This original gouache cover painting by Mort Kustler appeared on the June 1959 cover of Male magazine, illustrating an interior story titled "Madame Penal". The cover slug text says it all: "Dramatic saga of the young woman who ruled the Middle East's Cafard Compound, and of the handful of Americans and 1500 starved and broken wretches forced to kneel and hail her as... Madame Penal". Signed lower right and simply matted and framed under glass, a copy of the published magazine is included in the sale.
In the late 1950s into the 1970s, men's magazines exploited Cold War tensions and capitalized on prevalent working class American fears. "The Sweats," as they are commonly known, followed the blueprint set by the pulp magazines of the previous generation, depicting perceived enemies as savages, Nazis, and Communist torturers.
Leading illustrators in this strangely subversive genre, such as Norman Saunders, James Bama, Norm Eastman, Rafael DeSota and Mort Kunstler, created sensational, figurative illustrations executed in a style markedly similar to Socialist Realism and its associated propaganda imagery.