This science fiction pulp gouache painting on illustration board by noted comic artist Charles Clarence Beck who signed much of his work C.C. Beck illustrates a poem by Donald Wandrei titled Marmora. The poem was published in the May 1930 issue of Weird Tales, but no illustration accompanied it when it appeared in the magazine. It's quite likely Beck illustrated the work on the personal suggestion of Wandrei, as both were attending the University of Minnesota in the period and shared similar interests, and the gouache may have been published alongside the poem in a small press or student publication in the late 1920s. Wandrei would frequently submit his poetry to small and student press magazines and then resell the same work to the pulp market and even the opportunity to appear in one of those more obscure would have represented a lucky break for the young Beck.
After leaving Minnesota for school at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, Beck took a job working as staff artist for Fawcett publications, first illustrating pulp magazines, and then, most famously comics. He would become the creator of Captain Marvel. Examples of Beck's early pulp color works are very scarce and this a sensational piece of work, with a cobalt blue color palette and precise landscape work which shows the influence of Rockwell Kent.
Three grotesque aliens with lizard like features attempt to navigate the mountainous terrain with text that reads "Out of the West, foul breezes sweep, Out of the dark where the black moons creep, With the breath of the web-faced things asleep In Marmora."
Illustration is dedicated by the artist (likely to Wandrei) in the lower margin and the caption appears in the image window. Handsomely framed behind glass in a gallery frame that mimics the reptilian inspired image.
Charles Clarence Beck (June 8, 1910 - November 22, 1989) was an American cartoonist and comic book artist, best known for his work on Captain Marvel at Fawcett Comics and DC Comics.
He was inducted into the comic book industry's Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1993. C. C. Beck was born on June 8, 1910 in Zumbrota, Minnesota. He studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and the University of Minnesota.
In 1933, Beck joined Fawcett Publications as a staff artist, where he created pulp magazine artwork. When the company began producing comic books in autumn 1939, Beck was assigned to draw a character created by writer Bill Parker called Captain Thunder. Before the first issue of Whiz Comics came out, the character's name was changed to Captain Marvel.
The popularity of Captain Marvel allowed Fawcett to produce a number of spin-off comic books and Beck to open his own New York City comics studio in 1941. He later expanded his studio, adding one in Englewood, New Jersey. Beck's studio supplied most of the artwork in the Marvel Family line of books. In this he acted as Chief Artist (akin to an Art Director), a role Fawcett formally recognized. This facilitated Beck's efforts to bring a coherent look to the stories with Captain Marvel and related characters, insuring they adhered to the style he originated. The Studio also did commercial art, most prominently a series of advertisements in comic strip form starring Captain Tootsie promoting Tootsie Roll. Done in the style of the Marvel Family books and similarly whimsical (this Captain had a large T on his shirt instead of a lightning bolt), the ads appeared in comic books (published by both Fawcett and its rivals) and in Sunday comic strip sections of newspapers.
After years of litigation due to a suit lodged by National Publications (publishers of DC Comics) against Fawcett for copyright infringement claiming that Captain Marvel was a copy of Superman, Fawcett in the early 1950s (partly in response to flagging sales) reached a settlement with DC in which it agreed to discontinue its comic line.
Beck had a short story titled "Vanishing Point" published in the July 1959 issue of Astounding Science Fiction.
His first return to comics was in the mid-1960s for the short-lived Milson Publications who published three issues of his creation Fatman the Human Flying Saucer. Then in 1973 he was the initial artist for DC Comics' revival of Captain Marvel, titled Shazam! due to trademark issues. Beck left after the tenth issue due to "creative differences" regarding plot lines. Subsequently at the invitation of E. Nelson Bridwell, Beck submitted a script for a new story "Captain Marvel Battles Evil Incarnate." After Bridwell returned it with extensive editorial changes Beck attempted to draw the rewritten version but became so dissatisfied with it that he tore up the artwork he had drawn thus far and returned the Bridwell draft to DC.
Beck had by then had relocated to Florida where, in his retirement, he produced a regular opinion column for The Comics Journal entitled "The Crusty Curmudgeon". One of his chief topics was his objections to what he saw as the growing realism in comics art (versus the simpler style he had employed).
Beck was guest of honor at the 1973 Comic Art Convention and the 1977 San Diego Comic Book Convention; memorably at the latter he in the evening played guitar serenading fans and guests poolside at the El Cortez Hotel. Beck attended the initial OrlandoCon in 1974 and was a regular attendee into the early 1980s. He was also a guest at the 1982 Minneapolis Comic-Con.
Beck in his later years began doing paintings recreating the covers of Golden Age comic books, both those featuring Captain Marvel and other superheroes and even some of funny animals (Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny). Beck's painting inspired by Carl Barks' unused cover sketch for the story "The Mines of King Solomon" (Uncle Scrooge #19, Sept.-Nov. 1957) was used as the cover when the story was reprinted in Gladstone Comic Album #1 (1987).
In the 1980s, C. C. Beck published a newsletter called FCA/SOB, which stood for Fawcett Collectors of America/Some Opinionated Bastards (the latter phrase humorously referring to himself).
Beck died in Gainesville, Florida of a renal ailment.
Beck was recognized for his work with formal nomination as a finalist for the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990, and induction in 1997. He was also inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1993. In 1977 he was awarded an Inkpot by the San Diego Comic Con.