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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pulp and Not Pulp

One of my favorite...sites? ...feeds?  It's a Tumblr feed, so I guess either one applies.  In any case, one of my favorite sources of information right now is Not Pulp Covers, which bills itself as "Pin-up, Illustrations, Advertisements, and Other Things that are Not Pulp Covers".  It's a fantastic source for art and photography, classic and modern, that has a pulp or pin-up influence.  It's helped introduce me to classic illustrators whose work I've seen but never been able to name, and broadened my perspective on artists that I've known for a long time.
It's also helped me realize a few things about myself.  Mainly that I enjoy the movie poster art a lot more than I enjoy a lot of movies.  I enjoy book covers a lot more than I do many books.  I enjoy game concept art much more than I enjoy any actual gaming.  I appreciate a powerful single, visual image more than I do the work it illustrates.
Just for example, look at the image above, pulled from a recent post on NPC....there's more dramatic tension involved in that painted scene than I suspect inhabits the entirety of the movie, which can't help but look dated and dull in comparison.  I think it has a lot to do with the imagination that's engaged by a powerful image like this.  An interested viewer will create their own backstory for such an image, and do a quick bit of mental worldbuilding that explains how this moment came to be, and projects how it could possibly work out.  So much more happens, for me at least, in even a quick analysis of that one image than results from a viewing of the entire film, and like a Lovecraftian vision, it has greater scale and scope in the mind than can ever be shown in the screen.
I am a reader, and a cinemaphile...but definitely not a gamer in anything more than a casual sense.  But I am a visual artist, first and foremost, and I think I need to spend more time focusing on that aspect rather than trying to consume so many books and movies, and feeling guilty for not getting around to my growing game disc and Steam library collection.  It's a  somewhat liberating feeling to be able to recognize what it is that you love about a thing and be able to put aside the rest of it.  It certainly has the potential to free up a lot of time.

Related to this, by the way, is the companion site, Pulp Covers.  Run, as far as I can tell, by the same people, this one showcases the covers and some interior art from classic pulp magazines and trashy paperbacks.  The art is melodramatic and often cheesy, and much of it is blatantly sexist, but it also has a visual style that's fascinating to look at.  It's amazing to see the level of skill and sense of design that was brought to work that was essentially considered throwaway.  Except, of course, that thanks to sites like Pulp Covers and Not Pulp Covers, it's no longer throwaway, but it recontextualized as Art, and that's good to see.

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