Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Evil Leopard Men, Commies, bikers and Nazis: more Norm Eastman paintings from the Oberg collection...


Recently, Rich Oberg — the premier expert on and collector of men’s adventure magazine art (and patron saint of this blog) — has been shooting and scanning up a storm.

He and I had been talking about the lurid, politically incorrect bondage-and-torture style cover paintings that helped give men’s adventure magazines the nickname “sweat magazines.” (Actually, sweat mags are a subgenre of men’s adventure mags, many of which rarely used sado-masochistic B&T cover art.)

After our conversation, Rich sent me a slew of photos and scans of some of his favorite sweat mag paintings and covers to show here in a series of posts.

Artists we’ve featured so far include Mel Crair, John Duillo, Bruce Minney, Walter Popp and Vic Prezio — and, most recently, Norm Eastman.

Today’s post provides a look at another set of rarely-seen Norm Eastman cover paintings from Rich’s collection.

Our previous Eastman post focused on the evil Nazi bondage and torture cover paintings that Eastman — and the sweat mag subgenre of men’s adventure magazines — are best known for.

The bad guys in the Eastmans shown in this post are more varied.

They include bloodthirsty Leopard Men, fiendish Commies and psycho bikers, in addition to some evil Nazis. 

The cover painting at the top is an unusual Leopard Men image.

As you may know if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I’ve done several previous posts about Leopard Men stories. They were popular subjects in men’s adventure magazines in the 1950s and 1960s.

But the typical stories and artwork involved members of the Leopard Society, which was a real cult in Africa. (For example, see the posts “Leopard Men Ripped Their Flesh!” and “Leopard Men and Leopard Women”.

The Eastman cover painting above is an odd one. It shows what seems to be Korean or Chinese Commies in African Leopard Men costumes. They’re getting ready to use their metal-bladed gloves to slice up a barely-clothed babe (who looks like favorite Eastman model Eva Lynd to me).

That painting was used as an inset panel on the cover of the June 1965 issue of MEN TODAY, promoting the story “RAVAGED BY THE BEASTS OF THE JUNGLE.”

The Cuban Commie Castro-lookalike in the Eastman painting shown below, used on MAN’S STORY in September 1965, is getting ready to whip a lingerie model with his belt in a dungeon-like room.

Luckily, for her, a James Bond clone is coming down the steps in the background to save her. Otherwise, she might end up fulfilling the threat in the title of the story the painting goes with: “WATCH HER DIE SCREAMING, GRINGO DOG.” (Click this link to check out some other wild evil Cuban Commie cover paintings and stories.)

Next is an Eastman painting that features some other Communist villains. This time, they’re Russian or East German Commies, tormenting another poor lingerie model in the “EAST BERLIN TORTURE PALACE.” (She looks like she might be based on frequent Eastman model Lisa Karan.)

Starting in the mid-1960s, motorcycle gang members were added to the list of damsel-torturing villains frequently seen on sweat magazine covers. Typically, there are some Nazi swastikas on the bikers’ clothes or in scenes with them, as in the Norm Eastman painting below, which appeared on the January 1970 issue of MEN TODAY.

The model used for this one looks like she might have been another Eastman favorite, Shere Hite, who later wrote the famous Hite Reports about female and male sexuality.

Finally, here’s another classic Nazi bondage and torture cover by Eastman, done for the November 1964 issue of MAN’S STORY.

Like many men’s adventure magazine cover paintings, it’s possible, even likely, that Eastman created it before the story was written.

Often, the editors would come up with a concept and attention-grabbing headline — like “RIDE THE NAZIS’ SWING OF AGONY, MY LITTLE ONE!” — and then have an artist do the cover painting before they assigned a writer to concoct some wild story to go with it.

Coming up, more classic sweat magazine paintings from the Rich Oberg Collection by the legendary pulp artists Norman Saunders and Basil Gogos.

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group.

– A New, Exclusive Authorized Digital Reprint

DEVINE’S GUIDE TO MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES

This hard-to-find guide was published in late 1998 by collector Bill Devine. It provides information on dates of publication, circulation, publishers and artists for magazines in the men’s adventure genre. Today, print copies of DEVINE’S GUIDE are scarce and expensive. Bill and I are now making a searchable, PDF copy available to readers of this blog for $9.99. 

