Posts Tagged ‘Frank Kelly Freas’

Lost Art #1 – The Interior Art of the Pulps

Forgotten and Overlooked

The Father of Science Fiction Illustration--Frank R. Paul--Amazing Stories April 1933 illustrating The Man Who Awoke by Laurence Manning

There’s a number of sites that feature the cover of the old Pulp magazine (and they’re awesome). But what is often overlooked and forgotten and nearly lost is the art in the interiors. I’ve got a great fondness for the old fiction magazines, whether they be the pulps or the digests. I’ve decided, as a regular feature on Brain Plucker, to feature some of the art I’ve been running across.

Types of Lost Art

Slowly going through and scanning the art from the Pulps and Digests to find these treasures is one my ideas of fun. Because now I can share them with you.

This is a planned weekly feature for Mondays. We’ll have different postings for individual artists, special themes, and featuring individual magazines’ content.

And I’ll always try to credit the artist. Sometimes the artist is uncredited, but perhaps other fans can clue me in those cases.

There will be an emphasis on Science Fiction but there will be other genre featured too.

The Kind of Art That Will Be Featured

The art will come from various magazines from around 1930 to 1963. The art will be in the Public Domain. Some magazines renewed their copyrights. Those magazines won’t be featured here. But believe me, there is no lack of magazines with great illustrations that are Public Domain. The pulps generally lasted till about the mid-1950s. The popular magazine format switched to digests. From these pulps and digests is where I will mine most of the art.

Some of the interior art is poor. I’ll be avoiding that kind. There’s so much that is very good to excellent, why bother with the crap.

These are Thumbnails, People. Click on Them

Really, the thumbnails don’t do these works justice. Please click on them and admire their craft. The details and craftsmanship blows me away. And there’s the plain artistry!


The Time Tombs by Virgil Finlay from the March, 1963 If

Processing Back to Black & White

When I scan these images, often the paper is course and tanned (kind of what pulps are all about). I process these back into Black and White very carefully. There are no shades of gray or tan when completed. There’s a fine line (pun intended) in keeping the details and totally messing them up. Sometimes the quality of the paper and printing limits my ability to pull out the most out of an image. But I’m usually pleasantly surprised at how nice they turn out.


Coloring the Past

So what’s the big picture here? There’s bigger plans than just sharing these wonderful images. We are working on a project to colorize many of these images. This will be a community effort and I’ll be adding details once the project is up and running.

Also we plan to publish print books of some the black and white and well as colored art.

Lost and Found!

The Avengers illustrated by Emsh from Science Fiction Stories 9-58

So let’s get away from this text and view some art. And look for more every Monday!

The Torch illustrated by Lawrence from Fantastic Novel Mysteries--Fantastic Indeed!

Cinderella, Inc. illustrated by H. W. McCauley from Imagination, December 1952

Homecoming illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas from Science Fiction Stories, 11-56

Dolgov illustrating Ride the El to Doom from Weird Tales, 11-1944 (a two page spread)

Art–Where Phallic Meets Yonic

Here at Brain Plucker we are way too cerebral to talk about sex, right? As some of the regular readers of this blog knows, I design most of the art work for Wonder Publishing Group by re-purposing older artwork in the public domain. WPG is publishing a story as an eBook called Lorelei of the Red Mist by Ray Bradbury and Leigh Brackett. There’s a wonderful painting by Frank Kelly Freas that graced a magazine called Tops is Science Fiction.

Tops In Science Fiction, Fall 1953

Tops In Science Fiction, Fall 1953

This was actually the second printing of the story. I would of repurposed this art if it wasn’t already reused for a excellent Leigh Brackett collection by Haffner Press called Lorelei of the Red Mist: Planetary Romances. I didn’t want to create any confusion between that title and my own published version. So decided I needed to look elsewhere. Lorelei of the Red Mist first appeared in the Summer, 1946 issue of Planet Stories. The cover to that issue left me uninspired. I knew I could find something better than that. I then found an eBay auction that had a photo from the interior art from the already mentioned Tops in Science Fiction magazine. The interior was also by Frank Kelly Freas. Let me stop here to say that I think that Frank Kelly Freas was an exceptional artist in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. He most famously known for his paintings, but I love his interior illustrations for the old SF mags. So back to the picture from the eBay auction. I bid and lost on that issue. I bid and lost another auction for that issue. I decided to colorize the image from the auction. Now this is the first thing interior artwork that I colorized. But I still consider myself a dilettante as a colorist. I can’t look at a black and white drawing and really visualize its completion. In a sense this really exciting when the work starts taking shape. The first thing I did was to make the image more symmetrical.

Interior Art used from the eBay Auction picture

Interior Art from Tops in SF. Image was found from an eBay Auction picture.

I copied the layer and flipped it, did some cutting and cloning and merging to create theĀ  final B&W image. I then started colorizing it. The female represents Rann, an ivory colored Venusian with aquamarine hair. As I cleaned up the image I noticed how phallic the post she was bound to looked. Yes that ring she bound to makes most body piercings seem mild (ouch!). I had the art just about nailed down when I showed it to a friend. I pointed out the phallicness of the art. And he noticed that the base was very vagina-like. In fact the phallic was going right through it. What have a created? By making the base symmetrical, I created one f**king awesome cover. Well before writing this post I had to figure out what the opposite of phallic is called. I have to admit to wondering this before. The best word I’ve found was “yonic”. Which means anything that can be described as vagina-like. Who knew?

Black and White and Symmetrical

Black and White and Symmetrical


Colorized- (ouch! that ring had got to hurt)

The Final Cover

The Final Cover (coming March 2010)

Look for the eBook in March!

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