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Saunders, Norman

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1907-1989) US artist who was active in Comics and especially the Pulp magazines, later working on paperbacks and trading cards. Some work was signed simply Blaine, his middle name. Saunders began painting pulp magazine covers in 1935, his first straight sf cover being for the August 1938 Marvel Science Stories. Other sf magazines to which he contributed covers or interiors include Amazing, Dynamic Science Stories, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Fantastic Novels and Planet Stories. Saunders produced almost 900 covers for various pulp titles (relatively few of them sf) until the effective end of the pulp era in 1960.

In 1962, Saunders painted the 55-card Mars Attacks set of bubble-gum trading cards for the Topps Company, a series depicting a Martian Invasion via flying saucers (see UFOs). This gained him considerable notoriety for its images of scantily-clad women and, for that time, unusually explicit gore and violence. The murderously sadistic invaders are eventually repelled and the sequence ends with the literal explosion of the planet Mars by Earth's nuclear counter-attack. Controversy led to several of these cards being repainted before the series was pulled from production altogether. The cards were reissued in the 1990s in their original form and loosely adapted as Tim Burton's film Mars Attacks! (1996), whose storyline features much more Humour than the card set. Unlike most pulp artists, Saunders lived long enough to see his artwork appreciated by new generations of fans; it has been reprinted in numerous selections of pulp magazine art. [GSt/DRL]

see also: Classics Illustrated.

Norman Blaine Saunders

born Minneapolis, Minnesota: 1 January 1907

died St Louis, Missouri: 7 March 1989

about the artist

  • David Saunders (1954-    ). Norman Saunders (Saint Louis, Missouri: The Illustrated Press Inc, 2008) [graph: hb/Norman Saunders]


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