The Art of Norman Saunders (book)


19 Responses to “The Art of Norman Saunders (book)”

  1. Takuan says:

    one artist did all that? One? Gad I was oblivious.

  2. Larem says:

    Well… poo. It’s out of stock.
    I had some of those stickers.
    …good times.

  3. buddy66 says:

    A friend of mine deals in old paperbacks on a mail-order basis (Black Ace Books), and she’s always coming across Norman Saunders covers. Man, was he prolific! I had many a … reverie as a teener studying his art.

  4. the Other michael says:

    The Wacky Packages book was a good read. Check out the front-n-back cover-art beneath the dust-jacket!

  5. Shrdlu says:

    Montauk @ #6:

    These were pulp book covers. What would you expect? I don’t find them any more lubricious or demeaning than the covers of current romance novels. What’s more I think the stuff from the ’30s – ’50s was much better quality and I think it should be enjoyed without imposing today’s moral values–I mean if you object to this, you are going to have to object to much of classical art as well. (Think of the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa or the many works themed on the Rape of the Sabine Women.)

    In fact, there is a renewed appreciation for pin-up art today. Although I’m not too keen on Petty and Vargas, Gil Elvgren is really great, and I make no apologies for liking him. And sure his idealized female subjects for commercial work are often portrayed in degrading situations, I enjoy his work in a purely aesthetic way, much differently than say the late Andrew Wyeth’s Helga paintings, which I also very much like. Does this make me unenlightened? I hope not.

  6. Jack says:

    I grew up with Wacky Packages and loved them. But only really discovered Mars Attacks! cards recently. That horrendous movie didn’t help me discover them sooner.

    But holy crap! These are amazing cards for kids. A complete collection of scans with the narrative explanation of what’s happening is here.

    I really miss the old days when wry older men would create cool art/entertainment for kids that isn’t patronizing.

  7. feralman says:

    As far as Norman Saunders’ work in men’s adventure magazines, with an excellent David Saunders article and Norman Saunders’ own piece on how he drew the pulp illos, see “It’s a Man’s World: Men’s Adventure Magazines, the Postwar Pulps”:

  8. slummy says:

    wacky packs we’re the most fascinating things id ever known at 7yo. i didnt understand what sticking it to the corporate complex was but i knew that it was good, even in such an innocent fashion.

  9. montauk says:

    Saunders really doesn’t do it for me. I don’t get the appeal. I really don’t. I suppose this comes from not being very keen on how he draws women – or rather, the one woman who seems to recur in all his drawings of women, but with different hairstyles. I wonder if he had a muse. A muse who was always half-naked with her hands bound behind her back, arched like an alley-cat, pointing her toes, and baring her gravity-defying breasts.

  10. Takuan says:

    the tentacly, bulgy eyed crawling brain is from a War of the Worlds illo, isn’t it?

  11. montauk says:

    Shrdlu @ #11:

    I don’t have high standards for the covers of pulp novels or men’s magazines. I just don’t understand the artistic appeal of them. If an artist is going to focus on the human form, I personally like to see it depicted in a thoughtful or somehow unconventional way, and I just don’t see that in George Saunders and most pop/comic art. It looks, to me, like the result of those “how to draw comic book art” tutorials on women. And I do find the vast majority of classical art to be pretty dull – for reasons that outweigh the female aspect – though I know plenty of others have a valid interest in that stuff. That doesn’t mean I “object” to it – I just don’t personally like it or see any tremendous merit in it. I’m not really sure where I made a moral objection or whatever.

    I know there’s a renewed appreciation for pin-up art today, I think there’s a renewed appreciation for retrosexual imagery in general – like the trendiness of burlesque, Suicide Girls, Dita Von Teese, Betty Boop, Bettie Page…but that doesn’t mean I’m going to appreciate them. To me, it’s all the same old same old.

    I’m not going to call anyone unenlightened for liking one artist or another, just as I’m sure you don’t think I have poor aesthetic taste just because I don’t care for pin-up stuff. But to me, these representations of women are the same ones I see everywhere, including modern stuff today. And I’m tired of the same old representation – whether it’s an aesthetically lovely representation or not.

    I feel like every time I bring up something vaguely feminist in a discussion about art, people feel like I’m casting moral judgments on them, demanding they recant or apologize for their interests, advocating artistic censorship, or making a case for objective standards of artistry. I’m not. I’m just saying that for me, the uninspiring representation outweighs any aesthetic attraction. For some people, the representation would only detract a little, for others, not at all, and some people just love their sexed-up comic women. I’m not going to revoke anyone’s “Good Person” card on those grounds.

    However, it does make it vastly less appealing to me.

  12. David Saunders says:

    Thanks to Boing-Boing power, my father’s book zoomed up to #24 on the Amazon recent best sellers list in the art category! Unfortunately, thanks to the power of the automated stock system at Amazon, the Norman Saunders book is still listed as “out of stock.” They told me it can take fourteen days before their system registers the availability of their own stock. So in the meantime, if you want to get a copy fast and you don’t mind helping a small publisher, you can buy the Norman Saunders book directly from where your purchase will be instantly mailed to you for the exact same price.

    It weighs over five pounds! over 800 images of artworks, including behind the scenes sketches and photo references for many iconic images of pop culture. It took two lifetimes to create this book, my father’s and mine! — David Saunders

  13. mikechomko says:

    For those of you who may be interested in pulp magazines and the art featured on their covers, I’d recommend you look into PulpFest 2009, a convention for pulp magazine enthusiasts that will be held in Columbus, Ohio in July/August 2009. The website is at

  14. Bemopolis says:

    Getting enough packs to finish the puzzle of that tentacly bug-eyed crab cost me a crapload of allowance and, thanks to the stale gum, a few deciduous teeth. Damn you, Saunders!

  15. David Saunders says:

    Thank you BoingBoing for mentioning the book I have written on father, Norman Saunders. It is published by Dan Zimmer at The Illustrated Press. He also makes ILLUSTRATION Magazine, which is devoted to promoting a greater awareness of classic illustration artists. Every issue contains two or three biographical articles on an illustrator and includes hundreds of images! I write for the magazine also.

    If you want the Norman Saunders book, why not buy it directly from the poor starving publisher at Dan will ship your book to you this very instant! It is available now and on stock! Thanks again. — David Saunders

  16. wayne sakayama says:

    I love the high-quality pulp work (like the cover). However, I think Saunders really went downhill after the pulp era and relied too much on photo reference. His later work really loses its painterly charm, and to me the men’s magazine and wacky packages stuff is just plain bad.

  17. mrmule says:

    Those hoping to find the book on will be ‘sorely’ disappointed when searching for ‘Norman Saunders’. Best stick to the ISBN number for that one. ISBN10 0982004109

  18. Stefan Jones says:

    That’s pretty damn cool! When I was a kid I had plenty of Wacky Packs, and even a few Mars Attacks cards.

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