Saturday, November 03, 2012

William H. Campbell -- "The Autocar Truck Man" -- 1915-2012 --R.I.P.

I received a call from my friend Bruce Bentzman that our mutual friend Bill Campbell passed away during the evening of October 30th, 2012. I wonder if Bill would have appreciated the title I gave him, "THE AUTOCAR TRUCK MAN"? 

I first came to know of Bill because of the art work he did for what was then one of the biggest ad firms in the U.S., Grey & Rodgers of Philadelphia. It was while there that between 1943 -48 he produced  fifty-two ads depicting AUTOCAR TRUCKS and some of the old carriers. He also did the art work for twenty-seven "spots" that also appeared in those ads in TIME and LIFE magazines. This was all done the old fashioned way -- by the artist hand while trying to meet a deadline. I think Bill's work epitomized all of the truck ads of the 1940's.

I don't remember which one of these ads I first saw with the signature of "Campbell" or W. Campbell -- but I was hooked and knew I had to find more. And so it was that I would come to put together a video collage of those works that I had collected that also included some that I thought were his, but done by some of his contemporaries -- Chuck Allen, Frank Waltrich, and Otto Bauman. Billl's depictions of the trucks were done so well, that these latter ad artists tried to emulate his work. That was how I got to know Bill, finding out which ads were actually his and finally finding and cataloging all his works.

I was just getting to know Bill through our few conversations. I will miss his bright mind and our talks about his ads. It makes me wish that I had known him back in the day, and I could have looked over his shoulder and watched the master as he worked to finish one of his pieces.

Good bye my friend, thank you for your kindness and for those wonderful AUTOCAR ads---

If you haven't, please take a moment to view his works --