Monday, April 27, 2020

Comics: Raymond K. Perry, Artist

Raymond K. Perry* was born on September 16, 1876, in Sterling, Illinois. The birth information is from his birth certificate, World War I draft card and Social Security application. His birthplace was also recorded on a 1927 passenger list at A Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Mennonite record said Perry’s parents were George P. Perry and Sophie [sic] Emma Shirk. Perry was the oldest of three children.

Birth certificate courtesy of Todd Klein

Perry’s father; photograph courtesy of Todd Klein

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census Perry’s family resided in Coloma, Illinois. His father was a drugstore clerk. According to the History of Whiteside County, Illinois (1908), he was “senior partner of the firm of Perry and Perry, druggists …”

Perry’s education was at the schools of Sterling. The Sterling Daily Gazette, December 2, 1895, said

Raymond Perry, the Gazette staff artist, who is pursuing a course of instruction at the Chicago Art Institute, is making very rapid progress there. He has again been promoted and is away ahead of the 160 students in whose class he started a few months ago. His last promotion was up to the “Antique” class. The professors speak very flatteringly of his progress.
The Chicago Tribune, May 4, 1898, reported Perry’s prize at the fourth annual Congress of the Central Art Association, “… A prize of $15 for a cover design for Arts for America, the national organ of the association, was awarded to Raymond Perry of Chicago. The competition is a yearly one, and is entered by art students all over the country.”

Perry’s cover appeared in June according to the Chicago Tribune, June 19, 1898.

Arts for America for June is out with a new cover designed by Raymond Perry. A prize was offered last March for a cover design for this publication. About seventy designs were submitted from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Detroit, St. Louis, and Chicago. Mr. Perry is a student of the Art Academy. The principal motive of his design is the figure of a man holding a globe to which other spheres are bound, furnishing a support for the title and illustrating the sentiment “Art is the directing power of the universe. Through the interpretation of nature it leads to science, industry, culture, and all true education.”
He drew the cover of the May 1899 issue of The Inland Printer, a Chicago publication. The publication also printed two Perry illustrations in its June 1900 issue.

Perry’s work was noted in the Chicago Tribune, October 22, 1899.

A collection of the work of the students of the Art Academy is exhibited in one of the studios of the school at 300 Wabash avenue. It includes none of their school studies, but designs, compositions, out-of-door sketches, and other work in oil, water, pen and ink, and wash. Many of the pupils of the evening classes of the school are engaged in practical designing and illustrating in the daytime and many of the exhibits of these have a distinctly professional character. Among these are drawings of horses by Robert J. Dickey, designs for book covers by Raymond Perry, …
The 1900 census recorded Perry in Chicago where he was a bank clerk. He was a lodger at 291 Michigan Avenue.

In 1901 Perry illustrated the book, Four Old Greeks: Achilles, Herakles, Dionysios, Alkestis.

The 1902 Chicago Central Business Directory listed Perry as an illustrator in the Fine Arts Building. His address in the 1903 directory was 203 Michigan Avenue.

At some point Perry moved to New York City.

The 1905 New York state census listed Perry in Manhattan at 55 West 24th Street.

On August 17, 1907, Perry married Emilia C. Russell in Manhattan according to the New York Dramatic Mirror, August 24, 1907. In the 1910 census their home was at 600 West 127th Street. He was a self-employed artist and she a musician and singer.

Gunter’s Magazine, June 1907, published an illustration by Perry. He did at least two illustrations for Ladies’ World magazine: “The Happy End” in October 1909, and “The Man-Fairy” by L. Frank Baum’s in December 1910. Perry’s art appeared in The Circle, March 1910. For St. Nicholas magazine Perry produced the series, “Nature Giants That Man Has Conquered”, in 1911, from March to June, here, here here and here. Perry’s art was in Smith’s Magazine, September 1914.

Perry was represented in the 1912 Pleiades Club Year Book.

The April 1913 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal had work by Perry. Perry’s “Giant Mechanical Mosquitoes to Conquer Nature!” appeared in several Sunday newspapers including the Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia), April 6, 1913. Perry drew the cover of the New York Sun’s children’s section which featured the Tarryvale Town Tales.

