Some of the most beautiful magazine covers in Brazilian history were done for the magazine Para Todos, created in 1918 with a focus on movie stars (which rather blandly adorned every cover). However, in 1922, the magazine came under the artistic direction of a Rio de Janeiro-born artist, illustrator and graphic designer known as J. Carlos (aka José Carlos de Brito e Cunha, pictured below) who would create intricate, art deco covers for the magazine from 1926 until 1930.
(1884 – 1950)
In his 50-year print career, it’s estimated he did a dizzying 100,000 drawings, most of which relfect his city of birth. José Carlos loved his ever-changing Rio so much that he very rarely left the city. In fact, he loved it so much that he declined, in a face-to-face meeting with Walt Disney in 1941, an invitation to work with him in Los Angeles. It’s also said that Disney’s Zé Carioca is modeled after José’s parrot drawings which Walt’s team took photos of during his visit to Rio (and in Brazil, Zé is short for José).
Over at the Jota Carlos Project, a team of dedicated people digitized in high definition nine years of the artist’s work from two of the most recognized magazines of the time, the aforementioned Para Todos and O Malho (of which he was also the director). And at Issuu, a journalism student did a wonderful 214 page visual thesis on J. Carlos.
In 2009, a documentary, six years in the making, was produced by the artist’s great-grandson. The film J. Carlos – A figura da capa can be seen below.
A second, shorter documentary was posted in 2015, also on J. Carlos’ work.
In the same year as the first documentary, the Académicos da Rocinha samba club honored the artist in their featured song, as can be heard and seen here (as well as towards the end of the 2009 documentary).