Friday, July 26, 2013

HA Book Review: Weird Tales' Margaret Brundage

by Don Mangus, Heritage Auctions
The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage
In 1932, Chicago art student Margaret Hedda Johnson hooked up with the politically radical one-time hobo Myron "Slim" Brundage in the bohemian Dil Pickle Club of Chicago, and romantic sparks flew. It was the fiery ignition of the trailblazing career and firebrand activism of an artistic and social iconoclast.

This superb monograph, The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage: Queen of Pulp Pin-Up Art by Stephen D. Korshak, J. David Spurlock, et al, is packaged as two-books-in-one. The first section of the book is about Brundage's art and the Weird Talessaga. The second section details her colorful personal life and is chock-full of seldom-seen facts, documents, and photos.

Brundage forever changed the look of Fantasy and Horror genres with her sensually taboo, haunting, and show-stopping pastels for the celebrated pulp magazine Weird Tales. An instant mega-hit with readers, for the early years fans were unaware that "M. Brundage" was actually a woman. After the truth was revealed, Brundage was anointed the first female superstar artist of the Pulp Era.

Decades before the contemporary goth-fetish subculture became all the rage, Brundage's titillating tableaux showcased erotically charged, semi-nude and leather-clad women brandishing whips and running hog-wild. Her outré images became many a fan's secret source of seduction and thus a later target of New York Mayor Fiorella La Guardia's newsstand "decency campaign."

Without a doubt, Weird Tales' success was due as much to Brundage's eye-popping pin-up-quality covers as to the Fantasy yarns within — spine-tingling classics by such literary giants as H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, and Conan's legendary creator — Robert E. Howard. WT writers, such as Seabury Quinn often included scenes in their stories that they hoped would appear as fantastic Brundage covers.

As part of her legacy, MB can lay claim to creating the first iconic cover spotlighting Conan.

This "must-have" book features an all-star line-up of essays written by famed Fantasy artist Rowena (A. Morrill), Weird Tales historian Robert Weinberg, "First-Fandom" member and Shasta publisher Melvin Korshak, and Men's Adventure Magazines In Postwar America's George Hagenauer.

This timeless treasure trove presents not only all of Margaret Brundage's Weird Tales and Conan covers — but also her other pulp magazine covers — including Oriental Stories,The Magic Carpet, and Golden Fleece.

Each MB masterwork is showcased to full effect as a lavishly reproduced 9" x 12" full-color page. It's also worth noting that nine of the Weird Tales and one of the Oriental Stories pastels were reproduced directly from surviving original art.

This superb book is sure to be a prized addition to any Fantasy art fan's library.


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