More Information on Harry Kane

The life of Harry Kane remains somewhat of a mystery itself because there is no known publication that has even a brief biography of his life. It is even possible that "Harry Kane" was not his real name but a pseudonym that he used for illustrating purposes. Despite the lack of detailed information, however, I was able to get a little more insight on his career through several avenues.

First, I had the pleasure of having several conversations with Ed Vebell, another artist in the Three Investigators series (see the link on Ed Vebell for more details of these conversations). During the era of the 1960s and 1970s, many of the illustrators were familiar with the other illustrators in the field, even though they may not have known each other personally. Mr. Vebell knew of Harry Kane's work and recalled that he had done some work for Collier's previously. He also recollected that Kane was a good draftsman (like Mr. Vebell himself) and thus would have had advertising clients in addition to having illustrated books. Mr. Vebell referred me to the kind folks at Illustration House, Inc., who were able to provide me with a little more information on Harry Kane.

Illustration House, as its name implies, is dedicated to the art and history of illustration. They did not have any biographical information on Harry Kane, but their research over the years had shown that Kane lived in New York City (W. 52nd St.) and they constructed a list of clients for whom Harry Kane had produced artwork. A partial list of some of the companies and the years of Kane's involvement are shown below:

Haspel 1950
MetLife Insurance Company 1943
Listerine 1942
Mosler Safe 1950
Canada Dry 1950
National Board of Fire Underwriters 1949
Travelers Insurance 1953
Chevron 1952
Republic Steel 1955
Lysol 1942
Air France 1954
Chevrolet 1951
American Express Travelers' Checques 1960
Fram Filters 1950-52
U.S. Savings Bonds 1948
Soft-Lite Lens Company 1941
TWA 1951

The exact nature of Kane's work with these companies is not known. It's possible that Kane drew advertisting material, technical drawings, logos, or something altogether different. However, it is interesting that in addition to illustrating children's books, he had other drawing experience as well, although it appears that Kane did this work for other clients prior to becoming a children's book illustrator. Based on searches on the internet in various locations, below is a list of all known books that were illustrated by Harry Kane.

Book Title Publisher Year
Boys' Life Book of Flying Stories Random House 1964
Cowboys Golden Press 1970
Boys' Life Book of Outer Space Stories Random House 1964
The Beaver Hunters St. Martin's Press 1964
The Sod Turners Criterion Books 1970
The Big Book of Tricks and Magic (cover illustration) Random House 1962
Alfred Hitchcok Mystery Series    
The Secret of Terror Castle Random House 1964
The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot Random House 1964
The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy Random House 1965
The Mystery of the Green Ghost Random House 1965
The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure Random House 1966
The Secret of Skeleton Island Random House 1966
The Mystery of the Fiery Eye Random House 1967
The Mystery of the Silver Spider Random House 1967
The Mystery of the Screaming Clock Random House 1968
The Mystery of the Moaning Cave Random House 1968
The Mystery of the Talking Skull Random House 1969
The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow Random House 1969
The Secret of the Crooked Cat Random House 1970
The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon Random House 1970
The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints Random House 1971
The Mystery of the Nervous Lion Random House 1971

At left is an image of the cover from The Big Book of Tricks and Magic. It's interesting that the color scheme, background, etc. are quite similar to what Kane used when he painted the cover for Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators in the Mystery of the Talking Skull. Obviously, he saw the similarity in ideas between doing a cover for a magic book and doing a cover for a mystery story surrounding a missing magician (remember that the trunk with the skull came from the Great Gulliver).

Below are two cover images provided to me by another fan of the Three Investigators series. He saw this page on Harry Kane and sent me two cover scans of paperback books painted by Kane. He did not do the internal illustrations nor did he draw the cover illustration for the hardback edition; however, you can see his style clearly in this cover paintings. First, the appearance of the boys in both covers is very similar to the Three Investigators themselves with some modifications. There is a boy who looks like Jupiter (although in these covers, he's thin and wears a red pullover sweater much like Bob in T3I). In addition, the somewhat muscular boy could very well be a copy of Pete Crenshaw. Special thanks to Chris Ashley for providing me with these scans.

I also recently purchased a copy of the Boys' Life Book of Outer Space Stories; you can view some of the illustrations from that book on the following page.

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