According to John Flautz in his book Life, the Gentle Satirist (1972), Mitchell had a particular passion for mermaids and dogs, so they were frequently featured on the magazine's covers. In the beginning, Mitchell illustrated the covers of the magazine himself, but sometime in the late 1880s, he began to employ cover artists. Will Rannells' first cover appeared in the July 16, 1914 issue.
Country Gentleman. He went on to illustrate for the magazines Life, Judge and McCalls, as well as for a number of children's books, including three books by Eleanor Youmans: Waif: the Story of Spe (1937), The Great Adventures of Jack, Jock, and Funny (1938), Timmy, the Dog That Was Different (1941), and Just a Mutt by Eldon Roark (1947).
Will Rannells became an art professor at The Ohio State University, where he taught painting and advertising design. He was active in the Humane Society and was known locally for his efforts to rescue stray animals and for his opposition to vivisection. He donated his papers-- including original drawings, illustrations, and paintings-- to the University, where they reside in the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.
Life was so influential that Harold Ross and friends used it as a model for creating The New Yorker, which first appeared on February 21, 1925. Writers and artists who appeared on the covers and pages of Life later found fame through their association with The New Yorker (artists Perry Barlow, Garrett Price; writers Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker).
A Dog's Life (With a Special Appearance by Cats) continues through May 31 in the Skylight Gallery, Sixth Floor, Main Library. Drawn from the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor (SCOWAH), this annual themed show celebrates the generosity of humanitarian, lawyer, bibliophile, and library lover Nat Schmulowitz. His gift of 93 jest books to the city of San Francisco on April Fools' Day, 1947 has grown to over 21,000 volumes in 35 languages and spans 400 years of wit and humor. The collection is housed in the Book Arts & Special Collections Center and is open to the public without appointment.
Will Rannells covers (starting from the top): "Putting on the Dog," Life (Nov. 3, 1927);
"The Dog Star,"Life (July 16, 1914); "R.F.D.," Life (Dec. 16, 1915);
"An Old Sea Dog," Life (Sept. 3, 1925); Country Gentleman (June 1, 1912);
"Never Again," Life (Jan. 15, 1920). Life courtesy Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor; Country Gentleman courtesy Magazines & Newspaper Center, San Francisco Public Library.