More work from Portuguese artist, illustrator and designer Rui Ricardo, who did the handsome cover art for Stephen Spotswood’s Fortune Favors The Dead, discussed in a prior post. To see more of the artist’s work (and there’s a lot to gaze at) go to http://www.rui-ricardo.com
Let’s honor the postwar master artist/illustrator Robert Maguire (8.3.1921 – 2.26.2005), who only has one more to go before the century mark, and is credited with over 1,200 paperback covers in addition to his work in magazines, advertising and other media. Maguire was attending Duke University when the U.S entered WWII, and ended up in the infantry in the Italian campaign. Once mustered out, he studied at the Art Students League, graduating in 1949 and quickly finding work, first with Trojan Publications’ “pocket pulps” like Hollywood Detective Magazine.
Sadly, (but very understandably) the Robert Maguire website at ramaguirecoverart.com (a terrific site cataloging the master’s work and showcasing intriguing studio photos, sketches and more) was shuttered not all that long ago. You can still land at the URL, and see for yourself why it had to be taken down. Doubly sad that Maguire’s and so many of his revered postwar era peers’ work has been ‘appropriated’ by the less than scrupulous, showing up with frightening frequency on quickie sex and crime ebook covers and online ‘sale-ables’.
Jim Silke’s 2009 Dames, Dolls And Gun Molls – The Art Of Robert Maguire is a treasured tome in my writing lair’s bookcases. It would be impossible for me to load up all my favorite Maguire covers here, so only a few will have to do, like The Damned Lovely up above from 1955, The Brass Bed from 1960 and Mona Knox from 1962 below. It’s barely scratching the surface of this talented artist’s many works and diverse styles, but it’s good to remember – and honor – one of the very, very best of the 1950’s-60’s era PBO cover artists, whose work graces so very many mystery and crime fiction classics and quirky cult faves often seen here and at fellow noir culture fans’ sites. I’m sure someone (or someones) much better informed and scholarly than I will have suitable tributes come this time next year.
McCauley “Mac” Conner (1913 – 2018) often said that he considered himself a storyteller more than an artist, and didn’t care if his work ended up hanging on a wall in a museum or in the trash.
As it turned out, the successful postwar era illustrator’s work did indeed end up hanging on museum walls in the Museum Of The City Of New York’s 2014 retrospective, “Mac Conner: A New York Life” which showcased a generous selection of his prodigious output, linking his subjects and style to the so-called “Mad Men” era and aesthetic.
More of the artist’s work follows in the next post…
Pulp magazine and vintage paperback collectors have done a darn good job of tracking down writers’ pen names and identifying cover artists’ unsigned works. But the artists and illustrators who banged out the black & white interior spot illustrations – surely for starvation rates that wouldn’t buy a cup of java and a sinker – sadly will remain anonymous for the most part, with very, very few ever credited, and even the pulp experts often stumped. I sometimes think of them as the anonymous residents of the Tomb Of The Unknown Illustrators, such as these examples pulled from a couple issues of Spicy Detective magazines from 1940.
Paul Mann did the handsome retro-flavored cover art for Brian DePalma and Susan Lehman’s Are Snakes Necessary? profiled in a prior post. The Salt Lake City, Utah artist is an old-school illustrator employing a master craftsman’s skills with figures in a distinctly 1960’s/70’s era movie poster montage style. His work graces a number of the Hard Case Crime series novels, reviving the look of so many Robert McGinnis and other’s covers from the latter days of the postwar paperback era.
Mort Kunstler – The Godfather Of Pulp Fiction Illustrators by Robert Deis & Wyatt Doyle (and Mort Kunstler) was the first book to arrive as I replenish my woefully empty to-be-read spot on the writing lair’s endtable. Mind you, the actual reading went quick, this very handsome 130+ page 2019 hardcover being a little light on text. But the nine-page intro by Mort Kunstler himself (as told to Robert Deis) was an intriguing read nonetheless. As he explains right at the start, “The word Kunstler means artist in German”, his immigrant father (an amateur artist himself) kept the spelling, and the rest was probably destiny.
