And They’re All-True.

al rossi true advetures march 1957

The men’s adventure (or so-called ‘sweats’) mags were what they were and I can’t say I’m much of a fan. Heck, even pulp mag veteran Mort Kunstler did his cover illustration for the March 1957 issue of True Adventures magazine under a pen name (brush name?), which tells me it wasn’t considered a premier venue. But, the interesting art often lurked inside those publications, with some nifty mystery/crime fiction halftone and duotone spots and spreads from Bill Edwards, Charles Copland, Gil Cohen and others.

Now I’m not sure which of that issue’s “true” tales the Al Rossi B&W illustration shown above was done for. Was it “Woman’s Secret Shame” or “Die, Little Lovely”? I’m pretty certain it wouldn’t have been for “What Are Your Homosexual Tendencies?”, but then, those were very different times…

True Adventures March 1957

Dangerous Bluff.

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Illustrator Thornton Utz depicting a tense standoff for Thomas Walsh’s Dangerous Bluff (”Who would give in, the detective or the gunman with the human shield?”) from the Saturday Evening Post in 1960.

Kirilin’s “Gun Crazy” Series & More.

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You’ve probably seen a couple of these photos  (the “stiletto gumshoes” in particular) a zillion times on Tumblr, Pinterest and elsewhere. I know I have. What I don’t see very often is anything mentioning who shot them. They’re by Israeli photo-artist Vladimir “Volf” Kirilin, including some shots here from his “Gun Crazy” and “In The City Of The Moonlight” series. Look for more of the master’s work at 500px.com.

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Paul Mann.

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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.

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Noir-ish Nicole.

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Nicole Kidman, chameleon that she is, posing for Vogue Australia in 1994 in a 1930’s retro-noir-ish looking photo suite that could be studio stills lifted from a pre-WWII proto-noir film. (I believe that’s then-spouse Tom Cruise lurking in the background of one shot.) By photographer and film director Rocky Schrenck.

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Brent Joseph Lynch

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Brent Joseph Lynch studied at the Vancouver School Of Art And Design and England’s St. Martin’s School Of Fine Art, eventually working under Nicholas Ray and David Hockney before launching his own successful career as an illustrator and muralist. His fine art work filters sleekly modern and sometimes nearly noir-ish contemporary culture iconography through an ‘Hopper-esque’ style of simplicity, depicting everything from intimate vignettes to blatantly nostalgic scenes.

Spot some influences? We’ll all see some, from Peregrine Heathcote to Jack Vettriano to Edward Hopper to any other of a long list of contemporary painters mining retro-flavored settings and tropes. Myself, I really like the things Lynch is probing in these pieces, and I eagerly look forward to seeing where it all goes.

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Arseniy’s Toying With Me…

Arseniy Semyonov

Consider it a story prompt: This photo by Arseniy Semyonov could spark at least a dozen different tales, each scenario deliciously dark and probably deadly.

A private eye’s just been handed that photo by his secretary? Or a meeting with a classic femme fatale of a client has just wrapped up, the gumshoe assigned to hunt for her (most likely dead) lover? Heck, that fellow could be a pulp scribe holed up in a grungy motel room to complete his hard-boiled masterpiece, the silhouette of a curvy vision in the doorway no more than a figment of his liquor and cigarette fueled imagination.

Damn, I love/hate when pictures set me off like this…

More From Richard Blunt

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More work from UK painter Richard Blunt. See a prior post for additional paintings from this modern realist juxtaposing retro imagery with modern themes while exploring his primary interest: the depiction of dramatic light.

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Richard Blunt

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UK artist Richard Blunt hails from West Midlands, studied 3D design, then found himself homeless during his 20’s, gigging with various bands before rediscovering his visually creative side and taking up painting in earnest. His particular interest: the depiction of dramatic light in realistic images, so it’s no surprise that he’d name artists like Michelangelo Caravaggio (almost synonymous with chiaroscuro to many) as an inspiration. Some will see echoes of Scottish painter Jack Vettriano in Blunt’s work, but then some see Vettriano’s influence every time they see a painting of a vaguely retro fellow in a white shirt, suspenders and a brimmed hat.

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Myself, I’m seeing Hamish Blakely, Rachel Bess and Fabian Perez as just a few of the diverse crop of contemporary painters currently juxtaposing retro iconography taken from Golden Age Hollywood films and even postwar vintage illustration with edgier or ironic modern themes and treatments. The result? Often not unlike Neo-Noir in film and literature.

But as always, I’ll leave all that stuff to the professors and art critics and just enjoy the work. More of Richard Blunt’s paintings follow in a subsequent post.

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