120 Years of Frederick Blakeslee

Dec 4, 2017 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 Frederick Blakeslee. Born on December 4, 1898, next year will mark the 120th anniversary of his birth.

Trained in mechanical drafting, Blakeslee began to study art at the Pratt Institute while working for the Curtiss Aeroplane Factory. Among his classmates were Walter Baumhofer, John Fleming Gould, and Rudolph Belarski. The latter helped Frederick Blakeslee to get his first cover assignments for the pulp magazines.

According to pulp art historian David Saunders, “Blakeslee became a leader in the field of aviation pulps, as well as a top cover artist for railroad pulps. He was also a top pen & ink man, who drew over one thousand interior black and white story illustrations for Popular Publications, his primary publisher. Blakeslee painted 423 pulp covers — 306 of those appeared on every issue of BATTLE BIRDS, CAPTAIN COMBAT, DARE-DEVIL ACES, DUSTY AYRES AND HIS BATTLE BIRDS, and G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES . . . an amazing feat that no other pulp artist can claim.”

After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve during the Second World War, freelance work became harder to find. Frederick Blakeslee returned to industrial drafting, where he finished his professional career. On March 5, 1973, the artist passed at age 74.

Make your plans to celebrate “The Armistice that Ended The Great War” and “120 Years of Frederick Blakeslee.” 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.

(G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES debuted with its October 1933 issue. It ran for 110 issues through its June 1944 number. Published by Popular Publications, the magazine featured a lead novel — written by Robert J. Hogan — and cover art by Frederick Blakeslee. John Fleming Gould — a pen-and-ink artist who will also be celebrated at PulpFest 2018 — contributed the interior art.

Blakeslee’s cover for the January 1935 number of G-8 illustrated Hogan’s lead novel, “The X-Ray Eye.” The author’s and artist’s version of World War I took a rather fantastic bent, an idea that will likewise be explored at PulpFest 2018.)