Amid the whirl and rush of the counter-culture's bohemian excess in the 1930s came the exotic imaginings of famed fantasy artist Margaret Brundage -- "The Queen of The Pulps." An acclaimed new art book/biography published by Vanguard reminds us of her uncanny talent and provides rare revelations into her personal life.
Brundage's sumptuous covers for Oriental Stories and Weird Tales incited shock and titillation in her era, often depicting Nubian demons, topless nymphs and leering brutes in leather. In summoning this luscious imagery, she mined the wildest shards of her imagination to ignite a burning beacon for fetishism -- and surprisingly, for feminism -- in the pulpy pages of this fabled fantasy and horror magazine.
The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage, by Stephen Korshak and J. David Spurlock, vividly gathers all 74 Brundage pulp covers into one majestic volume. Her startling artwork is reproduced in eye-popping color and clarity via a deluxe, 9" x 12", 184-page edition, available in both hard and softcover, able to grace the most hallowed of geek bookshelves and cool coffee tables.
From 1933 to 1938, Weird Tales featured the mesmerizing work of the dame named Queen of Pulp Pin-Up Art. Relaxed decency standards allowed for the erotic depiction of semi-nude virgins ripe for sacrifice, pseudo-sapphic themes and religious symbolism that eluded the censors, but other mores stayed in place, inspiring Brundage to use a simple "M. Brundage" as her signature to mask gender identification. Before being enlisted as their cover artist, Brundage had made a living as a fashion illustrator in Chicago.
Her marriage to hard-drinking leftist and Dil Pickle Club radical Slim Brundage and her membership in the socialist labor movements of Chicago branded her a rebel whose turbulent romance could adapt easily into a stormy, Hollywood biopic.
"Brundage is one of the most famous pulp artists ever," said author Spurlock. "She's the first female pulp artist and created a hybrid between horror and pin-up art. Brundage blazed trails for photographers like Bunny Yeager and modern female masters of fantasy art like Julie Bell, Rowena and Olivia, who said, 'Men didn't think women capable of such sexuality ... she paved the way for artists like myself to thrive.'"
Weird Tales was the fertile field for a bold stable of writers like Robert E. Howard, Theodore Sturgeon and H.P. Lovecraft. For Brundage's legions of vampire slaves and pink-skinned virgins, the pulp magazine became the perfect venue for her pastel creations.
Sadly, Brundage died in poverty on April 9, 1976, and never saw her Weird Tales artwork returned. Vanguard's intimate edition is fortified with vintage photos and resurrects her brilliance as a revolutionary illustrator for future generations of spirited artists.
To order The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage, visit vanguardpublishing.com or your favorite friendly bookseller.