Atlantis Online
December 11, 2019, 10:22:31 pm
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: USA showered by a watery comet ~11,000 years ago, ending the Golden Age of man in America
http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20050926/mammoth_02.html
 
  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

An interview with artist James Bama

Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: An interview with artist James Bama  (Read 269 times)
Shadowraith
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 2066



« on: January 22, 2018, 02:14:38 am »

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
 Ė Part 1Ö








James Bama is one of the few artists alive today who is legendary for several different types of artwork.

After moving to Wyoming from his home state of New York in 1968, Bama became one of Americaís most famous and successful painters of Western art.

His Western paintings are featured in museums and fine art galleries throughout the country and sell for tens of thousands of dollars. High-quality, limited edition prints made from those paintings sell for hundreds.

Their style is painterly and hyper-realistic at the same time. And, they almost palpably convey the character of each of the cowboys, cowgirls, Indians and other Western residents portrayed in them.
Itís no wonder that they have earned Bama a legion of fans and put him in the upper echelons of both Western artists and modern ďrealistĒ artists in general.

But Bama continues to have separate cult followings for his earlier work in other areas of art that he made a living from in the 1950s and 1960s: his paperback cover paintings Ė especially those done for Bantamís Doc Savage series; his box cover paintings for the Aurora monster model kits; and, his menís pulp adventure magazine artwork.

All those aspects of Jim Bamaís long career and others are covered in the must-have book about him, JAMES BAMA: AMERICAN REALIST by Brian M. Kane.

If you can afford it, buy the special deluxe of that book.

It includes a DVD with a fascinating and well-produced documentary about Bamaís life and work.

The documentary also features the only on-camera interview I know of with Steve Holland, the great male model who was used by many top illustrators in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, including Bama.

Hollandís face and body appears on literally thousands of paperback covers, menís magazine covers and interior illustrations from those decades.

Bama made him especially famous by using him as the model for Doc Savage, creating an iconic image that is still used today on new Doc Savage books.

Bama also used Holland for the dramatic, trend-setting cover paintings he did for many best-selling mainstream paperbacks, such as THE HARRAD EXPERIMENT, THE NAKED APE and many others.
Image52

Most of web pages and sites that feature some kind of artwork by Jim Bama tend to focus on his Aurora art or his paperback covers...

Öor his Western paintings.

Bamaís menís adventure work is less well known, even though itís also great and helped him develop the skills he later used for his ďfine art.Ē

Of course, menís pulp adventure mags are my main focus as a collector, writer and editor. So when I contacted Jim at his home in Wyoming and he graciously agreed to do a phone interview, many of my questions were about his work for them. And, most of the artwork I picked to go with my transcript of the interview is menís adventure art. But we also talked about other aspects of his life and career.

Jim is now 88 years old. He no longer paints. Due to a degenerative eye condition he is virtually blind. But he remains busy dealing with museums, galleries, printmakers, book publishers, reporters and fans. And, his mind is still razor sharp. He is also amazingly affable and cheery. It was a wonderful experience to talk with him and I learned some details about his life and art that I had not read anywhere.

Hereís how our conversation went...

MensPulpMags.com editor Bob Deis: Thanks for talking with me, Jim. I am a huge fan of all of your work, and I especially love your work for the menís adventure magazines that I write about on my blog and in books.

Jim Bama: Itís funny that you called about those today. A lady from the Whitney Western Art Museum was here this morning to talk to me about my photographs. Thereís a show of some of the photos I took for my Western paintings at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody [Wyoming] this month and sheís giving a talk about them. Iíve always taken my own photos. Iíve taken about 55,000 since the 1950s. Anyway, for some reason or other, a few weeks ago I pulled out a file I have on my menís adventure career. I have about 25 color reproductions of covers I did for the Magazine Management magazines, and I showed them to her this morning. She was so interested she took about ten of them with her, and sheís going to show them when she gives the talk on my photographs. Now, youíre calling me about them. How small a world can that be?

