Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Carl Kidwell (1910-2003)

Carl Edmund Kidwell was born on August 8, 1910, in the southwestern Indiana town of Washington. As a child he suffered from a prolonged illness that forced an end to his formal education while he was in grade school. Kidwell held a variety of jobs as a young man, including being a painter for the B & O Railroad. (I suspect that on that job, his canvas was the size of a boxcar.) During the war years, he served as a radioman aboard the USS Indianapolis, USS Quincy, PC 608 (a patrol craft), and PC 1238 (a submarine chaser). Three of those four craft were lost, two by enemy action. Kidwell's brother, Logan Kidwell, also served on the USS Quincy. Unlike Carl, Logan Kidwell didn't come home.

Carl Kidwell's art career evidently started with the U.S. Navy. Sometime during the war, he was transferred to the staff of The Chaser, the magazine of the Submarine Chaser Training Center in Miami, Florida, where he worked as a designer and illustrator. His illustrations also appeared in the magazine Our NavyAfter the war, Carl Kidwell went to New York and began a career as a freelance illustrator, author, and teacher. The earliest credit I have found for him is work for Blue Book in May 1946. In the field of fantasy and science fiction, Kidwell illustrated "Music from Down Under" by Joe Kennedy for Other Worlds Science Stories (Oct. 1951) and "The Seamstress" by E. Everett Evans for Weird Tales (Jan. 1952). During the 1950s and '60s, he created illustrations for juvenile books of mystery, adventure, Western, and American history, including three of his own, Arrow in the Sun (1961), The Angry Earth (1964), and Granada, Surrender! (1968). Kidwell returned to fantasy in the mid-1960s with covers for the digest-sized Magazine of Horror and Startling Mystery Stories.

The last credit I have found for Carl Kidwell is illustration for Smugglers' Island by Martha C. King (1970). After a long life and career, he passed away on July 2, 2003, in New York City and was buried in his hometown, just a few blocks away from his boyhood home.

Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

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