The Christian Science Monitor, May 21, 1913, covered the MacDowell Club exhibition.

After 15 successful exhibitions of pictures during the season, the MacDowell Club of New York is giving a sixteenth for the purpose, as a member explained, of “giving the little pictures a chance.” The plan of this club is to offer its gallery to self-organized groups of painters, each group numbering eight to twelve artists, for exhibition purposes, the exhibitions to last two weeks. In the present case, the pictures being small, it has been possible to accommodate four groups in the gallery and the exhibition it correspondingly interesting. There is great charm to small pictures. …

… The decorative art of Raymond Perry is shown in a number of sketches and drawings …
Perry’s illustration, “Tommy’s Christmas Present”, appeared in the January 3, 1915 Sunday Magazine supplement of many newspapers including the Evening Star and Buffalo Courier.

The 1915 New York City directory said Perry’s studio was at 124 Lexington Avenue. His home in the 1915 New York state census was 159 East 33rd Street. Directories for 1916 and 1917 had the same address.

The American Printer, June 5, 1916, announced the bookplates prizes and said “the third award went to Raymond Perry of New York.”

When Perry signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918, he was a Chicago resident staying at the Hotel Alexandria. Perry was an artist at the Ethridge Company, 220 South State Street.

Perry was the illustrator of the Roll of Honor poster for the National Security League, and “America’s Immortals: Donald M. Call” advertisement for the Victory Liberty Loan Committee.

Perry exhibited in the Art Institute of Chicago’s Thirty-first Annual Exhibition of American Oil Paintings and Sculpture, in 1918.

Perry’s return from service was noted in Printers’ Ink, March 27, 1919.

Ethridge Men Return from the War
The following men have returned to The Ethridge Association of Artists, New York, after having been in the service of their country during the war:

… Raymond Perry, Division Pictorial Publicity.
According to the 1920 census Perry and his wife were Manhattan residents at 159 East 33rd Street. He continued work as a self-employed artist.

Perry drew the cover of Advertising & Selling, January 17, 1920, which said

… Raymond Perry, the artist, who made this design for Advertising & Selling, has an enviable record of achievement. He studied at the Art Institute and Art Academy, Chicago, is a Painter-member of the Salamagundi Club, and has exhibited many times at The Annual Exhibition of American Artists, Society of Chicago Artists and the various New York Galleries. He designed the very beautiful stained glass windows for St. Andrews Church, Pittsburgh, and for the Memorial Library, Hanover, Pa.

Mr. Perry is also a national illustrator of note having long contributed to the more important popular magazines. His unique series for St. Nicholas has been put into book form.

One of the artist’s more recent canvasses was a large oil painting for The American Rolling Mill Company, “The Armco Spirit” was represented in splendid allegory, and Mr. Perry is now in Middletown, as a party to the unveiling of this progressive advertising achievement.

“The Armco Spirit” was featured on the covers of the company magazine, Armco Bulletin.
The Baldwin Piano advertisement, with a drawing by Perry, appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, October 9, 1920.

Printers’ Ink Monthly, January 1921, printed an Ethridge Association of Artists advertisement that mentioned Perry’s project for a steel and iron plant.

Perry had two pieces in the 1921 Society of Independent Artists exhibition.

Perry’s “The Armco Spirit” painting and ten drawings for the American Rolling Mill Company (ARMCO) were published in the 1922 book, The First Twenty Years: A History of the Growth and Development of the American Rolling Mill Company, Middletown, Ohio, Beginning 1901 and Ending 1922.

Perry was one of the judges of the alumni exhibition as reported in the Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, November 1922.

According to the History of the American Watercolor Society: The First Hundred Years (1969), Perry was a member of the society from 1922 to 1946. Perry was listed in the 1946 catalog.

