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. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Nafzinger connection

A Few weeks back I spoke of the Ray Nafzinger-Agnes Best Nafzinger connection, or what I thought maybe one.  I have since read "The Spell of the Turquoise" By Agnes Nafzinger From March 1954 issue of Love Book Magazine a Popular Publication its pictured in my earlier post on Love pulps, great cover of a blonde with compact.  The Story is one of a unnamed state in the south-west with a dude ranch and a very old turquoise mine found by the grandfather of the present day owner.  OK, the real story is between two woman, an old flame and his "best friend" and two other men who try to get the mine.  Very nice descriptions of the mine and a quality story too. 

Not much info was found by me on the Ray/Agnes deal but did find this<> on a book Agnes helped with, published in 1976, it sounds so much like the story in Love Book, the reviews seem to verify this too.  Seems that Agnes knew her stuff about that sort of activity.  Anyway figure she could be Rays daughter/wife being the age difference is a lot, he was most likely born in 1902 or so, he passed in 1946 and his first stories appeared in 1922 in Peoples Pulp with "Jes a Little Josh".  Matter of fact his first 3 publications were for Peoples and the next bunch for Ace High, seemed they were all westerns.  So that makes him maybe 20 or so writing for the pulps and then didn't live very long either.  But just a guess, there is no birthday given for him. An other bit of info comes from The Pulp Vault #14, an article written by J. Edward Leithead another excellent pulp western writer, gives his starting date at Ace High as 1924.  He said he was the youngest  guy there followed by Nafziner.  Leithead started out at the same time, he doesn't give his age but the photo of him looks like he's in his twenties. Given the date of the Colorado buried treasure book 1976, I guess it could he his daughter or wife, but lean toward it being his wife with the Best Nafzinger name, like my wife's name her maiden name and mine. She Started writing in 1943 for All Story Love and then for Rangeland Romances and what looks like the last year of Rays life 3 collaborations with him "I love Organ Music" from The Saturday Evening Post 1945, "Papa Played the Cello" from Colliers 1945, and "Lady Nightingale" from The Sat. Ev. Post 1947.  Seems a musical connection too.  So interesting stuff, but, nothing concrete, both were very good writers and I plan on reading some Ray Nafziner stuff in the near future, maybe some Holiday type of western would be good.