Charles Reginald Thomson was born April 8, 1881 in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father, Adam Thomson, was born 1837 in Scotland. His mother, Wilhemina M. Thomson, was born 1858 in Scotland. His parents married in 1879 and had four children, of which he was the second born. His older sister Frances was born in 1880 and his two younger sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, were born in 1884 and 1890. The family lived at 14 Greenbank Terrace. His father was a banker.
Both he and his sister Elizabeth had natural drawing talent. After finishing school they both studied to be professional artists at Edinburgh College of Art.
In 1913 he and his sister Elizabeth came to America to seek their fortunes as commercial artists. They moved to 64 Vine Street in the Corona Park section of Queens in New York City.
His sister soon married Patrick Sheehan, a department store salesman, after which she abandoned her art career. They married couple moved to 138-12 61st Road in Flushing, Queens, NY, where they raised a son, Eugene Sheehan, who was born in 1915.
In 1915 the father died at the age of seventy-eight in Scotland. After the father's death his fifty-seven-year-old widowed mother and youngest sister Mary (age twenty-five) came to live with with him in New York City.
In 1917 he was hired to work full-time as a staff artist on the weekly newspaper supplement Grit, which was produced by The Grit Publishing Company at 152 Third Street in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which is about forty miles West of Scranton, PA. He and his mother moved to Williamsport and lived ten blocks north at 428 Glenwood Avenue. Grit had been started thirty years earlier as a Sunday supplement in The Williamsport Daily Sun & Banner, but by 1915 Grit was an independent publication with a nationwide circulation of 300,000.
On September 12, 1918 C. R. Thomson registered for the draft during the Great War. He was recorded at the time to be thirty-seven, five-foot-two, 138 pounds, with blue eyes and dark brown hair. He was not selected for military service.
In the 1930s his pen and ink story illustrations were published in pulp magazines produced by Street & Smith, such as Love Story, Detective Story, Complete Story, Top-Notch, and Astounding Stories.
During the Great Depression he won a competition to paint a mural for the WPA Federal Art Project, an enlightened government program that provided relief income for artists. Several other pulp artists also worked on mural projects for this same government program, such as George Avison, Delos Palmer, Elton Fax, Lee Browne Coye, and Remington Schuyler.
By 1940 he and his mother and sister Mary had moved to 101-70 Nicolls Avenue in Corona, Queens, NY.
On April 27, 1942 he registered with his local draft board during WWII. He was recorded at that time to be sixty-one, short, slender, with blue eyes, gray hair, and a brown mole on his right knee. He never married.
His widowed mother Wilhemina died in Corona, Queens, NY, on January 7, 1947 at the age of eighty-nine.
In 1948 he designed and painted a set of Christmas cards for the American Greeting Card Company, and in the 1950s he created another set for the Sunshine Card Company.
Charles R. Thomson died at the age of eighty-four in Corona, Queens, NY, on October 15, 1965.
© David Saunders 2013