The New York Times, January 28, 1923, covered Mr. and Mrs. Frank Futterton Brumback’s party where guests “obeyed the invitations and came as tramps and gypsies. … John Sloan was successful with realistic bare toes sticking out from the end of his shoes—or that was the way they looked—but they were really painted on. So were the bare feet of Stuart Davis, who wore his a la Charlie Chaplin. Raymond Perry of the Salmagundi Club was artistically arrayed in a two days’ growth of black beard, which slipped on and off at will. …”
The New York Times, April 15, 1923, review of an exhibition at the Salmagundi Club said “There is firmness to the reserved arrangement of Raymond Perry’s ‘President Grant.’”The Art Institute of Chicago’s Fourth International Water Color Exhibition of 1924 including two world by Perry: “Vulcan at Twilight” and “Furnaces at Cambria Works”.

The 1925 New York state census counted Perry and his wife as residents of Brookhaven, New York, on South Country Road.

Brooklyn Life, July 25, 1925, said Perry was an exhibitor at the Associated Artists of Long Island second annual art show.

Perry and his wives were mentioned in at least 106 issues of the Patchogue Advance newspaper, from 1927 to 1960, mostly about his art and their second home.

Perry’s assignment in Europe was covered in the New York Post, April 13, 1927.

Raymond Perry, an artist with the Ethridge Company, sails today to visit fifteen Italian cities on behalf of one of the company’s client, who is seeking a series of first-hand pen drawings Of certain architectural landmarks in Benito Mussolini’s reborn empire. Mr. Perry will make the drawings on tour, sending them back several at a time. From Italy he will go through the chateau country of France, thence to Paris and London, where he will make a study for the company of England’s poster mediums.
A few months later Perry and his wife returned from their European visit. Perry arrived first on June 13, followed by his wife on August 31.

Passport pages courtesy of Todd Klein

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 14, 1927, noted the purchase of land for Perry: “… a 100 foot plot on the Merrick rd. at Brookhaven to G. Pockriss for Raymond Perry of Manhattan, …”

Perry illustrated the 1929 book, “Manna-Hatin” The Story of New York.

The couple were back at their rental home, 159 East 34 Street, in the 1930 census.
The Patchogue Advance, May 29, 1931, said Perry will give art instruction.

Raymond K. Perry of New York and Brookhaven, an artist of well established reputation, will take pupils at his cottage in Brookhaven this summer, is of much interest to students of the schools in this section who may want to specialize in that line during the summer, and adults as well. Mr. Perry is a painter who has done some very beautiful work in oils and water colors, but who has specialized in applied art and is familiar with the processes of preparing paintings or drawings for the varied needs of publishers and those who make commercial use of art material. He emphasizes a memory drawing method to facilitate the practical application of art work. One of his more recent outstanding products was the numerous set of pictures and ornaments for the New York historical book “Man-a-Hattin”, issued by the Bank of Manhattan Company.

 Patchogue Advance, May 26, 1931

Patchogue Advance, June 2, 1931

Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Perry’s career in comics began in 1935. He was hired by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. Many of his credits are at the Grand Comics Database. Jerry Robinson was interviewed by Jim Amash in Alter Ego #39, August 2004, and recalled Perry at DC.
… One other guy I should mention who should be remembered—and was a wonderful man—was Raymond Perry, though I just called him “Mr. Perry.” He was the colorist who worked in the bullpen. He was a fine, old illustrator; a white-haired man that I really looked up to. I felt terrible that someone of his age and illustrious past should be reduced to coloring comics. His desk was very close to mine.

There was a time when I shared an apartment with Mort Meskin and Bernie Klein on 33rd Street, off Third Avenue, and Mr. Perry’s apartment was on 34th Street, off Lexington Avenue, just a block away. Occasionally, I’d walk home with him. I remember one time he gave me a couple of his research books of costumes. He wanted to make sure I was authentic in my research, and at times I’d work closely with him on my “Batman” stories when they were colored. I did color a couple of my stories and some of my covers. When I didn’t color the covers, I worked with Mr. Perry on them. An he didn’t mind that at all. He was very pleased and helpful. …
The New York Times, February 4, 1934, reviewed the exhibition of work by Brooklyn and Long Island artists at the Brooklyn Museum and said “Among the paintings that might be singled out are … Raymond K. Perry’s ‘New Cycle’ represents a golden-winged, auburn-haired spirit ascending from the corpse of an aged woman. …”

