The Illustrated Man: Midcentury Magazine Artist Joe Bowler


While performing a Google Image search for some random terminology recently, I came across an illustration that caught my eye. It turned out to be from an artist named Joe Bowler who made his living in the ’50s and ’60s doing advertising and magazine illustrations.

Quite a few have details that would interest us here, such as the guy above, with buckle-back chinos and rep-striped billfold.

Or this guy, wearing a 3/2 jacket with a tattersall shirt and what is likely a knit tie:

14. Bowler, Joe - Engagement, 1957

Here’s a pink oxford at sea:

Joe Bowler from Paul Mann-sm

And a class sweater:


White tee, khakis and loafers:


And something a bit more formal:




This is from a Saturday Evening Post story called “The Beautiful Beatnik”:


Bowler was born in New York in 1928 and currently resides in South Carolina. He has a website and is apparently available for portrait commissions. He might even make you look as good as these guys. — CC

22 Comments on "The Illustrated Man: Midcentury Magazine Artist Joe Bowler"

  1. I think that the guy smoking the pipe has a pouch of Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco in his back pocket, or a fold up tobacco pouch. The fold up pouch, usually stripes or plaids, held an ounce or so of tobacco. An ounce was considered the day’s supply in those days. The pouches were lined with some type of filtering cloth. The cloth would sift out the tobacco dust.

    I recall the first roll up pouch I had. A red plaid (Royal Stewart?), cost about a dollar. Top grade leather pouches sold for around $5.

    Hate the buckle on the pants.

  2. PS. The guy on the right in the last picture with the navy blazer looks like the actor, Karl Herd. He was occasionally on the Perry Mason series as the young law student, David Gideon.

    The girl is a Hanoi Jane wannabee. For the era, she was sitting in a most seductive pose.

  3. I agree with you Wriggles. I vote for the retail pouch of Sir Walter Raleigh. I was a pipe smoker for many years, and I was just getting ready to mention that, when I saw your comment.

  4. Jack Spratt | August 15, 2013 at 2:16 am |


    Thousands of Amerıcans died totally in vain.
    Hanoi today is full of Burger King, KFC, Dunkin Donuts, etc. outlets.

    Ms. Fonda was a lot smarter than most of us, apparently

  5. Sort of a low bar, think of the enormous blood and treasure we wasted in WWI & WWII, today there’s Burger King, KFC, Dunkin Donuts, etc. outlets in Berlin and Tokyo. Not sure why the POTUS made comments today on Egypt, they have American fast food outlets there. 🙂

  6. @ Jack

    Seems we have changed strategy from toxic chemical spraying to taking them out with toxic food?

  7. I just read the story “The Beautiful Beatnik” (not sure if it’s available without Academic Search Premier). Fun story, up until the last five paragraphs, which are bat-sh!t nuts. “We’ll work hard, save our money — and live neat. Live orderly and calm, live square forever after.” Thanks!

  8. Yes I bought a vintage copy of the magazine to see the art on paper instead of pixels and read the story. Pretty dull.

  9. Hanoi Jane was not just saying that our involvement in SE Asia was wrong; she was actively engaged in treasonous activities. She should have been brought to trial. I don’t believe there’s a statute of limitations on treason, but given current trends, I have no doubt that she will live out her days without ever being called to account for her perfidy.

  10. @ Jack
    @ MAC
    @ Henry

    Sad, but true. American soldiers died in vain in all wars. So did a lot of “enemy” soldiers. And what is even sadder, is that civilians and soldiers alike will die in vain in the future.

    I’ve read a great deal on WW2, and what was referred to as the New World Order. Seems like the current state of the world mimics the one world government envisioned by the Axis powers.

  11. Wriggles,

    I agree with all you say except the “enemy” part. For the most part, those we fought were our enemies, sans scare quotes.

    Not to talk about the original post or anything, but I love these illustrations. They’re Rockwellesque but without the photorealism (which is not a deficiency but a matter of style), and convey various moods and feelings: the women in the first drawing show pleasure and surprise; the second drawing, an intimate moment. Each drawing is a vignette we can relate to.

    These drawings may be commercial, and may have been used in ads, but they have more artistic value than the majority of what hangs on the walls of museums of modern “art.” I would love to have my portrait done by him.

  12. So, I am the only one that enjoyed the illustrations? Thanks for posting them Christian!

  13. Henry
    Jane is just a misunderstood entitled “small c Communist” mattress back. Like so many “progressives” they seem to only notice injustices during republican administrations. Anyone believe Jane’s trip in the summer of 72 had nothing to do with the elections that fall? Her mission failed McGovern took it in the can.

  14. buckle-back pants rule

  15. Very off topic, but we can compare a couple of different actresses here. Anyone who has followed Ann Margret, and all she’s been through, can especially appreciate this story. (even though they misspell her name)


    During her trip, Fonda made ten radio broadcasts in which she denounced American political and military leaders as “war criminals”.

    When cases of torture began to emerge among POWs returning to the United States, Fonda called the returning POWs “hypocrites and liars.”

    As a celebrity, the mere fact of her visiting enemy soldiers during armed conflict counts as “giving aid and comfort” to them. It was a tremendous PR boost for the enemy. Our personal feeling about US involvement in Vietnam have nothing to do with it.

    She can blow all the smoke she wants; she’s still a traitor.

    P.S. to RKW: Thank you for sharing that. It makes me like Ann-Margret all the more.

  17. Jane grew up during WWII, she was 7 or 8 when the war ended. Supposedly, she is a feminist, but seems to always blame the men in her life (or the French) or being tired for her being a useful idiot, at least till recently, she must have gotten help or a new publicist.

    It was her first husband’s fault she was out finding women for threesomes.

    Her trip to Hanoi was predicated on the bombing of the dikes. Had she relied on her vast WWII experience, she would have known Nixon could have destroyed them in a week with B-52s if he had intended to and she would have been up to her chest in effluent while sitting in that famous AA gun photo.

    It was Tom Hayden’s fault she cheated.

    It was the Black Panthers fault when they dumped her. Well actually her credit cards she gave them were maxed out. Same thing happened with the radical Native American movement. The list is endless.

    Jane is the most used woman of her generation and there are a lot of them. I fill bad for her sometimes, she was once a decent actress and she has tried to revise her history. She’s not a woman I would want the women in my family to emulate. We teach them to own their mistakes, not make excuses

  18. @RKW

    I just read the vet story about Ann Margret. What a wonderful lady. I got really misty when I read it.


    I was in US Army basic in 1972 when Hanoi Jane made that trip. I recall guys were hissing and screaming obscenities at the TV in the rec room. Still makes me angry to think about it. I was fortunate. I never went to Vietnam or anywhere overseas. Guys I knew got transferred and a lot probably ended up in Vietnam. I sometimes wonder how many were killed or wounded.

  19. Very cool artwork!

  20. “Here’s a pink oxford at sea”

    That almost looks like a Hardy Boys cover illustration. Frank, Joe, and Chet standing in the bow? And that must be Iola.

  21. “I think that the guy smoking the pipe has a pouch of Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco in his back pocket”

    Wrong. He has a long wallet made of repp silk material (same as the neck ties) that is edged in leather. Obviously intended to be stashed safely in the inside chest pock of a suit jacket, blazer of sport jacket but commonly worn in a hip pocket through the 60s. Guess we didn’t fear pickpockets in those days…

    “Hate the buckle on the pants.” That would be the “hiney binder”; totally authentic to the era.

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