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The Forgotten Society: Alan E. Cober

April 7, 2012

Alan E. Cober's facility with a dip pen and his intelligent and creative take on his subject matter made him one of my favorite illustrators when I was growing up.

The Forgotten Society is a book of 92 of his illustrations from prisons, nursing homes, and mental institutions. Originally published by Dover Publications in the 1970s it has just been republished (also by Dover Publications).

I recommend this book to anyone interested in pen and ink work, in illustration, and in capturing the character of another human. 

This wonderful quotation from Cober is at the beginning of the book's introductory essay.

I enjoy the electric part of it [drawing], the eye to hand to paper part of it. The expressionist part of it comes from not knowing what I am doing. It is like starting all over again each time I sit down to do a drawing, not a conscious act, like trying not to copy yourself, just forgetfulness.

  1. So excited to hear the republished version is finally out! Thanks. Here’s a post I wrote about Cober: http://daughternumberthree.blogspot.com/2009/12/alan-e-cober-drawing-life.html

  2. Reply

    Daughter Number Three—thank you for sharing your post link on Cober. I was unaware he had illustrated that book, haven’t seen it, and now of course must have it so I’ll begin looking about. I followed so many illustrators in magazines and editorial pages while they had whole entire lives elsewhere too. Your note is a very timely reminder to keep looking for books from the others as well. Thank you.

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