But this year we published our first book that showcases original paintings done for stories in MAMs: POLLEN’S WOMEN: THE ART OF SAMSON POLLEN (available on Amazon and eBay — and on the increasingly popular Book Depository site, which offers free shipping worldwide).
POLLEN’S WOMEN includes photos of dozens of MAM paintings by the prolific illustration artist Samson Pollen, each reproduced in full color on a single page.
On nearby pages, we show scans of the story spread each painting was used for, taken from issues in my magazine collection.
Sam is one of the last living grandmasters of men’s adventure mag illustrations.
He created hundreds of paintings for the genre during its golden age, from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s.
MAM artwork and paperback cover paintings were his bread and butter as an illustration artist.
In both of those realms, Sam is one of the greats.
A couple of years ago, my friend, MAM art collector Rich Oberg, told me Sam was alive and well and gave me his contact information.
Sam graciously agreed and gave us access to the photos he had taken of his MAM and paperback paintings.
Wyatt and I then spent many hours talking with Sam about his career and taping interviews with him.
POLLEN’S WOMEN is the first result of those efforts. It focuses on MAM artwork Sam did that features images of alluring women. (We’re already working on a second volume titled POLLEN’S ACTION, that will focus on Sam’s action and adventure artwork.)
After POLLEN’S WOMEN was released, I received emails and Facebook messages from several art collectors asking me if Sam still has any of the paintings featured in the book and if he’d be willing to sell them.
The answer is yes. The paintings from POLLEN’S WOMEN that Sam has for sale are on pages 30, 36, 67, 74, 75, 104, 109, 120, 123, 127, 128 and 129 in the book.
I’m showing watermarked shots of those paintings in this post, along with scans of the pages in POLLEN’S WOMEN that show the story spreads they were used.
If you’re interested in buying one or more of these classic Pollens, you can email Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org. His asking price for each of them is $900, which includes shipping in the US and insurance.
Like many men’s adventure mag paintings Sam created, he painted the one on page 30 (shown at the top of this post) to be reproduced as a duotone — a term for an illustration that combines shades of one color and shades of black.
It’s a red-hued duotone that was first used in STAG, November 1966, for the story “The Fraulein Trap.” It was then later reused, in black-and-white, for the story “Peggy’s Wildest Summer” in TRUE ACTION, October 1973.
The use of duotone illustrations was common in men’s adventure magazines and other 20th Century periodicals that wanted to show as much visual pizzazz as possible, but didn’t have sufficient budgets from sales and advertising to use full color on their inside pages given the printing technology available at the time.
The Editor or Art Director would pick a color for the duotones to be used in a particular issue. Red was a common choice, since it lent itself to creating flesh tones. But there are also many examples of duotones in other colors in MAMs and other 20th Century periodicals, including blue, green, orange, and yellow.
Top MAM artists like Sam Pollen became masters of artwork that would be printed as duotones. The Art Director would tell them what color to use. They would create their paintings with shades of that color and black and black and white paint. The best could create duotones paintings that often seem to have multiple colors. It was a special, now largely lost, artistic skill.
Due to the limitations of the printing and paper quality available, the duotones you see in men’s adventure magazines are not nearly as lush as the original paintings, even though the paintings have a limited palette. Sam became especially adept at duotones because he did so many of them for the Atlas/Diamond mags. Unlike some other artists who worked for the genre, Sam preferred doing interiors for MAMs rather than cover paintings. He told Wyatt and I that he liked the space interiors gave him to envision the scenes he painted.
Sam’s red duotone painting on page 36 of our book (shown above) was first used in STAG, February 1968, for the story “Expedition to the ‘Strange Women’ Tribe of New Guinea.” As often happened with men’s adventure mag artwork, it was later reused in another issue. In this case, it was reused, in black-and-white, for the story “Seduction Village of Stone Age She-Devils” in FOR MEN ONLY, Annual No. 6, 1970.
