A to Z: V is for Virgil Finlay

Today is brought to you by the letter V… as in ‘Virgil Finlay.’For those who complain that Virgil Finlay should be filed under F, I will point out that whhen I was a kid, my family had a dog named ‘Finley’ (or ‘Finni’) which was apparently named after a Nun who had terrorized my father when he was in grade school. “Finley” is close enough to “Finlay” that I would get confused… so V is for Virgil.

If I were rich and could hire someone from beyond the grave to illustrate my fantasies instead of having to illustrate them myself (what toil!), I woul put ‘Virgil Finlay’ on the list of artists to approach. Virgil Finlay, however, is no longer with us (another point in common with Finley the dog) and I am not rich so I will have to keep toiling on my own. But his work stands as a great inspiration … both thematically and in terms of those millions of teensy dots!
One of the stories I heard about Finlay (which may or may not be true) is that he was in constant poverty because he worked so slowly. All mthe little dots, hatches and stipples of his trademark technique took much more time than illustrations by any other artist and the pulp magazines all paid a set fee for illustrations (as many publishers still do) with X paid for a half page, Y paid for a full page, etc. Finlay was such a perfectionist that he would do one drawing in the time that another artist could do several, and thus was always one step away from the poor house. A sad story; I hope it was not true.

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