Hereís another coincidence for you. I recently reread the AMERICAN REALIST book and it reminded me that Harlan Ellison had written the introduction. Back in the day, Harlan wrote a few stories for menís adventure magazines and he gave me permission to reprint a couple of them them. One is included in one of the books I co-edited.

Bama: What a character Harlan is. He had this TV show ďSci Fi BuzzĒ and heís a big fan of mine. He did a five-minute segment on me, which he sent me a tape of. Iíve never met him in person, but he wrote the most flattering letter to me. And he wrote a very flattering introduction to the AMERICAN REALIST book. He said my artwork is magnificent. Heís quite a character.

He certainly is and heís totally right about your artwork.

Bama: Well, thank you. I donít know if you know this, but I when I left New York in 1968 to move to Wyoming, the place I was using to take photographs at that time had a huge corrugated garbage bin and I threw away all my menís adventure magazine paintings. I think I may have one left out of hundreds. But someone must have picked them out of the garbage bin because some of them have appeared on the secondary market since then.

Oh, my God!!! Artists Bruce Minney and Gil Cohen told me similar stories when I interviewed them. They were moving and didnít want to cart a couple of hundred paintings on illustration board along with them, so they just threw out or sold them cheap.

Bama: We were moving from a four-room apartment house in mid-Manhattan to a cabin out in Wyoming, and I didnít have room for all that stuff. We moved out there with a pickup truck and a camper. I put all my furniture in storage in New York, and I just threw out my menís adventure paintings. I didnít think theyíd have any significance at that time. But, you know, I wish I had kept them now. What do they sell for?

It varies with the artist, but in the hundreds for interior paintings and in the thousands for cover paintings. Iím looking on the Heritage Auctions website right now and I see one menís adventure cover painting you did that sold in 2009 for $3,300 and an interior illustration by you that sold for over a thousand that same year.

Bama: There was one I did of a Marine sergeant with these native gals that I remember seeing had sold for sixty-five hundred. I stopped doing the menís adventure things in the mid-1960s. I started in 1956, Bob, and around the same time I also started doing paperbacks. By sheer coincidence, I was at a party in New York and a lot of the art directors from the paperbacks were there. So was my friend Mort Kunstler. He was doing work for menís adventure magazines, too, and was already big in paperbacks then. And, Mort said to Len Leone, who was the Art Director at Bantam Books, ďYou ought to use Jim.Ē

And, he did.

Yes, Len and I decided to meet and I went up there and we started a long relationship. I eventually did a couple hundred paperback covers for Bantam and then other book companies wanted me, And, the paperback covers paid more, so I eased out of doing the menís adventure illustrations. But I did them for years. I used to stay up on weeknights and every weekend, Bob, and Iíd do those and paperback covers.

To me, itís mind-boggling that you were also still working for Cooper Studios during the daytime doing artwork for advertising clients. You sure had a lot of energy.

Bama: Yes, I did. I was hired to do advertising art by Cooper Studios right out of art school and I was still doing that. But they let their artists do magazine and book art, too. So, on weekends, I would watch SEA HUNT, HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, GUN SMOKE, THE LATE SHOW and THE LATE LATE SHOW and do menís adventure paintings. I worked until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night to do those things. And do you know what I got paid for them?

Well, based on what other artists have told me, Iíd guess a few hundred dollars.

Bama: Yeah, $300 for the inside and $400 for the covers. For all the work I put in.

Of course, when you account for in inflation, $300 to $400 was a bit more than it sounds like in todayís dollars. Hard-working artists like you and Mort Kunstler, who did illustrations for magazines and paperbacks on a regular basis could earn a pretty good living.

Bama: True, youíre going up like 10 times. I bought a new convertible in 1956 for $3,000, a Chevy convertible. Now, it would cost over $30,000. I was single and I lived like a king on $20,000 a year. I lived in an apartment house with a doorman. I had a convertible. I had a garage, I traveled, I had an annuity, all on $20,000 a year. Now, I donít know if weíd last two months. Anyway, I did a menís adventure illustration almost every week for about eight years. And, I learned a lot from doing them. Each one gave me a different challenge in terms of compositional problems and some required a lot of research. I did those and paperback covers and my advertising artwork every week. How old are you, Bob?