The painting on page 67 of POLLEN’S WOMEN (shown below) appeared in black-and-white in STAG Annual No. 1 (1964), for the story “The Five Who Survived 60 Days in Japan’s Underground Giant Coffin.”
Since Sam painted it in two colors, it was probably first printed as a red duotone in some other issue of a Magazine Management MAM. Unfortunately, I haven’t found it yet. (If you happen to know which issue the duotone version appeared in, please shoot me an email and let me know.)
When magazine Art Directors knew a painting would only be printed in black-and-white, they told the artist that and the artist usually did the painting in black-and-white.
One of Sam’s black-and-white illustrations is shown on page 74 of the book. It appeared as such in MEN, December 1966, where it was used for the story “The Dozen Wild Beauties on Jake Scott’s ‘Free Love’ Island.”
The original Samson Pollen painting on page 75 was done for the story “The Notorious Woman at Beach Camp 40” in STAG, July 1967.
As you can tell, red duotones were popular in the Atlas/Diamond MAMs.
Sam’s red duotone on page 104 was in MAN’S WORLD, October 1967, for the story “Entombed 74 Days in ‘Naked Virgin’ Mine.”
Page 109 of POLLEN’S WOMEN features another red duotone by Sam, used in STAG, January 1972, for the story “The FBI and the Great Mob Double-Cross.”
His black-and-white painting on page 120 was used in TRUE ACTION, July 1967, for the story “The Flesh Raiders.”
Sam created the red duotone on page 123 for the for the story “General Hooker’s Woman” in MALE, December 1969.
Blue duotones were less common than red ones, but not uncommon in MAMs.
Page 127 in POLLEN’S WOMEN showcases a blue duotone Sam’s did for the story “The Caribbean Kingdom of Six-Foot Sarah Glad” in MALE, September 1960.
The painting on page 128 was first used in STAG, January 1964, for the story “Inside a Communist All-Woman Penal Camp.”
It was later recycled in black-and-white in ACTION FOR MEN, September 1966, for the story “The Hushed-Up Scandal of Russia’s Sin Stockades”
Page 129 features Sam’s painting for the story “World War II’s Forgotten Sailor and His Desert Shangri-La” in STAG, January 1960. (The two page scan from that magazine is shown above, on the page with the scan of “The Caribbean Kingdom of Six-Foot Sarah Glad.”)
As I write this post, all of the original Samson Pollen paintings shown in this post — which had been stored in his home for five decades until we worked with him to produce POLLEN’S WOMEN — are now available for purchase directly from him.
It’s one of our best-selling books to date.
We’re especially gratified by the positive reviews it has received from people Wyatt and I are fans of, including: writer and pulp maven Andrew Nette on his Pulp Curry site; magazine columnist and author Laura Wagner in the June 2018 issue of CLASSIC IMAGES magazine; fanzine publisher Justin Marriott in issue #10 of his MEN OF VIOLENCE fanzine; pulp maven Morgan Holmes on his Castalia House blog; and, comics legend and captain of the mighty Airship 27 publishing imprint Ron Fortier on his Pulp Fiction Reviews blog.
POLLEN’S WOMEN has also been given rave reviews on Amazon from legendary comics and action/adventure writer Chuck Dixon, and from Dan Leo, author of the mind-blowing novels RAILROAD TRAIN TO HEAVEN and THIS WORLD OR ANY OTHER WORLD.
Wyatt, who designs our books, tells me our second volume showcasing original Samson Pollen artwork should be available by Christmas.
If all goes well, we also hope to do a book showcasing Sam’s paperback cover art.
Stay tuned to this blog or the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group for an announcement of the publishing dates.
Thanks again to Sam Pollen and his wife Jacqueline for making it possible for us to bring his work to the attention of modern fans of classic illustration art.
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CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO SEE A 52-PAGE PREVIEW OF POLLEN’S WOMEN