Thursday, December 13, 2012

Austin Briggs' Blue Book Pulp illo's

Since I was unable to find much on Briggs' pulp work on the web, I decided to add my own.  I find Austins work to be wonderful in this period: 1936 to 1939( a random sample of my Blue Books). I think its his top work.  Better that his Flash Gordon comics strip work, after all its really hard to be as good as Alex Raymond.  I really love pen and ink work like Briggs did in the pulps and  no one talking about his magazine work seemed to notice his work there.Well after all, he was doing work in the '40's for Saturday Evening Post, Cosmo, Ladies Home Journal and others getting paid a hell of a lot more money and getting much more exposure there than at Blue Book.  Am pretty sure he got lots of people to notice him there at Blue Book, because McCalls got very good distribution, but not like the slicks.  Lets look at these drawings from Sept. 1936 illustrating  "Jail-Bait" By Robert R. Mill an FBI story of police crime.  An excellent read, somewhat on the order of Law and Order the TV program. You know, detecting, arrest and conviction. The drawing is a beautiful example of cross-hatching, very moody and atmospheric.  Great use of black and white spaces and nice corner to corner design.  Not your average pulp illo!  Then again, Blue Book was not your normal pulp, and had a literary lean to it, as well as giving artist on the way up and down a very good pay, as opposed to the other pulps.

Blue Book had a gob of really excellent artists on their staff and is always a pleasure to read and look at.  As a plus they frequently added color to their pages, sometimes to add to the drawings sometime as a completely different bit of art to give it a ghostly appearance.  Its like how they used to show the Shadow in Shadow Comics, as a blue drawing without the black outline.    I can see why Briggs was inducted into the Society of Illustrator's Hall of fame.  Great man. 


  1. You are right Jonathan, Austin Briggs was excellent. BLUE BOOK is a treasure trove of great art. I have a great double page Flanagan from the mid thirties. It illustrated a James Francis Dwyer serial. I also have some other interiors. Much of this black and white art is still available at reasonable prices.

    Yet most collectors have no interest in the original art. I will never be able to understand why book or pulp collectors would not want some original art to go along with their collections.

    1. Walker, now were talking, man, John Richard Flanagan is my other favorite pen and ink man, can talk about him the next time. And, I'm with you on owning original art, it is heaven sent stuff and can be had at a reasonable cost. I have stuff on my walls that can't be beat, in terms of art. Good observation man. JJ.

  2. Glad you liked it, been away from it a long time, should do some more! Anything to do with Briggs and Blue Book is OK.