This pen & ink on artist’s paper shows a man in a t-shirt and running shorts jogging around an indoor second-level running track. He appears strained and breathless – clearly not enjoying the exertion.
This illustration appears as a full page bookplate on page 67 of Good as Gold by Joseph Heller. It depicts a moment from Chapter 3 – “Every Change Is for the Worse”.
From its founding in 1973 until its closing in 2000 The Franklin Library produced public domain classic books as well as some limited first editions. They released them in subscription series such as The First Edition Society. Often released in parallel series including leather bound and a non-leather bound (leatherette), the books were handsomely bound and included illustrations from contemporary illustrators.
American artist and illustrator Steven H. Stroud (b. 1947) was specially commissioned to create a series of interior illustrations for The Franklin Library’s 1979 publication of the novel Good as Gold by Joseph Heller.
The novel is well regarded by both fans of Heller and literary critics. It is viewed as a return to the gag and verbal play that Heller established in Catch-22 and abandoned in favor of the scathing sarcasm and the darker story in Something Happened. Good as Gold functions as a satire on the U.S. government, in a manner similar to the satirization of the army in Catch-22 and the corporation in Something Happened.
Gore Vidal listed Good as Gold as one of his five favorite post-World War II novels. He described it as Heller “at his deadly best, illuminating a hustler on the make in politics”.
The illustration is adhered to a larger illustration board. The paper appears to have been trimmed away at some point, revealing a yellow adhesive that now borders the image. There is a black paper overlay attached to the illustration board.
This is unsigned by the artist.
Born and raised in the Chicago area, Steven Stroud served four years in the U.S. Navy as a photographer and graphic artist before embarking on a 25-year career as an illustrator. His paintings have appeared on the covers of books by Isaac Asimov, Clive Cussler, and Stephen King. He has done special editions of works by Pearl Buck, John Cheever, William Faulkner, Joseph Heller, Joyce Carol Oates, and William Styron.
His work is in the collections of The Department of Defense, Hyatt Hotels, Omega Engineering, UPS and the Florence Griswold Museum. Stroud has been a guest lecturer and critic at all levels of education. He is a past president of the Society of Illustrators and his work is featured in The Illustrator in America by Walter Reed.
Several years ago, Stroud turned his attention full time to his first love, landscape painting. He is currently represented by galleries in Massachusetts and Vermont and has had a number of highly successful group and one-man shows.