A website devoted to the rediscovery of the works of early 20th century illustrator Henry E. Vallely (1881-1950). Perhaps best known for his chiaroscuro technique employed in Big Little Books, he also produced a large volume of work including fashion illustrations for women's magazines, spot illustrations for food periodicals, magazine covers and children's books. His art is distinctive and timeless and deserves the recognition that has until this time eluded it. Comments and contributions towards the preservation of the H. E. Vallely legacy are most welcome. All images are believed to be in the public domain unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Western Round Up

In his later years Henry Valley was finding work illustrating stories in Zane Grey's Western Magazine, but he was by no means unfamiliar with the genre. Two-Gun Montana, Tom Mix and the Hoard of Montezuma and The Lone Ranger Follows Through were just a few of the Big Little Books his artwork accompanied in the late 1930's and early 1940's. His work for Zane Grey was generally two drawing per 7½" x 5¼" page, with a slightly larger image for the splash. The level of detail for these illustrations was greater than that found in his Big Little work, but not as embellished as his drawings for Whitman's Authorized Editions. Both of the above pieces are from 1947. The top one illustrated Carl Smith's Tom Rynning's Long Ride from Vol. 1, No. 2. The bottom one illustrated Smith's Uncle Billy and the Doolin Gang from Vol. 1, No. 4.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Girl and Her Dog

Most of Henry Vallely’s employers were based in his home state of Illinois, and the Burson Knitting Company was no exception. Of the three illustrations he did for their Fashioned Hose line that I’m aware of, this one features perhaps the most wholesome looking young lady. While this trait was common in his line drawings for Big Little Books and Whitman Authorized Editions, the women he painted for his advertising work are often of a more matronly appearance, at least to these 21st century eyes. This piece comes from a March Good Housekeeping of an unknown year (best guess, 1919).

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Saturday, May 27, 2006


Everygirls, the official magazine of the Camp Fire Girls, was one of the first publications produced for young girls. In addition to being its cover artist from 1930 to 1933, he also contributed the occasional spot illustration. This striking cover is from May of 1930.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Gang Busters! (Secret Origins of Batman Part 1)

My first encounter with the work of Henry Vallely occurred around 1986 while attending one of Bruce Schwartz’s conventions at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. My friend Dan Riba picked up one of the Big Little Books a vendor had on the table and started flipping through the pages. He pointed out one of the illustrations and asked me if it looked familiar. We were both lifelong comic book fans and were well versed in the “classics” of the golden and silver age so within a heartbeat I realized that we were looking at a swipe from Detective Comics #33 from November of 1939, specifically the panel in which Bruce Wayne contemplates the nature of criminals (“… a superstitious and cowardly lot…”). Or so we thought. As it turned out, the copyright of the book (Gang Busters In Action, BLB 1451) was 1938 and we realized that it was Bob Kane who had done the swiping! Further perusal revealed at least a half dozen other poses familiar to Batfans, some of which I plan to upload in the future. In the meantime, compare the two for yourself.
Bruce Wayne is © DC Comics.

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