Yesterday I met up with fellow RPGnet regular Jeb Boyt, who was in town for a law-school reunion. Braving the Seattle-esque weather that has plagued NYC recently, we headed underground into the subway, and out to the Brooklyn Museum of Art, to check out a special exhibition of Pulp cover art from the 30s and 40s.
Very cool stuff–they even had a few of the original Walter Baumhofer Doc Savage cover paintings (“Pirate of the Pacific”, “The Red Skull” and “The Meteor Menace”)–seeing the actual oil paintings really makes you aware of how much the old pulp covers have faded and worn. The museum displayed the originals next to sealed copies of the actual magazines, so you could compare them.
I actually wonder if the pulp covers were ever as vibrant as the original paintings—it’s hard to tell now, since the pulps are so old, but I’m not sure if reproduction techniques of the time were able to match the colors. The painting of “The Meteor Menace”, for example, had a much bluer idol–it appears more purple on the pulp cover. The painting of “The Red Skull” had the light playing on Doc’s face with a distinct greenish tint, which is much more subdued on the pulp cover. I wonder if artists like Baumhofer knew this, and made color adjustments to allow for imperfect reproduction, or if its just a factor of the colors fading on the old paper.
The paintings were brilliant. If the show ever tours to an art museum near you, I highly recommend checking it out.