June 6, 2014 Share

Taking L.L. Bean To Task On Retro Cover

Originally Published on Apr 2, 2012 “From the Dock” NBC Sports

We’ve been on the road the past week so the home mail box was stuffed to the brim when got home the other day. Karen does the mail sorting in our house, a service she started even as we drove down our gravel driveway. I stopped her as she passed by the latest L.L. Bean catalog because on the cover is one of my all-time favorite pieces of cover art ever to grace an outdoor title. It features a father coming in after dark after a success fishing trip with his young son. He’s met outside the cabin by his wife who is angry he that he kept the kid out so late the little dude fell asleep on his father’s shoulder.

In Bean’s masterful photographic remake of the original cover (using Randal Ford as photographer) is a stunning accomplishment and a fitting tribute to L.L. Bean’s 100th Anniversary celebration. The detail is superb, right down the two bass hanging on the stringer, one a largemouth the other a smallmouth. And I like the fact that they replaced the young boy with a young girl (look closely) as it does reflect our times. However, I must take Bean to task on a couple things:

According to the copy on the inside if the current catalog cover, the original art appeared on Bean’s 1933 catalog cover. Actually, it appeared on their cover in 1956. Go to www.llbean.com and call up their 100th Anniversary covers and you’ll see this for yourself. There’s also some cool video of the actual photo shoot.

Secondly, Bean should acknowledge that the art appeared first on the cover of Field & Stream’s June 1953 edition, three years before it was used on the Bean catalog (see photo).

I may be in the minority on this, but, I miss the classic sporting art of yesteryear which celebrates our favorite sport in ways today’s photography simply doesn’t in either depth or meaning.— Steve



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