Life and Death on the Front Lines: The Art of the War Pulps

Jun 8, 2018 by

At this year’s convention, PulpFest 2018 will honor the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War. Our programming will focus on the so-called “war pulps” of the early twentieth century and the depiction of war in popular culture. The first of these pulps — WAR STORIES — debuted with its November 1926 number and demonstrated that tales of men in battle could sell magazines, including ones about the war in the air.

Of course, it wasn’t only the stories that sold such magazines. Although the writers and editors “made” the magazines, it was the cover and interior artists who often piqued the interest of potential readers. Artists such as Rudolph Belarski, Frederick Blakeslee, H. T. Fisk, Eugene Franzden, F. R. Glass, John Fleming Gould, George and Jerome Rozen, Frank Tinsley, and others coaxed many a coin out of a Depression era pocket. Join PulpFest on Saturday, July 28, at 8:25 PM for “Life and Death on the Front Lines: The Art of the War Pulps.”

Pulp art historian David Saunders will explore the sensational cover art of the war pulps, often painted by artist veterans of the Great War, who served as Army Doughboys, Naval Gunners, Ace Aviators, or Marine Corps Sergeants. The “blood and guts” cover art of the war genre makes it a perfect example of how Pulp Art is different from the mundane art of Slick Magazine illustration.

PulpFest 2018 will also be celebrating the 100th birthday of Philip José Farmer with FarmerCon 100. We’ll be welcoming  Joe Lansdale — the author of over forty novels, numerous short stories, and more — as our Guest of Honor and hosting a rare gallery showing of original art by acclaimed writer-illustrator Mark Wheatley. Additionally, there will be author readings, a great programming line-up, two auctions featuring unique collectibles, and a dealers’ room filled with pulps, digests, and men’s adventure magazines, collectible paintings and illustrations, rare first editions, vintage paperbacks and comic books, unique films and more. All this, plus you can get ten dollars off the daily admission to Confluence. It’s taking place the same weekend as summer’s AMAZING pulp con! All you have to do is show your PulpFest badge at the door to Pittsburgh’s long-running science fiction, fantasy and horror conference.

PulpFest 2018 begins on Thursday, July 26, and runs through Sunday, July 29 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. You can join both PulpFest and FarmerCon by clicking the Register for 2018 button on the PulpFest home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree while you’re visiting the PulpFest site. They’re going fast!

(The son of pulp artist Norman Saunders, David Saunders was awarded a special “retro” Lamont Award to recognize his substantial service to the pulp community over the years. 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 including Rudolph Belarski, who painted the cover for the April 1929 issue of Ramer Reviews’ AIRPLANE STORIES. Additionally, he has written biographical profiles of artists for ILLUSTRATION MAGAZINE and several coffee-table art books on pulp artists.)