Illustrations by Dave Thomson

cigar box with steamboat illustration

I combined a Mark Twain cigar box label graphic and lettering with the mirror image of a post card of the steamboat Helen Blair. I was happy the way it came out. Nice strong silhouette on the boat with its peaky roofed pilot house and those funky clouds the post card artist dreamed up. It has a sort of surrealistic quality to it in a way. Viva Zam Klemenz!


Beckwith combined with Rockwell

Here are the elements showing Beckwith's 1890 portrait of Sam Clemens and Rockwell's 1921 Literary Digest cover that I composited to make Sam a fisher-man.


Artist Carroll Beckwith was born in Hannibal, Missouri on September 23, 1852, while still a little boy his family moved to Chicago where at age 16 he would begin to study art at the Chicago Academy of Design. Beckwith became an accomplished portrait painter and in 1890 he painted a portrait of another Hannibal "hometown boy" - Sam Clemens, (Mark Twain) who was born nearby in Florida, Missouri in 1835 and moved with his family to Hannibal in 1839 where he would grow up and have the experiences which led him to write TOM SAWYER and HUCKLEBERRY FINN among other works of fiction. Sam left Hannibal in 1853 as a journeyman printer before becoming a "cub pilot" under Horace Bixby on a Mississippi River steamboat in 1857.

In this composite I used an early Norman Rockwell magazine cover of a fisherman sitting on a dock and incorporated a photographic sky (above) and a colorized postcard of the steamboat J.S. on the Upper Mississippi (below). The pieces fit together nicely with the face of a corn cob smoking Sam Clemens painted by Beckwith. The original painting is in the collection of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut. I made this comp about a dozen years ago.

It can go with the other Mark Twain "put-togethers" in my wing of the museum if it isn't there already. Wasn't sure where to look for it so I may have missed it.

steamboat round the bend illustration

More illustrations by Dave Thomson or from his collection

Dave says: "These are some of my more whimsical contributions, some of them bordering on surrealism."

"In this one I replaced Dante's head with Twain's in the Delacroix painting." twainquotes.com

"I colorized pictures of the homes where Clemens was born and died then added a deep sky with comet streaking overhead." twainquotes.com

"Borrowed a body from Rockwell and added Twain's head. The steamboat is from one of my old post cards." twainquotes.com

Middle aged/old Clemens face split inside a circle." twainquotes.com

"Twain's head on Santa's body on an old Christmas card." twainquotes.com

"Twain's head on the body of a young boy on his way home with a catch of fish." twainquotes.com

"This is me and the Tom and Huck statue in Hannibal in 1992." twainquotes.com

"Twain's head on Tom Sawyer's body, rafting on the river - replaced the sky too." twainquotes.com

Hale's City of Monroe Dave Thomson provided the photos of Jim Hale's City of Monroe model

Steamboat 'Round the Bend Dave Thomson provided the still photos to entertain the crowds after the third annual online steamboat race.

The Knight, Death and the Devil A piece by Dave Thomson when he was at Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, 1964 - 1968.


Attached a mock up of a "make-believe" book cover I made years ago as a T-shirt design for Debbie Harris in Hannibal, MO who printed my Hannibal/Mark Twain/Tom & Huck graphics on shirts and tote bags. I incorporated on the top, lettering from the front cover of a very old British edition of Mark Twain's OLD TIMES ON THE MISSISSIPPI that had been renamed "MISSISSIPPI PILOT" and used Sidney Riesenberg's illustrations from the book PIONEERS ALL! of young Mark Twain as a steamboat pilot that we have on ILLUSTRATIONS 10.

by Joseph Lewis French
Illustrated by Sidney Riesenberg
Published by Milton Bradley, 1929

All together nineteen American "pioneers" were given the juvenile biography treatment including Mark Twain, Lewis and Clark, Kit Carson, Daniel Boone, John C. Fremont, Charles Lindbergh, and others.


With the exception of images credited to certain institutions,
most of the images on this page are from a private collection.
Please request permission before reproducing our images in any publication.*