Patterson came from a time when illustrators were celebrities and made vast sums of money. After years of struggle, he found success during the Roaring 20's. His illustrations defined a certain look and feel of the era; in fact, the widespread use of the term "flapper" is often attributed to his work. As his career went on, he did more girlie-mag type art that still maintained his sophisticated style even as the content became racier.
Reading the book, I was struck by how the accumulated illustrations so sharply depict a sense of time and place. Patterson's mix of slashing angles for his figures & exaggerated ovals for faces lend a certain frenetic energy to his illustrations. In fact, many of his non-comics illustrations are far livelier than many of the actual cartoons & comics included in this volume. If the 1920's were immortalized (and not in an especially flattering manner) by F.Scott Fitzgerald in novel form, it's Patterson who brings these images to life. The difference is that Patterson the man became part of the decadence of the era, and so presents an entirely unironic take on what he saw.
It goes without saying that for fans of Dupuy-Berberian, The Complete Universe is a must-have. At the same time, this book is $55 and so would not be recommended for those with only a passing interest, other than as an object of great beauty. This is a book of art and illustrations, and as such, there's virtually no actual comics content here, other than a passing appearance or two by Jean or other familiar characters. There's an easy, almost lyrical quality to the way the images pass by on the pages, aided by the artists' brief & witty commentary. What's striking about this duo is that their powers of observation are matched by their powers of imagination. Their ability to imagine Paris in the 20's and bring it to vivid life is as remarkable as their capacity to visit any city and depict its warmth, life and energy.
Like Patterson, D&B have a special touch for drawing women. Their women tend to be long and angular, with a certain mysterious quality that makes them so appealing. Most of the works in this book were commissioned illustrations. In the introduction to the book, the duo recounts their influences and speak glowingly of classic illustration. For them, there's no boundary between art and commercial art. Thus, they approach any commercial job they acquired with the same seriousness and aesthetic approach as they would their comics. They had a way of making commercial art personal, a manner eventually aided by the fame they achieved through their comics work.http://www.duber.net.