Allen Anderson by David Saunders (book review).

I pulled a copy of ‘Allen Anderson’ by David Saunders off The Book Palace in their current sale for half price and its already sold out which must be something to gauge interest in this book if you’re looking for it else where. I did ask its publisher, Dan Zimmer, about reprinting and he wavered, saying he had more book projects to do but never to say never.

Anderson (1908-1995), worked briefly for Fawcett, before moving to New York and joining his fellow artists, like Norman Saunders, there painting book covers for the pulps. This book shows this work in a variety of covers. Although there aren’t many in our genre as you would like, there are some and its worthwhile giving this book a look for period design.

Don’t doubt Anderson’s influence on other artists, including Frank Kelly Freas and Wallace Wood, who were working inside the covers he painted. One fascinating photo shows him making clay models of cartoon characters for a particular project. How many artists do that? A few but not many.

You can read the 27 page history for yourself. The rest of the book is devoted to his oil painted covers. They are all divided into genres so hardly surprising the two Black Hood covers are near the beginning. Most look pretty generic in terms of being generalisation than specific to particular stories. There are some but I suspect they are outnumbered by generic. It was interesting seeing AE Van Vogt’s name on the cover of ‘Detective Book Magazine’ on page 34 and Henry Kuttner’s name on the cover of ‘Spicy-Adventure Stories’ on page 42, obviously indicating both SF authors working in other genres.

OK, its when you get to ‘Planet Stories’ you get 24 magazine covers, ‘Two Complete Science-Adventure Books’ and 6 covers and ‘Amazing Adventures’ 3 covers. Interestingly, with ‘Lars Of Mars’, he does address the problem of a backpack jet not burning your backside so he was quite prolific in our genre. More amusingly, the magazines ‘Fairy Tales’ and ‘Nursery Rhymes’ shows how he can do comedy with as much aplomb as a scattering of horror.

Those were the days when the pulp magazines ruled and it was the colourful covers that ensured readers came back time and again. Allen Anderson was one such artist so seeing his work in a collection is worth a look.

GF Willmetts

March 2023

(pub: The Illustrated Press, 2019. 224 page illustrated very large hardback. Price: in the UK, you can currently get it while sales last for £20.00 (UK). Well, that didn’t last long before it sold out. You can get copies elsewhere. ISBN: 978-0-9995138-5-9)

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