Motor Illustrator: H. W. Wesso
January 1934 cover. In art deco style, against a cityscape with high rises and factories sits an aerodynamic sliver sedan in profile atop a hill, bathed in reddish golden light projecting from the MoToR logo.
Hans Waldemar Wessolowski (August 19, 1894 — May 12, 1948) was born in Graudenz, Germany (now Poland), one of three children in his family. In a childhood accident he lost his left eye and, thereafter, wore a glass one. His studies took him to the Berlin Royal Academy of Art in 1910, where he financed a portion of his tuition by selling cartoon drawings to the well-known German humor magazine Simplicissimus. Adventure called, though, and Wesso joined the merchant marines and spent about two years seeing the world on steamships, covering more than 256,000 miles by sea. There's no way of knowing whether his next adventure was planned or was instead something that just seemed like a good idea at the time, but in June 1912, near New Orleans, he jumped ship and swam ashore. Although he didn't have entry papers, he stayed on and, in 1913, became a U.S. citizen.
He wanted to be an artist and that dream enabled him to perform manual labor as he worked his way from New Orleans to New York. Arriving there, he built a portfolio and began to earn a living as a commercial illustrator. By 1918, he was married and living in mid-town, although in 1928 he would move to Fairfield, Connecticut. He is best known for his work on thirties science fiction pulp magazines like Strange Tales, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Marvel Science, Amazing Stories Quarterly, and Astounding Stories. For this work he is said to have made bold water color paintings using strong design and brilliant colors as well as geometric architectural constructions. He also provided art work for the interior stories of these magazines, as was the case for work he did for other pulp fiction magazines Clues; Air Adventures; The Danger Trail; and Wide World Adventures.
Wesso's favorite artists were said to be commercial artist McClelland Barclay, on-the-scene newspaper artist Henry Raleigh, and illustrator/muralist Dean Cornwell. Wesso became a staff artist at The New York Daily News in 1940. We know that he illustrated at least one advertisement, that for Aer Lingus. A golfer and bridge player, he also enjoyed international travel, including travel to Africa six times. Following a brief illness, he died at the Norwalk, Connecticut hospital on May 12, 1948.
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