The term pulp fiction has always had a certain resonance; but it is the artwork--bold, energized, dramatic, garishly colorful, and frequently grotesque--that has made pulp magazines memorable to so many people. Pulp Art is the groundbreaking--and ultimate--book on one of America's most important and spectacular forms of illustration art. At last, preserved in this volume are most of the still-existing originals created for the pulp covers, never before seen in all their sharply focused, vibrantly colored brilliance. Robert Lesser, a pioneering collector of this work and an expert on American popular culture, has assembled a gallery of these now-priceless originals. The dynamically pulp-flavored text is a complete historical survey of the pulps and their most important cover artists--Virgil Finlay, J. Allen St. John, Rafael de Soto, Hannes Bok, George and Jerome Rozen, Frank R. Paul, and many others. Also offered are critical discussions of individual paintings, as well as the major themes of the pulp magazines.
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Several famous fantasy and science fiction authors had their beginning in the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, including Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury (not to mention Dashiell Hammett and Tennessee Williams). There were also crime fighters so popular they had their own magazines, such as the still-popular Doc Savage and the Shadow. But besides the writers and the series heroes, there was yet another element for which the lurid pulp magazines (called "pulp" in reference to the cheap grade of paper they were printed on by the millions) are fondly remembered to this day: the cover art. Robert Lesser offers a fascinating history from the perspective of the commercial artists who produced this often less-than-respectable work, thereby bringing the acclaim that these now mostly forgotten artists richly deserve. The author also includes 18 essays about various aspects of the long extinct industry, from such legendary SF scholars as Forrest J. Ackerman and Sam Moskowitz. Needless to say, the book is also stuffed with some amazing artwork. Pulp Art is a perfect introduction to a once nearly lost aspect of pop culture, which just now is being properly appreciated. --Stanley Wiater
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