Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Electric Company Magazine

The Electric Company was the Children's Television Workshop's second series after Sesame Street.  It premiered in 1971, less than two years after Sesame Street's debut.  It was an aimed at elementary school age children and featured sketch comedy, music and cartoons.  The show had a six season run and ran through 1977.  It continued to run until 1985 on PBS as reruns.

Like Sesame Street, the Electric Company also had a corresponding magazine.  The magazine ran from 1972 through 1987 outliving the program on which it was based.  Original content included comics, activity pages and puzzles.  It was an extremely creative endeavor that possibly inspired Scholastic's Dynamite magazine. My favorite issues were those art directed by Mary Schenck from roughly 1974-1977.  Schenck would later design some early educational software for CTW with her husband, also an illustrator.  She authored an instructional book on one of the early adapted computer art programs, Print Shop.  Below is Mary Schenck's cover to a 1975 issue:



Another issue from 1975 featured this collage made up of various children's illustrations of their homes:

The Electric Company Magazine certainly had a lot of interesting illustrators and designers.
Below are some pages illustrated by the quintessential New York illustrator of the 1970s, Seymour Chwast of Push Pin Studios:




Al Jaffee, famous for his colorful fold-ins on the back cover of MAD magazine also did fold-ins for The Electric Company Magazine.  Sample below:





Gerard Huerta, who created the very recognizable logos for People Magazine, HBO and the band AC/DC, did some early work for the magazine as well.  The sample below is from 1975.  


Below is the lettering design Huerta did for an LP of The Three Degrees Live.  Looks exactly like something you would expect to see in The Elecrtric Company or Bananas magazines and makes me imagine that he probably designed the Electric Company logo as well.


Roger Huyssen was Huerta's frequent collaborator and also a contributor.  Some of Huyssen most well known images are the cover to the Boston's debut album, the poster to the 1976 film Lifeguard and the original Muppets Take Manhattan poster.

Guy Billout, an illustrator who has published many books and done a cover for the New Yorker also did a lot of early work for the Electric Company Magazine.  His cover below is from 1975.

Another feature in these early issues were comics by Stan Mack whose Real Life Funnies ran in the Village Voice for 20 years.  Below is an example of Mack's work from Electric Co.


Spider-Man's first live-action appearances began on the The Electric Company tv show.  In 1974, Marvel co-published a new Spidey Super Stories comic book.  The comics were advertised as "easy to read" and for a younger audience than the Amazing Spider-Man.  John Romita drew some of the covers and the interior artwork was by Win Mortimer.



The Children's Television Network also published a couple of cartoon humor books based on the show.  These were published by Golden Books.



For a related post, see my previous entry on 1970s Kid's Magazines here.

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