PulpFest Historical — Rudolph Belarski

May 27, 2020 by

Rudolph Belarski was born 120 years ago today on May 27, 1900. The son of unskilled immigrants from Europe, he grew up in the mining town of Dupont, Pennsylvania. Forced to quit school after sixth grade, he labored for ten years at the Pittston Mines. Young Rudolph’s nights were spent following his dream to become a professional illustrator as he completed mail-order art courses from the International Correspondence School, Inc. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Moving to New York City in 1922, Belarski studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He began teaching there in 1928, the same year he entered the pulp industry through Dell Publications, providing interiors and covers for WAR ACES, WARBIRDS, WAR NOVELS, and WAR STORIES. He would leave the Pratt Institute behind in 1933 to work for Fiction House, Thrilling Publications, and Munsey. Rudolph Belarski painted covers for ACES, ALL-AMERICAN FICTION, ARGOSY, CAPTAIN FUTURE, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, MYSTERY BOOK, POPULAR DETECTIVE, RED STAR ADVENTURES, THRILLING DETECTIVE, WINGS, and other rough-paper titles.

Too old to serve in the Second World War, Belarski drew portrait sketches for hospitalized servicemen on both sides of the Atlantic. After the war, he 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. He retired in 1972. Rudolph Belarski passed away at age 83 on Christmas Eve, 1983.

(We had hoped to find a Ray Bradbury cover painted by Rudolph Belarski to go along with this article. However, by the time Bradbury was writing, Earle Bergey was painting most of the science fiction and fantasy covers for the Standard Magazines pulp line. So instead, we decided to go with a Belarski painting of Tarzan, one of Ray Bradbury’s longtime heroes.

Rudolph Belarski’s painting was created for the cover of the March 19, 1938 ARGOSY WEEKLY, illustrating the Edgar Rice Burroughs serial, “The Red Star of Tarzan.” The story — which was originally published in six weekly installments — would be titled TARZAN AND THE FORBIDDEN CITY when it appeared later the same year in book form.

We’ll have plenty of programming related to the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs. So please stayed tuned to pulpfest.com in the weeks ahead.

William Patrick Maynard was born and raised in Northeast Ohio. An avid reader of vintage thriller fiction and a keen student of film and comic art, he has been writing fiction since childhood. Since 2009, he has been authorized by the Sax Rohmer literary estate to continue the Fu Manchu series. Apart from his novels, he also writes mystery and sci-fi short fiction and screenplays. He has authored nearly 300 pop culture articles and has contributed DVD commentaries to classic films of the last century. In late 2018, Bill joined the PulpFest marketing department as a writer. Since then, he has contributed significantly to our website. Bill is the convention’s assistant director of marketing and director of afternoon programming. To reach him by email, write to wpm@pulpfest.com.)