As I’ve said before, Earl Norem’s work on HG’s Alien license, including the target from the Alien Blaster Giant Target Set and this, the 36″ tall jigsaw puzzle, is some of the finest in pop culture illustration. Artist Stephen Kick recently bought a copy of the puzzle, scanned every single piece into Photoshop, assembled the pieces, cleaned and restored them, and gave us a big, beautiful poster. The before and after images are above.
Go to Steve’s post to see more, including some GIFs of the entire process—it took him eight hours. And maybe drop him a line of thanks. The puzzle is not easy to come by, and, because of the size, it’s almost impossible to see quality images of the whole thing. Now, everyone gets to enjoy Norem’s work up close without spending a small fortune.
While you’re at it, check out Steve’s many other incredible designs, like this custom Boba Fett blaster, for instance.
Thrills & Chills was a kids horror magazine published by Scholastic books from 1994 through 1996. I can’t say much about the quality because I’ve only seen the covers and a handful of interior pages, but the series is historical now, if for no other reason than that Earl Norem was a regular illustrator. If you’re new to Norem, start here.
The pieces above are all originals and have sold on eBay over the last few years.
You know you’re good when you get asked to redo a Jack Kirby cover. All but one of the Fireside books were color reprints of classic (i.e. pre-1970) Marvel titles and storylines. This one was the exception—an all new graphic novel by Lee and Kirby, and a damn good one that I remember reading and still have. The “Origins” books were a particularly hot commodity at my elementary school, and the Surfer was way up there too. Probably my first exposure to Norem’s work.
Check out ‘Tain’t the Meat for more on the Surfer issue and the Fireside Books series.
(Images via It’s Dan’s World, Dial B for Blog, and `Tain’t the Meat)
Published June 23, 2015
Earl Norem , Sci-Fi/Space Art
Little known Norem covers for the first two books in Symon Jade’s (a.k.a Michael Eckstrom) Starship Orpheus series. (The third and last book in the series was illustrated by Jerry Bingham.) You have to admire the pink leather dress and boots on the damsel in distress. Clearly Norem found it amusing, because he signed his name in pink.
Norem didn’t illustrate many adult-oriented sci-fi/fantasy paperbacks. I’m sure he was making better money on booming kid’s properties at Marvel and Mattel. He did paint all 18 covers for Avon’s Wizards, Warriors & You role-playing books, and all six of Ballantine’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero young adult novels.
Published June 22, 2015
Man’s World, 1969
For Men Only, 1970
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)
A new adventure begins, this time with the creative team of David Anthony Kraft (writer) and Pablo Marcos (artist). The cover is by Earl Norem.
Kraft started at Marvel as the editor of FOOM in 1978 and had a memorable run on The Defenders. Throughout the ’80s he worked on promotional materials, coloring/activity books, and the Marvel Books imprint. He went on to found the influential Comics Interview, which ran from 1983 to 1995.
Peruvian Pablo Marcos emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1970s and got his first American comics work with Warren and Skywald publications before moving to Marvel. He is best known for penciling Tales of the Zombie and inking John Buscema’s Conan the Barbarian.
As for the story thus far in The Crown of Rulership, my only question is, why the hell is the map to the all-powerful Crown shoved in willy-nilly with all the other scrolls, and very much out in the open? Better yet, why hasn’t someone of lawful good alignment already secured the Crown, to prevent evildoers from doing the same?
More to come. The AD&D Characters Coloring Book, if you haven’t seen it, is here.
One in a series of the bleakest jigsaw puzzles ever produced on planet Earth. Others in this format included the Space Jockey and the Nostromo in flight, but the real prize is the 250-piece, 36″ tall beauty featuring art by Earl Norem, who also illustrated the unforgettable Alien “target” from the Alien Blaster Giant Target Set (see it here on an episode of Toy Hunters).
The marketing of Alien was one of the strangest, most decadent moments in the history of toy licensing, and one of the greatest kid moments in the history of kid-dom. 20th Century Fox foolishly sold the license across the board expecting the film to come back with a PG rating, and ended up having to sell parents on one of the most violent movies ever made, and arguably the most terrifying.
I found a blurb in Starlog (below) detailing the scope (but not the extent) of the merchandising campaign. The only products I haven’t seen are the Don Post mask and the pajamas (!). One of the Roach t-shirt transfers is here, the Ben Cooper costume is here, and you can see the Kenner-produced “world’s ugliest doll” (a.k.a. the greatest action figure ever made) here.
Published January 28, 2015
Books , Earl Norem , G.I. Joe
Norem painted the covers for all six of Ballantine’s G.I. Joe young adult novels, having previously illustrated covers and/or interiors for a number of G.I. Joe storybooks, two of which can be seen in full at Geektarded.
Even in space, apparently, Cobra agents are required to keep their noses and mouths covered.
(Images via Comic Art Fans and Yo Joe!)
Star-Lord’s second costume. You’ll notice that the original painting, posted at Comic Art Fans, has only Norem’s signature. The final cover has a second signature: Peter Ledger. I don’t see any differences between the two pieces, though Ledger presumably added some additional colors. Ledger also shared credit with Norem on the outstanding cover of The Hulk! #15.
Tales of the Zombie (1973 – 1975) ran for 10 issues and an annual. Boris Vallejo did the first four covers, and Earl Norem did the rest. You can see them all at the Marvel Wikia.
Norem was a much better all-around artist, in my opinion, even though Vallejo is the one who became famous. Norem could paint anything, electrify and dramatize any scene (see the falling flashlight and erupting chunks of earth above), catch the details (rain-soaked leaves sucked through a thrown open door, the textures of leather, denim, clean hair, dirty hair). Boris, on the other hand, was a one-trick pony. What he did he usually did well, but never as well as his master, Frazetta.
(Images via Fantasy Ink)