The book’s heavy on Mort Kunstler’s pulpy ‘men’s sweats’ and adventure magazine illustration work, filled with WWII combat scenes, Cold War era spies and exotic safaris, with only a few examples of the master’s crime pulp work included. But trust me, it’s worth it for that intro alone, even if you’ve already seen many of the illustrations included here at any of your favorite pulp, vintage illustration and retro-kitsch sites and blogs.
I posted about artist and illustrator John Duillo some time back (at the main site, not Tumblr) but never pointed out that Duillo was but one half of a powerhouse commercial illustration duo along with his wife, renowned romance novel illustrator Elaine Duillo.
Both Elaine and John were born in 1928. They met while attending the Manhattan High School of Music and Art, later marrying in 1949. From her start with Balcourt Art Service in 1959 through her retirement in 2003 (the year John Duillo sadly passed away), Elaine painted a broad range of magazine and paperback book covers, from mystery/crime fiction to science fiction and racy ‘sleaze’ titles, though she was most widely recognized as one of the premier romance novel artists, initially for gothic novels and later for Regencies and so-called bodice rippers. Duillo’s style was so popular it became known in the industry simply as “Elaines”. She sold her first cover for $150. At her peak, Elaine Duillo covers typically went for $8,000 or more. Elaine Duillo is an Illustrators Hall Of Fame inductee.
The mark she made on the romance genre is unquestioned. Still, you indulge me if I wish she’d squeezed in a few more crime fiction covers here and there, being certain that she’d have given that market’s greats some real competition.
See a following post for art and info on John Duillo…
Just ordered mine today from Auad Publishing: Austin Briggs – The Consummate Illustrator edited by Manuel Auad, text by David Apatoff, with a foreword by the artist’s son.
Briggs isn’t the first name that’ll come to mind when you think of so-called golden and silver age illustrators from the mid-twentieth century, at least among pulp, mystery and crime fiction enthusiasts. He worked primarily in the glossies (lucky fellow) and in advertising, but his enormous body of work included no shortage of dark and mysterious pieces from high profile magazine story assignments. Check out a previous post of mine on Austin Briggs (link below) for a few more examples of his work and more about the artist.
And try the link to Auad Publishing while you’re at it. What an interesting operation. I have a couple Auad books, so I know that Austin Briggs – The Consummate Illustrator will be a handsome piece. Manuel Auad produces a small but impressive list of titles, each a labor of love and honoring classic American and foreign illustrators. These are well made books done in short runs, most sold direct from the publisher, not in stores, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. There’s only so much to browse there, some of the titles already sold out. But the site’s definitely worth a visit for its Links page, with a great list of artists’ and illustration sites you’re bound to probe a bit.
Born in Minnesota, (unbelievably, in a railroad car parked on a spur!), Austin Briggs (1908- 1973) spent his childhood in Detroit, then moved to New York City as a teen, during the Depression, no less, to purse a career as an artist and illustrator. He began with low end ad agency work, his talent for figurative work quickly spotted, and was assigned to paint men and women into completed car ad illustrations. He began doing spot interior B&W’s for the burgeoning pulp magazine marketplace, which led to a job as the assistant to successful comic artist Alex Raymond, working on the Flash Gordon and Secret Agent Corrigan strips.
After WWII, Briggs hit the big time, doing both paintings and B&W pencil illustrations for the highly competitive ‘glossies’: Redbook, Reader’s Digest and The Saturday Evening Post, and along with illustration luminaries like Norman Rockwell, Robert Fawcett and Jon Whitcomb, was one of the founders of the Famous Artists School. You won’t find Austin Briggs work adorning 1940’s – 1950’s crime paperbacks or sleazy pulp mags, and his 1930’s pulp interior spots are largely lost, mostly unsigned and uncredited. But leave it to the ‘stiletto gumshoe’ to root up a few mystery and crime story illustrations done for the highbrow set nonetheless, for tales like “The Counterfeiters” and “The House Of Terror”.
I’ve looked, and unless I’m misspelling the artist’s name, I can’t find a thing about Adriano Rocchi. Not just online, mind you. I have several long bookshelves crammed with books on vintage paperbacks, pulp magazines, U.S. and European illustrators and sundry sleaze artists. But…nothing. Now lets guess from the examples I stumbled across that Rocchi is one of the many post-WWII era Italian pulp artists working in Giallo paperbacks, crime/horror/sleaze digests and film posters. If you know more, I’m all ears!