Click this link to buy DEVINE’S GUIDE TO MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES via Payloadz.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Another look at Mort Kunstler’s superb illustrations for “His Majesty O’Keefe”


My plan to post another set of Norm Eastman paintings from the Rich Oberg collection today changed when I got a surprise email from Jane Kunstler, daughter of legendary artist Mort Kunstler.

She told me Mort wanted me to call him. Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Mort Kunstler was one of the best and most prolific illustration artists in America. Since the 1980s, he has focused on historical paintings.

Today, he’s especially known for his Civil War paintings and is considered one of greatest living historical artists in the world.

Some of illustration art Mort created between the late Fifties and late Seventies appeared in top tier periodicals like National Geographic. But much of the vintage magazine art he did was for men’s adventure magazines.

Among fans of that genre, Mort is probably best known for his cover paintings. (Click here to see some cool examples.) Occasionally, he also did interior illustrations for men’s pulp mags. And, last year I did a post about a superb series of interior illos Mort created for the condensed “Book Bonus” version of the novel His Majesty O'Keefe, published in the April 1954 issue of Sport Life magazine.

When I called Mort on the phone, I found out that post was one of things he wanted to talk to me about.

I had written that Mort’s O’Keefe illustrations look like they were done using the scratchboard technique. Mort told me they were actually done with black, gray and white paint on illustration board. He said he probably used a drybrush technique, which accounts for the “scratchy” look of some of the details.

I had also written that Mort did “hundreds — probably thousands — of cover paintings and interior illustrations for men’s adventure magazines.” Mort told me he didn’t know exactly how many he did, but it was between one thousand and two thousand, not “thousands.”

On the call, I asked Mort if he’d be willing to do an interview with me about his work for men’s adventure magazines. He said he would. I plan to schedule that interview soon and do a series of posts based on it, like the series I did after I interviewed Gil Cohen — another great artist who created hundreds of cover paintings and interior illustrations for men’s pulp mags.

For those readers who missed my original post showing Mort Kunstler’s illustrations for His Majesty O’Keefe, I’m reposting them today. As you can see from the two-page spread above and the other examples below, they’re masterfully done.

The book His Majesty O’Keefe is a South Seas adventure novel that was made into a rousing movie starring Burt Lancaster. It’s based on the true story of — and legends about — an Irish-American sailor and entrepreneur named David Dean O’Keefe.

In 1871 O’Keefe sailed from Savannah on a merchant ship to the South Pacific. According to legend, he was shipwrecked on the exotic island of Yap the following year. (In reality, he probably just landed there).

O’Keefe finds out that Yap could be a major source of copra — the dried coconut meat used to produce coconut oil, a highly valuable commodity at the time. However, the islanders had little interest in working to harvest large quantities of copra or in the goods German and Spanish traders offered them in exchange.

O’Keefe also learns that the most valued form of currency on Yap are large circular stones, called rai, or fei. The production of this unique stone money required Yap men to travel by sea to a quarry on faraway Palau to mine the stones, then bring them back via canoe and raft. It was a difficult, dangerous and often fatal enterprise.

This gives O’Keefe an idea. He finds a partner in Hong Kong who gives him the use of a large junk (a Chinese sailing ship). Then he strikes a business deal with the Yap Islanders.

He takes Yap men to the Palau quarry on his Chinese junk, gives them modern tools and gunpowder to speed up the quarrying process, and transports them and the big fei stones safely back to Yap on the ship. In return, the Yap islanders provide O’Keefe with huge quantities of copra that he sells in Hong Kong, making him rich.

Along the way, O’Keefe makes an alluring Yap babe his mistress, marries the beautiful half-breed daughter of white businessman on another island, gets caught in a love triangle between the two women, and has violent run-ins with hostile natives, rival copra traders and the infamous pirate Bully Hayes.

As legend and the novel have it, he ultimately becomes viewed as the King of Yap — thus “His Majesty O’Keefe” — creating one of the prototypes for future “white king” stories common in adventure novels and men’s adventure magazines in the 1950s and 1960s.

His Majesty O’Keefe was written by Gerald Green and Lawrence Klingman. Green went on to become a highly successful novelist and screenwriter, and co-creator of The Today Show.

Klingman’s career seems to have peaked with the publication of the O’Keefe novel.

