The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski

Jun 14, 2015 by

Air War 1944-SummerRudolph Belarski grew up in the hardscrabble world of coal mines in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. He finished the sixth grade and then entered the work force with his classmates at the Pittston Mines, where he labored for ten years, while he subscribed to a correspondence art school to follow his dream to become a celebrated illustrator.

In 1922 he moved to New York City to study at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where his classmates included Walter Baumhofer, Frederick Blakeslee, and John Fleming Gould. In 1928, he entered the pulp industry through Dell Publications, doing interiors and covers for adventure pulps about World War I, such as WAR ACES, WAR BIRDS, WAR NOVELS, and WAR STORIES. In later years, he worked for Fiction House and the Munsey chain of pulp magazines, painting covers for ACES, AIR STORIES, ALL-AMERICAN FICTION, ARGOSY, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, DOUBLE DETECTIVE, RED STAR ADVENTURES, SILVER BUCK WESTERN, WINGS, and other rough-paper titles.

By 1935 Rudolph  Belarski was one of Ned Pines’ top artists at Standard Publications, where he painted covers for AIR WAR, THE AMERICAN EAGLE, ARMY NAVY FLYING STORIES, BLACK BOOK DETECTIVE, CAPTAIN FUTURE, DETECTIVE NOVEL MAGAZINE, EXCITING FOOTBALL, EXCITING SPORTS, GIANT DETECTIVE, G-MEN DETECTIVE, THE LONE EAGLE, MYSTERY BOOK MAGAZINE, THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE, POPULAR DETECTIVE, POPULAR WESTERN, RAF ACES, SKY FIGHTERS, STARTLING STORIES, THRILLING ADVENTURES, THRILLING DETECTIVE, THRILLING MYSTERY, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, WEST, and other pulps from the Thrilling Group.

Following the Second World War, Rudolph Belarski became one of Ned Pines’ top paperback cover artists at Popular Library as well as a leading illustrator for the men’s adventure magazines. He finished his career as a teacher at the world’s foremost correspondence art school, the Famous Artists School of Westport, Connecticut. On Saturday, August 15th, at 8:45 PM, please join pulp art historian David Saunders for an exploration of the life and work of pulp artist Rudolph Belarski at PulpFest 2015.

Born in 1954, David Saunders is a New York artist. His work has been collected worldwide in museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Hirschhorn Museum of Art in Washington, DC. He has taught art at such colleges as, Yale, Oberlin, and the Kansas City Art Institute, as well as art schools in France, Korea, Mexico and Japan.

David’s father was the legendary illustrator, Norman Saunders. His mother, Ellene Politis Saunders, worked at Fawcett Publications as Chief Executive Editor for WOMAN’S DAY. In 1972, David became his father’s business secretary, which started a long project to catalog his father’s 7,000 published illustrations. He spent the next seventeen years gathering published examples of his father’s work from used bookshops and submitting each new entry to his father’s inspection. What began as a sentimental hobby for a father and son grew into an impressive archive of 20th century American illustration. After his father’s death in 1989, he completed the archive on his own. He interviewed his father’s surviving associates to record their oral histories. These transcripts helped to broaden his viewpoint of the popular culture publishing industry and also documented vital information about the lives of other artists. Some of this material has been published as biographical profiles in ILLUSTRATION MAGAZINE and several coffee-table art books on pulp artists.

David is, quite probably, the foremost scholar of American pulp illustrators. His free public website, Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists, has over three-hundred biographical profiles of these creators of popular culture. David continues to research, document, and promote a greater appreciation of pulp artists. To find out more, please visit davidsaunders.biz, normansaunders.com, and theillustratedpress.com.

(Rudolph Belarski’s cover to the Summer 1944 issue of AIR WAR is one of many covers that the talented artist painted for Ned Pines’ “Thrilling Group” of pulp magazines. To learn more about the artist, be sure to visit David Saunders’ Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists where you will find more than 300 biographical profiles of American pulp artists. For a wider sampling of the artist’s work, pick up a copy of John Gunnison’s BELARSKI: PULP ART MASTER, available through Adventure House.)Belarski