The King of Paper Dolls is dead. Long live the art of Tom Tierney!
August 8, 2014 6:32 PM Subscribe
On a visit to Smithville, Texas, in 2012, the blogger behind My Big Gay Ears found himself talking with a local artist about paper dolls. The artist turned out to be Tom Tierney, a major force in reviving the tradition of drawing famous people in their skivvies (or swimsuits) and providing them with a 2-D wardrobe. He died last month at his home in Smithville (NYT obituary), leaving behind a memorable and varied body of work.
From an NPR interview, 2010:
From an NPR interview, 2010:
SIMON: Well, can you - forgive for my imperfect understanding of paper doll law. But can you make anybody you want into a paper doll?From mysanantonio.com:
Mr. TIERNEY: Oh, there are interesting laws like presidents, church leaders, anyone who's been in a jail for a year, are public figures, and so they're fair game. And for a while, some of the stars like Elvis Presley, their heirs or whatever had their names trademarked. So you couldnt use their name because you were infringing on a trademark.
But actually I've never really had to worry about it because a lot of people find it an honor to be a Tom Tierney paper doll.
Tierney works from an extensive library of fashions, collecting his ideas in a scrapbook. He lays out the 16-page book on tracing paper, transferring drawings to illustration board via a light box. He uses watercolor to render the subjects - including former Texas Gov. Ann Richards and singer George Strait - in underwear and swimsuits, with a wardrobe of relevant clothing.From The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History:
Tierney said his editor has always been receptive to his pitches, even when he suggested a book on Pope John Paul II.
"One caveat," his editor said. "You cannot have the pope in his underwear."
Most know Tom Tierney as the artist responsible for all those paper dolls books that helped define the family for ages of schoolchildren, but fewer know about Attitude / New Attitude, the amazing collection of queer paper dolls from 1979.From the biography on his website:
In 1975 Tom was casting about for a unique Christmas present for his mother. Remembering that she had saved her paper doll collection from when she was a girl in the early 1900s (Lettie Lane, G.G. Drayton, and assorted movie star paper dolls) he decided to make her some paper dolls of the 1930s movie stars who had been her favorites.Finally, from an interview posted by Dover Publications:
Pleased with the dolls, Garbo, Harlow, and Gable, his mother showed them to a number of friends, one of who turned out to be a literary agent. The agent convinced Tom that a book was possible, and as a result, his first book, "Thirty from the `30s", was born. It was published by Prentice-Hall in 1976. After "Thirty" had a successful run it was retired.
In 1978 Dover Publications, Inc. contacted Tom and proposed that he do some paper doll books for them. It has been a happy and continuing relationship. [List of his Dover books here.]
Q: You regard paper dolls as an art form, don't you?
Tom: I don't mean to boast, but I'm rather proud of having made them into something more than just kids' stuff. My books can be a way to discover things that you weren't taught in school. And I like to think that they bring their subjects to life for readers, just the way they do for me when I work on them.
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