The first edition of His Majesty O’Keefe was published in 1950 by Charles Scribner’s Sons. It has been reprinted several times since then in hardcover and paperback editions.

My favorite is the 1952 Universal Publishing “Giant” paperback edition.

That one features a cool, pulpy cover painting by Warren King, an artist who is best known for his political cartoons and comic book art. The Giant edition also has a classic pulpy cover blurb: “He Conquered A Paradise — And Its Golden Women.”

In 1954, the same year the Sport Life published the condensed version of the novel, the movie adaptation of His Majesty O’Keefe was released by Warner Bros.

It was filmed in Fiji over a period of eight months and generally follows the storyline in the novel.

If you haven’t seen the movie, seek it out. It’s a rousing South Seas adventure flick. (It’s available on DVD and is sometimes shown on the Turner Movie Channel, which has a trailer on its site.)

As the stills shown below suggest, the setting is exotic, Burt Lancaster is at his buff, manly peak as O’Keefe, and his leading ladies — Tessa Prendergast as the dusky Yap beauty Kakofel and Joan Rice as O’Keefe’s wife Dalabo — are both gorgeous.

Of course, since it was made in the Fifties, the movie had to leave out the topless women and the sexiest scenes depicted in the novel and Sport Life’s illustrated book bonus version.

However, like the book, the movie did spawn some cool art, such as the posters shown below.

The original Warner Bros. poster is a classic. But the French and German posters are my favorites. The French title for the film is Les Roi Des Iles, literally “King of the Islands.” The Germans called it Weiser Herrscher Uber Tonga, which means “White Ruler Over Tonga.” (I guess Tonga sounded better to the German distributors than Yap.)

If you’re a fan of exotic adventure, I highly recommend that you seek out copies of both the novel and movie version of His Majesty O’Keefe.

By the way, I know that Mort spells his last name with an umlaut accent mark above the u, like this — Mort Künstler. However, most people tend to spell his name without it. As a result, if you Google “Mort Kunstler” without the umlaut you get about 186,000 hits, compared to 9,870 hits if you use “Mort Künstler.” On this blog, I’ve decided to use the spelling that’s mostly likely to show up in searches.

Thanks again to Jane and Mort Kunstler for contacting me. I look forward to doing an interview with Mort in the near future.

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group.

Further reading and viewing about Mort Kunstler’s historical paintings and His Majesty O’Keefe

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Norm Eastman “sweat magazine” cover paintings from the Rich Oberg Collection


Today’s post features photos of some fantastic Norm Eastman cover paintings from the Rich Oberg Collection, provided courtesy of Rich (the world's foremost collector and authority on men’s adventure magazine art).

Eastman is the artist most closely associated with the so-called “sweat magazine” subgenre of men’s adventure magazines.

His cover paintings of wild bondage and torture scenes — especially those with fiendish Nazis torturing scantily-clad damsels in distress — are iconic, popular and notorious.

Indeed, Eastman covers are what many fans and critics commonly think of when they think about about the pulpy men’s adventure magazines published in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s (despite the fact that most of the 160 or so magazines in the genre didn’t use Eastman-style bondage and torture cover paintings).

Ironically, while you can find photos of Eastman covers in a number of books and on many websites, there’s very little information about Eastman himself in print or online.

So, I’ll start this post with a brief thumbnail bio pieced together from various sources...

Norman Robert “Norm” Eastman was born in 1931 in the small Canadian town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, “Canada's Chocolate Town” (home of Ganong Chocolates). His first formal training as an artist was at Mount Allison University in Sackville. The early artistic talent he showed there earned him a scholarship to The Slade School of Fine Art at University College in London.

In 1954, Eastman returned to Canada, where he worked as an illustrator for various Canadian publications, including Liberty, the Canadian Ladies’ Home Journal, Chatelaine and the Toronto Star Weekly.

Around 1959, Eastman moved to New York, where he became one of many illustration artists represented by the artist and artist representative Ed Balcourt, a legendary figure in the illustration art world. (There’s a great article about Balcourt by writer and pulp art maven Gary Lovisi in Issue Number Thirty-Two of Illustration magazine, a magazine I highly recommend to readers of this blog.)

During the 1960s and early 1970s, Balcourt kept Eastman busy as an illustration artist, primarily doing covers for men’s adventure magazines.

