Ed Vebell's T3I Modeling Photos
Bruce Cranner as Jupiter Jones
Rolf Munson as Pete Crenshaw
Rolf Munson as Bob Andrews
All photos on this page courtesy of Ed Vebell
with thanks to Dan Napolitano and Bruce Cranner
On November 1, 2009 I was pleased to receive the following e-mail message:
I'm Bruce Cranner and I grew up in Westport, Ct. When I was 14 Ed Vebell, an illustrator, hired me to be the model for Jupiter Jones for several of The Three Investigators books. My friend Rolf Munson was the other model. I have copies of "The Mystery of the Singing Serpent" and "The Mystery of the Shrinking House" and I appear in these books. Ed Vebell was a very cool guy. He drove a 1950's era Mercedes 350 convertible and had a fantastic studio. Ed's daughter, Andra, is also a model in some of the books.
Bruce A. Cranner
After responding to this message and referring Bruce to various pages on this site and to the modeling photos displayed on Philip Fulmer's T3I site, I received the following message that same evening:
I just read (Richard) Webb's description of his photo shoot and it is similar to mine. But, the Jupiter in "Singing Serpent" is me - I have dark brown hair and a very peculiar "thickness" of body and an odd-shaped hand. You can see how the left hand of the Jupiter character splays outward to the left; my hand still does that and in fact my mother bought a copy of the book once when she saw the boy on the cover's hand with that odd finger position. The interior illustrations are me, too.
Coach Hall from Bedford Jr high referred Mr. Vebell to us - Rolf and I were football players and wrestlers - but as it happens Mr. Vebell and my dad knew each other. My dad, Brian Cranner, was also an illustrator and was responsible for all of the Art Direction and book and album art for the Children's Television Workshop in its early days. He is best known as the man who designed the Sesame Street sign and the first Sesame Street album cover. He told me he first drew Cookie Monster based on me - I was very chunky as a kid - but he was kidding.
Thanks for the photos of Mr. Vebell's home and studio. His collection of military stuff was really fun - and I remember the time fondly. The pay was good, too!
In December 2009, while rummaging through his vast files of photos, Ed Vebell located two additional packets of Three Investigators modeling shots that were taken in 1972. These packets contained 15 photos that had never been seen before by T3I fans. On December 21, 2009, I forwarded two of these photos to Bruce and he responded:
Thanks for sending these along. The photos you have attached show me in the foreground (the chubby kid in the striped shirt) and Rolf Munson in the background.
Best to you for the holidays.
All of the following fifteen photos were probably shot on the same day with Rolf Munson changing his upper body attire to reflect either the Pete or Bob character. Many of these photos are redundant and I've grouped them together in ways that make sense to me. In most cases it's difficult to tell exactly which poses Mr. Vebell used when illustrating the covers for #17 - #19 or the covers for the Windward Paperbacks. He seemed to use a little bit from all of them, maybe combining a hand and arm position from one photo with a facial expression from another. Enjoy!
Photo #1 is the only one from this batch that was taken in Ed Vebell's driveway in front of his garage. The remainder were all shot in front of the white screen in Ed's studio over the garage.
Rolf Munson is dressed as Pete.
These shots were most likely taken with the cover for the Windward paperback of "Terror Castle in mind but could also have provided some pieces for the hardback "Phantom Lake"
Windward paperback, 1972.
Again, it's difficult to be sure exactly the scene for which these photos were intended to be used. I can see inspirations for the Windward "Terror Castle", the hardback "Phantom Lake" and even the hardback "Singing Serpent".
In photos #7 & 8 Rolf Munson is dressed as Bob.
Random House hardback, 1973
Photos #9 through #11 don't really match any of Ed's covers but I can most easily see where they might have been used to help create the covers for the Windward paperback "Stuttering Parrot" or for Random House hardback #18 "Shriking House". The jacket Rolf Munson is wearing in photos #10 and #11 definitely matches the one Pete is wearing on the cover of "Shrinking House".
What do YOU think?
Random House hardback, 1972
This final group of photos includes shots made to help Ed create some of the internal illustrations found in the original Random House hardback edition of #17 "The Mystery of the Singing Serpent" from 1972. Photos #12 - #14 were clearly used for the third illustration in the book. In these photos Rolf Munson is incorrectly dressed as Bob whereas the illustration found in the book correctly depicts Pete. If they still exist, it would be neat to see Ed's preliminary sketches with any notes penned on them by Eugenia Fanelli!
Photo #15 shows Bruce and Rolf posing for the second illustration in the book where The Three Investigators and Allie are on the patio peering through the wisteria watching an odd group of people "invoking the power of Belial". Seconds later the serpent sings!
Internal illustration #3 from
"Singing Serpent", 1972
Detail of illustration #2 from
"Singing Serpent", 1972