ends at 8 am, April 28th!

The full gallery of entries is here. Everyone from humor-blogs.com is invited to vote early and often.

Contest update: Vintage Ads of Fictional Futures

The last updates are on the gallery page.

Thanks to everyone who has put together a product, service or concept from a fictional future with a vintage ad — there are 30 entries all told, and boy the judging is going to be tough. I’ll post the finalists tomorrow morning, and then let you all vote on who wins. What are the stakes? Well, they’re listed below.

In an effort to keep this page from crashing again, I’ve done a collage of just a few of the entries. Click on it, or here, to see all 30 entries:

Vintage Ads of Fictional Futures

The Rules:

So, find some vintage ads, and then insert a product from a fictional future — it can be from a book, movie, TV, etc. The only proviso is that it has to have been written by someone else, so none of your own bizarre fictional futures. (Someone else’s bizarre future is fine, so all you William S. Burroughs fans are not barred from competition.)

  1. create your masterpiece
  2. post it to your blog
  3. link to this post (or better yet, let me know where it is via email or in the comments)
  4. wait for the aplomb and/or ridicule of your peers.

There are prizes!

What, pray tell is the prize? Well, if you win, you can choose from:

  • a prominent walk-on role in my next novel
  • a copy of THE AMADEUS NET
  • a “mystery” item from within the bowels of my desk.

The second-place winner will choose from the remaining prizes, and the bronze winner gets whatever is left. Worth playing for? The contest will run until (Sunday, April 20).

You may want to check out plan59.com or Flickr or Photobucket for inspiration.

You can find my original post about this here. All the artists at humor-blogs.com are invited!