Iím 64.

Bama: Iím 88 now. I canít believe it. I feel great. I work out all the time. Iím healthy and my mind is good. I have such a good memory. But now Iím legally blind. This month, my wife Lynne and I have known each other for 51 years, weíve been married for 49.

I read in the AMERICAN REALIST book that she modeled for a lot of your famous paperback covers, such as the cover of John Leo Herlihyís novel MIDNIGHT COWBOY.

Bama: Thatís true.

Did she model for any of your menís adventure magazine artwork?

Bama: No. But I used a lot of my artist friends who worked at Cooper Studios. I used Mort Kunstler for some. And, I used myself. You know, I read a magazine article about Martin Goodman, the publisher of the menís adventure magazines I worked for, like MEN, MALE, FOR MEN ONLY and STAG. I found out from the article that he also put out romance and Hollywood magazines, too. The article said the menís adventure magazines outsold all of those. They would sell like a million copies each month and Mr. Goodman made millions of dollars and we artists did them for a pittance. I found that out a couple of years ago.

Goodman was a definitely a publishing genius. And of course, he also founded Timely Comics, which became Marvel.

Bama: Yeah, he made a lot of money. I remember meeting him. He had white hair. He seemed like a nice man to me. And, the editor Bruce Jay Friedman, who became a well-known writer, heís a very nice guy.

Yes, he is. He let us reprint a couple of his stories in our first anthology of menís adventure stories and wrote an introduction for our second book, which collects stories written by a guy named Walter Kaylin. Walter worked at Goodmanís Magazine Management company when Bruce Friedman and Mario Puzo were there.

Bama: I donít remember meeting Puzo. But I knew he was there and I know later became famous for writing THE GODFATHER. I do have great memories of the Art Directors there, Mel Blum and Larry Graber. Mel was the Art Director before Larry. Larry is still alive and he and I still talk. We talked a few weeks ago. Heís 91 now. He just had two hip replacements. Mel and I were good friends, too. We were both weight lifters. In fact, he was a professional strong man. He used to put on shows, and we became good friends. And I remember we double-dated and we went to Palisades Park in New Jersey and they have this thing where you hit something with the big hammer and the gong goes off. As strong as he was, he couldnít do it. He was so muscle-bound. We were good friends.

Iíve read that Mel Blum was partially deaf.

Bama: Oh, yeah. When he didnít want to listen to you, he turned his hearing aide off. Yeah, we were good friends and had a very good working relationship. I donít think he ever gave me a correction on anything. I stopped doing the menís adventure art before I stopped doing paperback covers, because the paperbacks paid better and were really taking off at that time. Bantam was the best company. I started working for them and did hundreds, including Doc Savage. Theyíre still using my Doc Savages. Anthony Tollin [at Sanctum Books] is putting out new editions of all the old Doc Savage stories from the Ď30s and Ď40s and theyíre using my Doc Savage covers. And, Brian Kane did an interview with me thatís in one of them. [Vol. #18, THE MONSTERS and THE WHISKER OF HERCULES]. So, Iím still involved in that world. And, thereís still a big following for my Aurora monster kit artwork, which I quit in 1965. I did the first 22 Monster Kits and I finally quit. They started having Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy, and the Wolfman riding hotrod cars, drinking blood from cocktail girls, driving through cemeteries. It got to be too much. The art director used to leave the assignments in my office when I was out to lunch because he knew I didnít want to do them anymore. But at first it was fun and they sold a million copies of each model. You know for $300, Bob, I was a well-paid slave. I wanted to be an illustrator since I can remember and I never was interested in money, and I just did them. I was always busy and I happen to have done a few things that are still popular. I canít escape tem. I tell my wife the monsters and Doc Savage are going to outlive me.

Well, there are also some big fans of your menís adventure magazine artwork, like me.

Bama: Oh, really?

Oh, yeah.

Bama: When did those magazines fold, Bob? I quit a couple of years before I moved to Wyoming.

Well, their heyday was really from the mid-1950s to the late-1960s, when you worked for them. Some menís adventure magazines kept hanging on until the late Ď70s. Some turned into complete **** mags. By the Ď80s the whole genre had basically disappeared.

