Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Space Man, A Stand Up Comic

Another long-lost, early John Schoenherr illustration has come to light, thanks to the work log that I found a few weeks ago: it's the cover for issue #3 of the comic book Space Man, published by Dell in 1962.

It's job #225 in the log, which shows that Dell commissioned him on February 7, 1962, and paid him $200 on April 17. The original painting - wherever it is! - is most likely gouache on illustration board.

This one's closer to his usual fare than the Monster Parade covers, but it's still an oddball - at least compared to much of his other science fiction pictures. Its "retro" quality would make it at home on a pulp magazine or B-movie poster of the 1940s or 1950s. He sure could could lay it on thick, when need be.

Monday, April 8, 2013

John Schoenherr's Monster Parade

This an odd way to commemorate the third anniversary of my father's death, but maybe it'll leaven the gloom.

Last week, going through some paper bags and boxes of Dad's financial records, I found an interesting document: it's basically a log of his paid illustration jobs, numbered consecutively, starting with #1 in October 1956 (when he was a 21-year-old recent Pratt Institute graduate, living in his parents' house at 52-19 39th Avenue in Long Island City, Queens) and continuing all the way to job #258b in December 1962 (when he was 27, married, but still living under his parents' roof - or, rather, his father and step-mother's roof). I realized that I already had found part two of this "work log" that went up to job #324 in October 1964 (by which time he was married, had a 1-year-old daughter, and was living in rural New Jersey) as well as a few less-careful ledger pages itemizing his work through mid-1965.

Dad often didn't keep or get copies of the work he did, so the log - which notes the job number, the commission date, the publisher, publication, title or subject of illustration, type and quantity of picture(s), and fee (and sometimes the date he was paid and the date of publication) -  is bibliographically invaluable. By 1961 he was illustrating almost exclusively for Astounding Science Fiction (a.k.a. Analog) and doing paperback book covers for Ace and Pyramid. But before that he was drawing and painting for myriad now-forgotten publications, mostly science fiction-oriented, digest-sized pulp magazines and larger-format "men's magazines" full of lurid, sexy, and dangerous "true" stories with tag-lines like "I Gave My Legs to the Maggots of Africa"...

One of the houses he worked for was Royal Publications, starting with job #10 - two illustrations for the magazine Infinity - in December 1956. Over the next 15 months he did other things for Infinity as well as Royal's Science Fiction Adventures, Hot Rods, and True War. And then in May 1958 he was hired to do a cover for a magazine noted in the log as "MONSTER P." This - job #93 - was followed on July 31, 1958, by job #105, another cover.

It turns out that "MONSTER P." was short for Monster Parade, which lasted all of four issues. That makes identifying Dad's work a little easier, and I'm pretty confident that the two covers shown here are his work. The spider - featured on issue #2 for December 1958 - most likely came first, and then came the hula-hooping horror icons on issue #4 for March 1959.

A smoking gun by way of a credit or signature would help my case, but the texture of the spider and the handling of the bloody lady-in-distress feel right, and although Dad isn't particularly well-known for humorous subjects, he did in fact, do a lot of them, especially at that point in his career. So I'm planting a flag on these two illustrations on his behalf. Of course, if anyone can provide information to the contrary, please let me know.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

If You Can't Face It - Faint

A few years into my dad's illustration career, he began to do spots for a "men's magazine" called MEN. Here's one - probably painted early in 1960 - from a regular feature called "Men and Medicine" by Ken Armstrong.

City Under the Sea

Here's a paperback cover my dad was commissioned to do in December 1964 for Paul W. Fairman's City Under the Sea (Pyramid Publications, Inc., R-1162, April 1965). The novel wasn't connected to the City Under the Sea movie of 1965, but was a TV tie-in to the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea series on ABC, which, in turn, was based on the 1961 Irwin Allen movie of the same name. Instead of coming up with his own submarine, Dad had to follow the movie/TV design of the Seaview.