A spectacular surviving pulp cover painting by Norman Saunders for the Popular Publications August 1952 issue of New Detective magazine, Volume #18 Issue #1. Saunders masterfully employs an extreme perspective and palette to give the scene an intense sense of danger, tension and drama. During the 1950s heyday of pulp magazines, literally hundreds of titles would be competing for customers any given month and publishers used Saunders dramatic, erotic, and intense covers to give their magazines the edge they needed to attract potential buyers at the newsstand.
This unsigned work appears in the monograph on Norman Saunders written by the artist’s son David Saunders. Framed in a beautiful, high end, birds eye maple and gesso gallery frame. A published edition of New Detective magazine, August 1952 with the published artwork is included in the sale.
Saunders was a pulp artist of great talent who worked from the beginning to the end of an era, then made a smooth transition to the paperbacks. Born in 1907 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, his introduction to his eventual profession was a mail order art course. He soon landed at Fawcett Publications, where he was employed from 1928-1934.
He decided he wanted to become a freelance pulp artist, moved to New York, and studied under Harvey Dunn at the Grand Central School of Art. He painted for all the publishers and was known for his fast-action scenes, his beautiful women, and his ability to meet a deadline. He could and did it all–westerns, weird menace, detective, sports and even the ‘saucys’ (under the pen name of Blaine).
Some of his finest paintings were in science fiction: his covers for ‘Mystery Adventures’ were imaginative and superb in detail. Even though he was fast, producing one hundred paintings a year–two a week from 1935 through 1942–they were complete and without any compromise in quality.
After service in the Second World War he returned to the pulps, but also tackled paperbacks. He had pride in his work, loved pulp art, and had no misgivings. Each painting conformed to his highest standards, and he did the very best work he could within the time and monetary constraints. Some of his best paintings are preserved in a pristine state in a collection at Syracuse University. They were donated by A.A. Wyn of Ace Publications in the 1930’s and include his finest detective. western, and sports covers.
The Topps company employed Saunders’ talents for their line of bubble gum cards. The artist created the art for one of the most successful nonsport-card sets in history: Mars Attacks, in 1962. His Wacky Packs cards were even more of a winner: the series lasted from 1970-1977, making millions for Topps.