A truly bizarre pop culture cover painting for the August 1957 edition of the short-lived True Strange Magazine. The title is fascinating to us, an attempt to merge the men’s magazine post-war-pulp genre with Weekly World News inspired supermarket tabloid fare; with an odd supernatural, occult stories angle sprinkled in – all marketed with lurid cover paintings of celebrity icons like James Dean, Elvis Presley, Sophia Loren and–in this instance–Marilyn Monroe. The illustrator of these covers was Thomas Beecham, who later became known as a go-to artist for Western and wildlife art.
This cover painting is comprised of a montage of Marilyn Monroe imagery. The lower right shows a young Norma Jeane being manhandled by a farmhand, the upper left shows a workingman face down on a tavern table with a bottle in his hand (likely first husband James Dougherty), and in a neat touch by the artist, the lower-left has a hand painted calendar pin-up image collage element, which intentionally appears as a worn and previously folded magazine tear page – as a homage to the now historically important centerfold nude image of Marilyn Monroe from the first issue of Playboy Magazine taken by Tom Kelley. Central to the scene is a gimlet eyed view of Marilyn with signature bombshell hair and makeup. This was published five years before the star’s death by overdose, during a period where evidence of Monroe’s emotional fragility and substance abuse were becoming impossible to hide, and common tabloid fodder. The published magazine cover teased an article on “The Fantastic Dream That Brought Fame To Marilyn Monroe” but the artwork suggests a much darker story. Handsomely matted and framed under glass in a period limed wood vintage frame. A High-grade complete edition of the magazine in included in the sale.