Bama: Yeah, even the biggest ones, like ARGOSY and TRUE, both of which I worked for, theyíre gone. Everything is gone, even the SATURDAY EVENING POST, which I also worked for, theyíre all gone.

I know you did some great artwork for ARGOSY and TRUE. But most of your menís adventure work was for the Magazine Management magazines, right?

Bama: Yes, STAG, MALE, MEN, FOR MEN ONLY...

Your artwork also shows up in other Magazine Management mags like ACTION FOR MEN, MANíS WORLD and TRUE ACTION.

Bama: And, KEN FOR MEN. I remember KEN. Iíve still got a copy of that. It was a long time ago, a long time ago. But I have a very good memory and I remember everything.

Can I ask you some questions about the chronology of things?

Bama: Sure.

Iíve read that you served in the Army Air Corps. Did you see action in World War Two.

Bama: No, I was stationed Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. I was in high school when the war started. In 1943, I thought Iíd try and become an officer in the Air Corps, and it took a year-and-a-half to qualify. So, I enlisted in high school four months before I turned 18. By the time I got in, five weeks after I turned 18, the war in Europe had ended. And they sent me from Fort Dix, New Jersey down to Mississippi in the middle of June for basic training. I never perspired so much in my life. All you do is drink liquid and go to the bathroom. You know Iíd never been away from home and it was hard work. I was a good athlete, but I was a skinny kid. I weighed about 130 pounds.

Well, Iíd say your ability to paint anything well is apparent in the battle scenes you did for menís adventure magazines. Theyíre amazingly realistic. What did you do in the places where you were stationed?

Bama: I took basic training in Mississippi, and then they sent me to Moultrie, Georgia, to the Spence Air Base in Moultrie, which was in the eastern flying training command. They made me a mechanic. They put me in charge of six airplanes and we would service them and gas them up. I also painted a mural there because they found out I was an artist. There was a mural that wasnít completed in the Enlisted Manís building, and the guy who started it had been sent overseas. So, I finished it. And, then they sent me to Tifton Airfield near Spence Field. The guys that graduated from Spence Field and got their wings, they sent them to Tifton to fly Curtiss P-40's or to work on them. Then the war with Japan ended and I got out. I was 19 years old.

So that was 1946, right?

Bama: Yes, I got out in November 9, 1946. I remember the date. I went in June 13, 1945 and I got out November 9, 1946. My father died when I was 14 and my mother had her third stroke and died while I was in the service. I got out of the service and I didnít have any money. I moved in with my two aunts and my uncle. My brother had moved in with them already. All I had was a folding cot, a corrugated clothing closet, and my uncle built me a wooden box for my art supplies. Life was so much simpler then.

It was around that time when you went to study art at the Art Students League in New York?

Bama: Yes, I went to the Art Students League, and I got the most incredible training you could ever get with Frank J. Reilly, who was a disciple of Dean Cornwell. I got great training for 32 months. Then and I got out of art school when I was 22 and I was off and running. By the time I was 24, I got into Cooper Studios, which was the best advertising studio in the country and doing big time stuff for companies like Coke, Ford and General Electric.

- END OF PART 1 -


http://www.menspulpmags.com/2014/05/an-interview-with-james-bama-part-1.html
Report Spam   Logged

Shadowraith
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 2066



« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2018, 02:18:12 am »

Report Spam   Logged
Shadowraith
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 2066



« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2018, 02:20:36 am »

Report Spam   Logged
Shadowraith
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 2066



« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2018, 02:20:51 am »

Report Spam   Logged
Shadowraith
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 2066



« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2018, 02:21:12 am »

Report Spam   Logged
Shadowraith
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 2066



« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2018, 02:21:37 am »

Report Spam   Logged
Shadowraith
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 2066



« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2018, 02:22:04 am »

Report Spam   Logged
Shadowraith
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 2066



« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2018, 02:22:41 am »

Report Spam   Logged
Shadowraith
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 2066



« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2018, 02:23:34 am »

Report Spam   Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy