If there’s one thing we’ve got in The Saturday Evening Post family of magazines, it’s history. You may know that the Post has a lineage that goes back over 200 years. But did you know that The Saturday Evening Post Society also publishes U.S. Kids Magazines, which include Jack and Jill Magazine and Humpty Dumpty Magazine? This year, as Humpty Dumpty celebrated 70 years of publishing, we had a little fun by dropping homages to our famous Post cover artists — including Norman Rockwell — throughout the 2023 issues of Humpty. Here’s how it happened.
2023 was actually a big anniversary year for U.S. Kids. Jack and Jill, which started publishing in 1938, turned 85. And Humpty Dumpty turned 70 in late 2022, but we wanted to do something special to celebrate all through 2023. Those plans came together with conversations between this writer (who is also Executive Editor of the kids’ magazines), kid magazine art director Brian Sanchez, and associate editor Tim Durham. We already knew we wanted the January/February issue to reference the cover of the very first Humpty issue. But what about after that?
The conversation quickly turned to doing month/season appropriate covers that referenced one of our touchstones, Norman Rockwell. The next step was to consult with regular Humpty Dumpty cover artist Merrill Rainey. Merrill is an award-winning creator of picture books and paper toys for kids. His Roar! I’m A Dinosaur was a 2022 winner in the Good Housekeeping Kids’ Books Awards, which is in good company with the laundry list of other awards and acknowledgements he has. Merrill is also the artist on the Jack and Jill adventure comic strip that runs in Jack and Jill. We knew he’d be up for our crazy idea, and we were right. All we had to do was sit back and watch Merrill go.
Humpty Dumpty, like the Post, is published bi-monthly. January/February was accounted for, as would be May/June. Every May/June, both Jack and Humpty run covers by our annual cover contest winners. Those covers are submitted by actual readers, and the contest gives them a chance to shine. That left four covers to create. Merrill just had to go with images that would be either appropriate to either each issue’s theme or release months. March/April acknowledged the start of baseball season, July/August offered a hat tip to summer, September/October was for Halloween, and November/December marked the holidays. Below, Humpty Dumpty contributing writer Connor Brownfield breaks down the particulars of each cover homage.
January/February: The Exception to the Rule
Unlike the covers from the rest of 2023, the January/February cover was inspired by a previous issue of Humpty Dumpty. The first, in fact. The cover, which was illustrated by an unknown artist, debuted in October of 1952. It depicted fictional editor Mr. Dumpty displaying the issue to a crowd of animal artists, and advertised Humpty Dumpty’s connection to the publishers of Parents’ Magazine. The Saturday Evening Post Society did not purchase Humpty until January of 1980.
March/April: A Rainy Day
The March/April cover, based on Bottom of the Sixth (Three Umpires), paid tribute to the April 23, 1949, issue of The Saturday Evening Post. It was one of many covers painted by Norman Rockwell, and depicts a game of Major League Baseball getting rained out. Humpty’s homage swaps out the human players and umpire with Humpty Dumpty and a few of his four-legged friends.
July/August: High-Dive Hesitation
Another Rockwell cover, Boy on High Dive, was adapted for the July/August issue. The original came from the August 16, 1947, issue of The Saturday Evening Post. In it, a young boy perches atop a 20-foot high-dive, peering over the side. In 2023, it is Humpty whose eyes widen as he looks off the board’s edge. Fortunately, Humpty’s version added a lifeguard to prevent any great falls.
September/October: Trick or Treat
Amos Sewell illustrated the November 3, 1951, cover of The Saturday Evening Post, Tricking Treat-or-Treaters, which served as the inspiration for Humpty’s September/October issue. Sewell’s original depicts a group of Trick-or-Treaters getting startled by a homeowner’s scare. In the 2023 version, Humpty and his friends are spooked by a ghost while on their own candy hunt.
Humpty Dumpty closed out their milestone year with a tribute to the cover of the Post’s December 20, 1930, issue, illustrated by J.C. Leyendecker. Leyendecker’s Santa Up a Ladder shows Santa Claus offering a treat to a dog that has him cornered atop a ladder. In the Humpty cover, Santa is once again trapped, and must extend a candy cane to appease the fierce furball.
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