The Art of Earl Norem: Men’s Pulps, 1965 – 1975

Norem Foxhole

Stag, 1965

Norem Male Magazine 1966

Male, 1966

Norem Nymph

Men, 1966

Norem Surf

Male, 1967

Norem California

Men, 1967

Norem Cycle-2

Man’s World, 1969

Norem Carnival

For Men Only, 1970

Norem Green Berets

Male, 1974

Norem Male 11-1974-2

Male, 1974

Norem Male July 1975-2

Male, 1975

If you haven’t heard, Earl Norem passed away on June 19th at the age of 91. I’ve talked about Norem often, as he is one of the greatest and most influential commercial illustrators of the late 20th century, and a definer of many of the franchises that are now geek canon. Before he started working in comics and related media, however, he had a long and very successful career painting heroes who were only slightly less superhuman. Since his men’s pulp phase is most likely to be ignored—either because it’s distinctly (and necessarily) politically incorrect, or because it doesn’t feature He-Man—I wanted to post a very small sample of his elite output for the genre.

Norem, who served in the distinguished 10th Mountain Division in World War II and was wounded when the Allies advanced into the Po Valley, was perfectly aware of the absurdity of mounting a .30 Caliber Machine Gun on a surfboard, but his job was to sell magazines, and that’s exactly what he did. Professional illustration was a hard, competitive business, and there was no room for sentimentality or grandstanding. Norem took the confines of the particular layout he had to work with and made us look, long and wide-eyed, whether it was a zombie exploding out of a grave or a circus bear smacking around Nazis.

Norem’s range was incredible, and his success and longevity within so many different markets—from Reader’s Digest and Field and Stream to Great Illustrated Classics to The Six Million Dollar Man and Dungeons & Dragons—is a testament to his superior talent. He left behind an enormous body of work that, I hope, will one day get the serious recognition it deserves.

(Some images via American Art Archives and Flickr)

8 Responses to “The Art of Earl Norem: Men’s Pulps, 1965 – 1975”

  1. 1 1537 June 22, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Doesn’t get more manly than this!

  2. 2 welshpiper June 22, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    …absurdity of mounting a Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun on a surfboard…

    But that’s clearly a .30 cal M1919 in the picture. Now who’s absurd?

  1. 1 Ken Kelly and the Golden Age of Toy Art Trackback on August 26, 2015 at 3:18 pm
  2. 2 The Art of Earl Norem: Thrills & Chills (Scholastic, 1994 – 1996) | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on October 20, 2015 at 2:08 pm

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