Ultra Swank - Retro Adventures

In Praise of Pulp – The Art of Mort Kunstler

Written by James Vaughan • May 26th, 2012
In Praise of Pulp – The Art of Mort Kunstler

The magazine rack at the local drugstore. Memories from my childhood in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Illustrated covers on the lower shelves. Screaming titles in bold, bawdy, blazing headlines. MALE… MAN’S LIFE… SAGA!!!

Were these a kind of grown-up comic book? But this was much better! Silly, costumed caricatures talking in word balloons was little kid stuff. This was about real life. These covers were Art. Actual paintings of epic poportion and theme. Dizzying amounts of detail sucking me into a world of  terrible, bullet whizzing, danger and heroism.

Was this the truth about the world out there? Somewhere, during my lunch of grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup, Nazis were torturing scantilly clad girls in dungeons? While I played kickball at recess, burly secret agents fought their way across raging rivers filled with hordes of carnivorous turtles?

Artist and illustrator Mort Kunstler did hundreds of covers and inside illustrations for these early ‘Men’s Mags’. Today, Kunstler is famous for his Civil War paintings. But for me his work lives forever in the fevered imagination of that little boy; forever hunched over the bottom shelves of the magazine rack at the back of the local drugstore.

Take your flashlight and laptop under the covers to see much more of Mort Kunstler and other pulp artists at my Flickr gallery: ‘Best Of Pulp’

Above: confessions-of-flame-queen-torture master

Above: hovercraft-heist-dock casino!

Above: 1970 – lost count again

Above: 1968 – henchmen don’t disco

Above: 1960 – party crashers

Above: 1956 – what would Mike Nelson do

James Vaughan

James Vaughan was born in 1955, resides in Ohio and has taught at Kent State University. James spends his days photographing conceptual and editorial style studio photography.

Find out more about James Vaughan

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