The Schenectady Gazette (New York), July 6, 1935, mentioned the paintings hanging in the lobby of the Hotel Van Curier and said

Raymond Perry, master of classical Illustrations, widely-known in New York, has painted a colorful picture of Mrs. Coburn as Mistress Ford, the leading role in Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives of Windsor,” … Mr. Perry, a water-colorist, has been employed as an illustrator for many advertising companies because of his fine representation of classical subjects. Many portraits of distinguished persons have been executed by Perry’s brush.
The New York Post, January 23, 1937, described Perry’s lecture.
A retentive mind is one of the most valuable assets a designer or artist can possess, whether he or she is attending an opening, the horse show, or the opera, having luncheon at the Plaza or studying the windows on Fifth Avenue, or Fifty-seventh Street. If the designer has the faculty for remembering not only the costumes as a whole but the important details, such as a neckline or belt, then assuredly he or she will be among the most successful.

These are the views of Raymond Perry, who explained methods of memory drawing in a lecture recently at the Traphagen School of Fashion, 1680 Broadway. Mr. Perry is a member of the Salmagundi Club of New York City, the New York Water Color Club, and the American Water Color Society. His work can be seen in many famous institutions and buildings about the country, such as the Memorial Library in Hanover, Pa., St. Andrews Church in Pittsburgh, [illegible], the Seventh Regiment Armory, Shimer Junior College in Mt. Carol, Ill., and in private collections.
Water-colour Painting of To-day (1937) had this assessment of Perry’s “Vulcan at Twilight”.
It was Whistler and his friend Joseph Pennell who first helped us to see beauty in chimney stacks. Since then many artists have tried their hands at them. Raymond Perry, American painter, gives us this strong impression of a huge industrial plant somewhere in the United States. The artist has successfully conveyed the idea of a smoke pall in the atmosphere. The bridge and river help to make an interesting composition.
Perry illustrated the 1940 book, A Handbook of Company K Seventh Regiment (107th Infantry, N.Y.N.G.).

Perry has not yet been found in the 1940 census. New York City directories from 1943 to 1960, had Perry’s address as 145 East 45th Street.

The Patchogue Advance, February 1, 1945, reported the passing of Perry’s wife.

Death Comes at Concert To Mrs. Raymond Perry
Mrs. Emilie Russell Perry, wife of Raymond Perry, of Brookhaven and New York, died in Carnegie hall, New York, on Friday, being stricken just after arriving at her seat for a symphony concert at 2:30 p. m. She was 71 years old. Her husband, well known as an artist, is production manager of Superman, Inc., in New York.

Mrs. Perry was born in Carrollton, Ill., and attended private schools in Washington. She was a voice pupil of the late Mme. Schoen-Rene and was formerly active in musical circles. She was a member of the American Red Cross during the First World War and in the present war had been active in a number of war and welfare groups, including organizations in Brookhaven.

A talented musician, she had long been prevented from public appearances by ill health.

Besides her husband she leaves two sisters, Miss Caroline Elizabeth Russell of Verona , N. J., and Mrs. Clinton Peters of Newtown, Conn. She lived at 145 East Thirty-fourth street in New York, and on South Country road, Brookhaven, in the old Corwin cottage. Her parents were the late Charles Elmer Russell and Caroline Elizabeth Price.
The New York, New York, Marriage License Index, at, said Perry and Louise M. Wilde obtained a license on December 20, 1945 in Manhattan.

The 1946 Annual Exhibition of the American Watercolor Society catalog had this listing: “Raymond Perry 145 East 34th Street, N. Y. C.”

Perry passed away on November 16, 1960, in New York City. The New York Times published an obituary the following day.

Raymond Perry Dead
Art Editor of Comic Books Designed Church Windows
Raymond Perry, art editor of comic books, painter, designer and book illustrator, died Tuesday night in Dresden Madison Nursing Home at 36 East Sixty-seventh Street. He was 84 years old.

Mr. Perry, who formerly lived at 145 East Thirty-fourth Street, had been art editor of the National Comics Publications, Inc., of 575 Lexington Avenue, for the last twenty years. He also had designed windows for Churches and libraries in Pennsylvania. Portraits by him are in the Seventh Regiment Armory and Fraunces Tavern in New York, and the Poe Cottage in Philadelphia.