Eastman is probably best known for the cover paintings he created for men’s sweat mags published by B. R. “Bud” Ampolsk and Maurice Rosenfield (spelled Rosenfeld by some sources) through their companies Reese and Emtee, such as Man’s Book, Man’s Epic, Man’s Story, Men Today, New Man and World of Men. But he also did artwork for other major publishers of classic men’s adventure magazines, including Magazine Management and Stanley Publications.

After the men’s adventure magazine genre faded away in the mid-1970s, Eastman primarily worked as a paperback cover artist. In the 1980s and 1990s, his cover paintings appeared on manly action and adventure novels, erotic “sleaze” paperbacks and even on Harlequin romance novels.
In the later decades of his life, Eastman lived with his wife Jane in Lompoc, California, where he died in 2007.
The most extensive information about Eastman that I’ve seen is in an interview he did with comics and pulp art expert George Hagenauer in 2003. It was published in the original 2004 edition of the Taschen Publishing book Men’s Adventure Magazines, which you can sometimes find in the “Collectibles” tab in its Amazon.com listing or on AbeBooks.com. Unfortunately, the 2008 edition, though still a must-have book for men’s pulp mag fans, omits the Eastman interview and a whole chapter that featured Nazi bondage and torture covers.
The good news for readers of this blog is that both editions of the Taschen book feature covers and original cover paintings from the Rich Oberg Collection. And, Rich is a friend and patron saint of MensPulpMags.com.
All of the cover paintings shown in this post are from Rich’s vast collection. He bought many of them directly from Eastman, who he visited in Lompoc in 2004.

When I look at Norm Eastman paintings, I often try to guess if the distressed damsels in them are one of his favorite female models, Eva Lynd, Lisa Karan and Shere Hite. In the 1960s, all three of those lovely ladies posed regularly for reference photos used by Eastman and other New York-based illustration artists.

Eva Lynd also worked as a pinup model and an actress. For example, she was the cover model on the January 1959 issue of the bachelor magazine Modern Man. And, her acting credits include appearances episodes of Peter Gunn, The Thin Man, Hogan’s Heroes and Cagney & Lacey. She also appeared on The Steve Allen Show and had a role in the 1975 movie That Lady from Peking.

I know very little about Lisa Karan other than what Eastman said about her in his interview with George Hagenauer. “She had a nice sensual quality,” Norm noted. “She really had a shapely figure and she was good at posing.” (I wholeheartedly agree.)

Shere Hite is probably the best known of Eastman’s favorite female models. And, not just because she was a blonde bombshell.

In his interview with Hagenauer, Eastman recalled: “When she [Hite] was posing, she’d sometimes ask me questions about my sex life. I wondered what was going on, but she said it was for a book she was writing...posing was helping her pay her way while she wrote.”

When that book was published in 1976, it turned out to be a bombshell of a different sort. It was The Hite Report, a pioneering study of female sexuality that catapulted Hite to international fame. She went on to write several additional “Hite Reports,” including one about male sexuality. Today, Shere Hite is still famous and controversial. (Check out this recent article about her in The Guardian.)

I have my guesses about which of the cover paintings shown in this post feature the beautiful faces and figures of Eva, Lisa and Shere. I’ll let you study them and make your own guesses.

FYI, hair color is not a clue. In his interview with Hagenauer, Eastman said: “I’d paint them with different colors of hair depending on what was needed.”

Coming up on MensPulpMags.com: more Eastman “sweat mag” paintings from the Rich Oberg Collection, plus a look at some of Eastman’s later pulp paperback covers.

BTW, this is the fourth in a series of recent posts about artists who created some of the classic sweat mag covers. In case you missed the previous posts in the series, here are links to the posts about artists Mel Crair, John Duillo, Bruce Minney, Walter Popp and Vic Prezio.

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group.

Further reading for pulp art fans...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Men’s “sweat magazine” cover paintings from the Oberg Collection – Part 3: originals by Bruce Minney, Walter Popp and Vic Prezio...


Today’s post is the third in a series showing original men’s “sweat magazine” cover paintings from the Rich Oberg Collection (courtesy of Rich).

The first post in the series featured cover art by Mel Crair. The second focused on covers by John Duillo. Crair and Duillo both did hundreds of cover paintings and interior illustrations for men’s adventure magazines from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s.

