Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pulp Doc

These are covers from the first two or three years of the popular DOC SAVAGE pulp magazine of the 1930s, taken from Heritage Auctions. The original Doc Savage novels were revived in the 1960s, and the paperback image was embodied by artist James Bama, using model-actor Steve Holland.

But the original Doc of the pulps was a more lithe visualization, not quite in line with author Lester Dent's descriptions of Doc, which more closely matched those of Bama's illustrations. Still, these Baumhofer illustrations make some great covers, and probably helped sell a lot of magazines in the depths of the Great Depression.


Chuck Wells said...

Nice post, and its very interesting to see how Bama adapted a few of these Baumhofer pulp covers for the later Bantam Books editions, sometimes with an outright homage - as in the case of "The Monsters" - and sometimes using an original Savage pulp cover image as the "muse" for an entirely different Bantam adaptation.

That "The King Maker" cover doesn't look like the Bantam edition cover at all, but it does remind me of a different paperback cover, I'm just blanking on which one at the moment.

Harry Lee Green said...

There was some homage to the originals, but I'm not sure how much of that was Bama's choice or the Bantam art director. The genius of the Bantam editions was taking a 1930s concept and by modernizing the covers make them appealing to the buyers of the 1960s. I think Bama's covers showed Doc as more of a superhero, as described by author Dent, much better than Baumhofer's Doc, who looked more like a collar ad model.

That's taking nothing away from Baumhofer, whose visualization of Doc was apparently appealing enough in that era to make Doc Savage a top-selling pulp magazine for many years.