He was born in Sterling, Ill., and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the New York Academy of Fine Arts. Mr. Perry was a member of the Salmagundi Club and American Water-color Society.
On November 24, 1960, the Patchogue Advance printed an obituary.
Raymond Perry Taken by Death at the Age of 84
A number of readers noted the death at 84 last Wednesday of Raymond perry, art editor of comic books, painter, designer and book illustrator. He died at the Dresden-Madison Nursing Home, 36 East Sixty-Seventh Street, New York City after a long illness. His hime was at 145 East Thirty-Fourth Street. Funeral services were held Friday at the Universal Chapel, Lexington Avenue and Fifty-Second Street.

Mr. Perry is of particular interest to residents of this area because he and his first wife, Emily, one of the Russell sisters who summered in Brookhaven, lived for many years in the house later bought and still owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Carl Olson of South Country Road.

Mr. Perry had been art editor of National Comics Publications, Inc., of 575 Lexington Avenue, for the last 20 years. He also had designed windows for churches, such as those in St. Andrew’s Church, Pittsburgh, and for libraries in Pennsylvania. Portraits by him are in the Seventh Regiment Armory and Fraunces Tavern in New York City and the Poe Cottage in Philadelphia.

He was born in Sterling, Ill., and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the New York Academy of Fine Arts. Mr. Perry was a member of the Salmagundi Club, American Water Color Society and Montclair Art Museum.

Surviving are his widow, the former Mary MacLennan; a daughter, Miss Nancy Farrell; and a brother, Dr. William Perry of Sacramento, Calif.
At is a note from Perry’s nephew, Daniel Aument.
Uncle Ray was born in Sterling Illinois. In the teens, 20s and 30s, he worked as an illustrator, creating art work for advertising and also illustrations to accompany short stories published in magazines. In the 40s and 50s he worked for National Publications, the creator and publisher of the Superman comics, as their colorist, and I suspect wrote stories and did lettering and some artwork.
The Hackensack Record (New Jersey), September 8, 1975, reported the passing of Perry’s second wife.
Perry, Louise M. Wilde, of Verona, N. J., on September 6, 1975. Beloved wife of the late Raymond Perry and mother of Robert W. and Stewart W. Wild, Beatrice W. Logan and Louise Moor Van Vleck. Also survived by eight grandchildren. Funeral services at Grace Episcopal Church, Rutherford, Tuesday [?] P. M. Cremation private. Friends may be received at the John C. Collins Funeral Home, 19 Lincoln Ave. Rutherford, Monday 7 to 9 P. M.

Further Reading and Viewing
The Last Superman Standing: The Al Plastino Story (2016)
brief profile of Perry who painted a portrait of Plastino

Middletown: The Steel City (2000)

Armco Spirit, a painting by Raymond Perry, expresses that indefinable “something” about old Armco. On a huge canvas, the artist's brush created a strong figure of the quintessential happy, self-reliant steel worker. He was, in reality, a composite of 12 men, each from a different department at Armco, and each caught in a photograph from which Perry took certain features. In the background stands the giant steel mill with smoke rising from its stacks. … Armco President, George M. Verity, commissioned the painting, which was unveiled January 9, 1920.
The Hamlet People Database
Brookhaven/South Haven Hamlets & Their People

Todd’s Blog
The DC Comics Offices 1930s-1950s Part 4; photographs of Perry

Raymond Perry at DC Comics
Raymond Perry at DC Comics, New Info and Photos

*  Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 has Perry’s middle initial as W and the birth year 1883, both are incorrect. There was an artist and educator named Raymond Wilson Perry who was born in 1883. According to The New York Times, October 29, 1948, he passed away on October 28.

(Updated May 18, 2023; Next post on Monday: ACBA News #15)


  1. Alex:

    In the Bergen Record's September 8, 1975, obit of Mr. Perry’s second wife, in the list of survivors, Louis Moor VanVleck should read Louise Moor Van Vleck.

    Jake Oster