My mind is currently full of research and ideas for my next graphic novel project, which I’m writing at the moment.
Whenever I do a period piece I soak up as many images from the era as possible. Most of the 1920s was a truly inspiring time – change was in the air, and the young people in particular embraced it. It absolutely was the beginning of what could be termed modern life.
I’ve been looking at a lot of the artwork from the 20s, including magazine covers, and I’m entranced. The above image is the February 1921 cover of French Vogue, drawn by Helen Dryden. I love the sense of Spring and languid pleasure in this image. It’s fresh, vibrant and modern – even 90 years later.
Dryden is one of those interesting women no one hears about much. She typified the spirit of the age: a self-taught artist who elbowed her way into the tough design world in New York city based on her talent. She was one of the highest paid female artists in the USA at one point.
Imagine, she designed the interiors of the 1936 Studebaker Dictator and President cars, and she was so well-known that the advertisements for it proclaimed in big letters “It’s styled by Helen Dryden”. Yet, she died relatively unknown and poor in 1981.
This is something I try to do in my stories: scoop up the lost and forgotten people, or the intriguing events, and give them a new home and life in my work.
I doubt I’ll have a space for Dryden in this project, but I’ll keep her in mind for future ones. She deserves to sparkle anew.