The initial version of the post I did about Duillo included the painting shown at left. It’s an unsigned painting, but Rich and I both thought was by Duillo.

After I put up the post, I got an email from a reader of this blog named James, who has an incredible eye and in-depth knowledge about men’s adventure artists.

“I’d like to thank you for posting those John Duillo covers from the Oberg archives,” James said, “but the cover of Man’s Story, June 1971, was definitely painted by Bruce Minney. He used a much harder brush-stroke than Duillo did (although nowhere near as hard as Norm Eastman). Another clue is the typical ‘Minney gap’ between the bottom of the nose and the top of the lip on the model’s face.”

I sent the note from James to Rich Oberg.

Rich double-checked the provenance of the painting with the dealer he bought it from, then told me: “James is right. It’s a Minney. Great call! Give that man a cigar! This doesn’t happen very often and I love it. Minney covers are even harder to come by than Duillos, though neither are abundant.”

So, today’s post starts with the correctly-credited original painting that artist Bruce Minney created for the June 1971 issue of Man’s Story, one of the classic men’s sweat magazines. (Some people call all men’s adventure magazines “sweat magazines,” but Rich Oberg and I apply that term only to the lurid subgenre that regularly featured covers combining “Good Girl Art” with over-the-top bondage-and-torture scenes.)

The June 1971 Minney cover went with the tastefully-titled story inside, “THE SCREAMING NUDES AND THE NAZI HELL MASTER.”

As noted in a brief bio on the AskArt site, Minney was born in 1928 and lived in New York City. He did hundreds of covers and interior illos for men’s adventure magazines, as well as many paperback covers. He also worked as storyboard artist for NBC.

Below is another Bruce Minney Nazi B&T painting from the Oberg Collection.

It was used on the cover of the March 1970 issue of Men Today.

Obviously, it doesn’t go with the story in that issue titled “SEX CAPERS OF COED ORGY QUEENS.” I suppose it could conceivably go with “10 SURE WAYS TO MASTER A WOMAN OF FIRE.” But it actually goes with the story “VILE SECRETS OF HITLER'S HIDEOUS TORTURE RITES.”

Next up are examples of sweat mag paintings by some other highly talented and prolific illustration artists.

The one below, by Walter Popp, features the return of the sexy Screaming Nudes. This time, they’re on the cover of the September 1972 issue of Men Today and starring in the story inside, “SCREAMING NUDES FOR HITLER'S MINISTRY OF TERROR.”

As noted in the page about Walter Popp on the American Art Archives site (one of my favorites), Popp started out doing artwork for comics in the 1940s. In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, he created cover paintings and illustrations for the last of the all-fiction pulps, men’s adventure magazines, detective and mystery mags, mainstream periodicals and paperbacks.

Next, here are some wild originals from the Oberg Collection by Vic Prezio, another artist who created superb illustration art for many genres, from comics and men’s adventure magazines to paperbacks and classic monster magazines, like Creepy and Eerie.

The first one shows a damsel in distress falling headlong toward certain death after being pushed out of a plane by a Nazi bastard.

In the Vic Prezio painting below, evil Japs are the bad guys instead of evil Nazis. Like many men’s pulp mag cover paintings, this one was used on two different magazines.

It was initially featured on the cover of the January 1965 issue of Man’s Adventure, then on the cover of the March 1968 issue of Battle Cry.

Coming up in the next post, a look at some more rare men’s pulp magazine art from the Rich Oberg’s incredible collection.

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group.

– Announcing A New, Exclusive Authorized Digital Reprint –

DEVINE’S GUIDE TO MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES

One of the latest downloads in my Payloadz store is a digitized copy of the hard-to-find, now out-of-print DEVINE’S GUIDE TO MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES. This unique 35-page guide was written and published by hand in the late 1990s by collector Bill Devine. It provides information on dates of publication, publishers and artists of each magazine in the genre, a historical overview and more. Today, print copies of DEVINE’S GUIDE are hard to find and expensive. (I paid over $50 for mine and it took me months to find one.) Bill and I are now making a PDF copy available to readers of this blog for $9.99. 

Click this link to buy and download DEVINE’S GUIDE TO MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES via Payloadz.