I got some sad news this week. The cartoonist, writer, and collector extraordinaire, Francis Smith, who signed his work Smilby has passed away I first got to know Francis about 10 years ago after I cold called him. He had written what many still consider the best book about the history of pinup and glamour art, Stolen Sweets and I had the audacity to phone in order to pester him about some of the illustrations in the book that were unattributed but which I was convinced were done by Enoch Bolles. Other sections of the book (one is included below) had nice things to say about Bolles so I was guessing he would be be sympathetic to my cause. Francis graciously heard me out and we ended up speaking for nearly a half hour. By the end of our conversation we had agreed that the illustrations were indeed by Bolles. I followed up with several other calls and Francis connected me to another mentor, Reid Austin, the art editor at Playboy who convinced Hugh Hefner to hire on Alberto Vargas. Reid who alas, passed away two years ago, eventually became Vargas' personal assistant and editor at Playboy was a good friend of Francis, who himself contributed cartoons for Playboy for many years. Our relationship progressed to the point to where seven years ago I made the trip to the English countryside to visit the 400 year old (give or take a century) cottage Francis shared with his lovely wife Pam, a talented artist in her own right. Francis, his health flagging and eyesight fading but undimmed in spirit, greeted me--ginger and rye in hand--in their lovely garden where we talked about many things, including pinup. Inside the cottage I pored over his amazing collection of vintage pulps, many of which were reproduced in Stolen Sweets, and rare illustrated books by Barbier--whom he especially admired--and others. The shelves were stacked floor to ceiling with thousands of old 78's all in their original brown liners. Francis had one of the largest collections of blues and gospel records in the world (many of which have been remastered in a series of CD's. I think Francis may have written the liner notes). I had a grand time and ended up staying an extra day, having missed the last train back to London. In the years since Francis' health continued to ebb but he was comfortable to the end, supported by Pam's unflagging devotion, amazing energy and occasional sips of good wine that Pam would slip him while the nurses weren't looking. Francis will be missed by many but his words, art and spirit live on.