Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Stanley’s Style: Into the West

Part of a 100th-birthday tribute to artist Robert Stanley.

Gunman’s Spawn, by Ben Thompson (Graphic Giant, 1955).

Although I customarily think of artist Robert Stanley (1918-1996) in relation to the bumper crop of covers he painted for works of crime and mystery fiction, he was also a notably prolific creator of Western-fiction fronts. Randal S. Brandt noted in his introduction to this series that Stanley broke into the burgeoning 20th-century pulp-fiction market with a dramatic illustration for the April 1939 issue of Thrilling Western magazine. He went on during the 1950s to contribute myriad façades to softcover releases churned out by the Dell Publishing Company. Stanley’s artistry can be spotted on paperbacks by such familiar Western storytellers as Luke Short, Ernest Haycox, Norman A. Fox, Frank Gruber, William MacLeod Raine, and Max Brand. In a good number of those paintings, you can identify the artist himself and his redheaded wife, Rhoda Rosenzweig, as the action-figure models. (For instance, Fox’s Shadow on the Range—which Dell brought out in 1951—shows a topless Rhoda seeking relief and privacy in a backcountry watering hole.)

What you will find below is not a comprehensive collection of images Stanley painted for adventure novels set in America’s Old West. But it’s certainly a representative sample. In search of these 40 specimens—as well as the striking front from Gunman’s Spawn that’s displayed atop this post—I turned both to Brandt’s Robert Stanley Cover Gallery on Flickr and to the ever-indispensable Web site Pulp Covers, which offers thousands of high-quality book-cover scans, many of them featuring hard-to-find artist credits.

Click on any of the images here to open an enlargement.


Robert Deis (aka "SubtropicBob") said...

I am learning so much as a result of your Stanley series, about both Bob and his wife Rhoda! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Presumably the elderly lawman on the cover of Gunman’s Spawn died of a heart attack. The young man facing us still hasn't drawn his gun.