125 Years of Eugene Frandzen

Apr 13, 2018 by

Beginning on Thursday evening, July 26, and running through Sunday, July 29, PulpFest 2018 will honor the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. On November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed that brought more than four years of hostilities to a close. The convention’s focus will be the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century. It will also explore the depiction of war in popular fiction and art.

One of the leading artists who brought The Great War alive for pulp readers was Eugene M. Frandzen. Born on April 13, 1893, today marks the 125th anniversary of his birth.

Orphaned in his early teens, Frandzen used his inheritance money to study at the Art Institute of Chicago. According to pulp art historian David Saunders, the artist moved to New York City in 1921 and opened an “illustration studio.” Not long after, “his pen and ink story illustrations began to appear regularly in THE NEW YORK TIMES.” While he continued his studies under Dean Cornwell and others, Frandzen found more work as a magazine illustrator. “From 1929 to 1939 his work regularly appeared as interior story illustrations and covers for many aviation pulp magazines, such as AIRPLANE STORIES, FLYING ACES, THE LONE EAGLE, SKY BIRDS, SKY FIGHTERS, WAR ACES, and WAR BIRDS.

During the 1930s, Eugene Frandzen became a mainstay for Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines. The artist painted all of the covers for the Thrilling Group’s SKY FIGHTERS beginning with its first issue — dated July 1932 — until he left the pulp field in 1939. Likewise, starting with the first issue of THE LONE EAGLE — dated September 1933 — Frandzen’s cover art appeared on all but two issues of the magazine through its April 1939 number.

The artist returned to his native California in 1937 and turned to landscape art. He also taught a printmaking class at his home and regularly exhibited in both local and national art shows. Eugene M. Frandzen passed away on July 5, 1972.

Make your plans to celebrate “The Armistice that Ended The Great War” and “125 Years of Eugene Frandzen.” We’ll also be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of science fiction Grand Master Philip Jose Farmer and welcoming award-winning author Joe Lansdale as our guest of honor.

Please join us July 26 – 29 for PulpFest 2018 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, just outside Pennsylvania’s Steel City. We hope to see you there.

(THE LONE EAGLE debuted with its September 1933 issue. It ran for 66 issues through its June 1941 number. The title was then changed to THE AMERICAN EAGLE for eight more issues. It finished its run as AMERICAN EAGLES with its Spring 1943 number. Telling the heroic adventures of Air Intelligence Agent John Masters, “the world’s greatest Sky Fighter,” the pulp debuted in the late summer of 1933.

Published by Standard Publications, many of the adventures of The Lone Eagle are believed to have been written by F. E. Rechnitzer. The “Lt. Scott Morgan” house name masked the author’s true name. Robert Sidney Bowen probably contributed most of the later novels. In all, 75 tales of “the world’s greatest Sky Fighter” would appear in the variously titled pulp, published for ten years by the Thrilling Group of magazines.)