Monday, July 19, 2010

Alex Schomburg

Alex Schomburg was born in Puerto Rico on May 10, 1905 and moved to New York City in 1917.  He and his three older brothers opened a freelance art studio, which they sold in 1928.  Alex started illustrating covers for pulp magazines in the 1930s, and by the end of the decade was working in the comic book field, where, during the next ten years, he created over 500 covers for titles such as Captain America, The Human Torch, and Sub-Mariner at Timely (later Marvel Comics), and covers for comics featuring any mix of those characters, including All Select, Daring, Marvel Mystery, All Winners, Young Allies, USA, and Kid Komics; he also drew covers for Miss Fury, The Green Hornet, The Black Terror, Real Life, and numerous science fiction and jungle girl titles, such as Wonder, Thrilling, and Exciting, which, at least for a time, starred Tara, Pantha, and Judy of the Jungle, respectively.

Stan Lee called Schomburg the Norman Rockwell of comic books and admired his "cartoony" style: "One could never be sure if Alex was an illustrator who approached his work like a cartoonist, or a cartoonist who chose to render his artwork like an illustrator."  In the 1950s he left the comic book field and started supplying covers and interior illustrations for science fiction magazines.  After a 30-year hiatus, he returned to Marvel Comics in 1977 to draw the cover of The Invaders Annual #1, featuring the heroes he'd illustrated so often during the Golden Age.

His action-packed superhero covers of the 1940s were cluttered with figures and background detail, while his lovely, leggy lasses of the jungle and outer space were often beautifully rendered with an airbrush.  For the "good girl" covers (Thrilling, Exciting, Wonder, and Startling, the last a science fiction mag which starred Lance Lewis, though the covers tended to prominently feature his sexy girlfriend, Marna, with Lance relegated to a background prop), Schomburg usually signed his name "Xela".  He kept busy until his death at age 92 on April 7, 1998.

Judy of the Jungle appeared in Exciting Comics #55-69 (May 1947-September 1949), though she was only featured on the covers of #57-66 (September 1947-March 1949); Princess Pantha appeared in Thrilling Comics #56-74 (October 1946-October 1949), and was featured on the covers of #58-71 (February 1947-April 1949).

Here are a selection of those covers:

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