Alex Schomburg–Still Thrilling at 110!

May 10, 2015 by

Startling 39-09Born in Puerto Rico on May 10, 1905, Alex Schomburg moved to New York City in the early twenties to find work as a commercial artist. In 1925, Schomburg met publisher Hugo Gernsback, about a year before he launched the first specialized science-fiction magazine, AMAZING STORIES.

After seeing some of Schomburg’s art, Gernsback asked the artist to contribute some interior illustrations to his electronic and science magazines. In late 1925, Schomburg illustrated his first magazine cover, the December 1925 issue of THE EXPERIMENTER. Decades later, during the Second World War, Alex Schomburg would produce about fifty covers for Gernsback’s RADIO CRAFT magazine.

During the 1930s, Schomburg began to freelance for pulp magazines, creating black-and-white interior art for POPULAR DETECTIVE, THRILLING ADVENTURES, POPULAR WESTERN, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, and other pulps. He would paint his first science-fiction cover for the September 1939 issue of Ned Pine’s STARTLING STORIES. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that he became a regular cover artist for the science-fiction market. He was still contributing cover art to the science-fiction magazines of the early nineties.

Shortly after the appearance of his first science-fiction cover, Schomburg began to produce cover art for the comic book industry. His first covers were published by Timely Comics, the forerunner of Marvel Comics. Shortly thereafter, he began working for Ned Pines’ Standard Comics, the parent company of Better Publications and Nedor Publishing. He would produce about three hundred covers for Standard and two hundred for Timely/Marvel. His best remembered works are his covers for the Timely superheroes Captain America, the Human Torch, and Sub-Mariner.

In addition to his work for the pulp and comic book industry, Alex Schomburg also painted paperback covers for Ace and Popular Library, the hardbound Winston science-fiction juveniles, and most of the covers as well as interior art for Standard’s crossword puzzle and astrology magazines.

Startling Comics 48-01Alex Schomburg, whose career as an illustrator lasted for over seventy years, passed away on April 7, 1998, about a month shy of his 93rd birthday. He was a longtime and important contributor to Standard, the pulp and comic book publisher we’ll be saluting at PulpFest. He would have been 110 years old today and represents yet another reason to make 2015 a “Thrilling” year by attending PulpFest in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Our programming scheduled for August 13th through the 15th will feature presentations on Standard’s pulp detectives and western heroes, its pulp and comic book heroes, and Leo Margulies, the managing editor of the Standard pulp line, known as “The Little Giant of the Pulps.” We hope to see you in August. Click here to learn how to register for the convention.

(According to Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee, “Alex Schomburg . . . was the only artist I knew able to combine strong, dramatic layouts, and exciting superhero action with a simplistic, almost cartoony style of execution. One could never be sure if Alex was an illustrator who approached his work like a cartoonist, or a cartoonist who chose to render his artwork like an illustrator. Despite the quantity of work we gave him, despite the care and effort that went into every Schomburg cover, I cannot remember Alex ever being late with any illustration. He was as reliable as he was talented.” In addition to his work for Timely/Marvel, Schomburg contributed substantially to Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines and Comics, including the September 1939 issue of STARTLING STORIES and the January 1948 issue of STARTLING COMICS. To learn more about Alex Schomburg and other pulp artists, please visit David Saunder’s Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists by clicking here.)