Walter Baumhofer, king of the pulps Walter Baumhofer, king of the pulps

American Art Archives scans and text are copyrighted material.
(CLICK for more information) --
None of it is in the public domain.


Walter Baumhofer
(1904 - 1987)

Baumhofer remains best known as the King of the Pulps, but his long legacy reaches far beyond that moniker. Blessed with a long and fluid career, Baumhofer was one of the few artists who successfully bounced from the pulps to the slicks, thanks in large part to his exceptional skill as an artist. He could capture a pretty girl in a handsome man's arms as easily as he could grab readers with a pulp monster threatening the world.

He started at Adventure magazine, doing story interiors when fellow artist, H Winfield Scott, told him he'd make a more money with color covers. Baumhofer liked the paycheck covers offered and, because of his talent, he was soon churning out crime, western, and thriller paintings. Some 550 pulp covers grace his resume, including Detective Tales, Fire Fighters, Wild West Weekly, Ace High, Gangland, Gangland Stories, Danger Trail, Western Story, The Spider, Spy Stories, Dime Mystery, Dime Detective, and of course, Adventure.

Baumhofer also did the first Doc Savage covers (an art director told Baumhofer that Savage was "a Man of Bronze -- known as Doc, who looks very much like Clark Gable. He is so well built that the impression is not of size, but of power"; Baumhofer got most of this impeccably, though his Savage does not look like Gable. In fact, he has an uncanny resemblance to Baumhofer's other serial hero, the cowboy, Pete Rice.

There were even bigger bucks to be made in the slicks and by 1936, Baumhofer was looking to expand. He had little trouble making the transition, starting with Liberty, and then had success after succeeds with American Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Woman's Home Companion, Country Gentleman, This Week, Macao’s, Redbook, American Magazine, Woman's Day, Collier's, Esquire. As the ledge on which illustrators could stand grew narrower in the later 50s, Baumhofer moved to the more rugged, out-doorsie themes he'd always had a knack for, producing vivid calendar pieces as well as cover and interior work for True, Argosy, Sports Afield, Outdoor Life.

American Weekly, "The Acid Test" (1954) Baumhofer - 001A
NOTE: The original is on top, the printed version below.

American Weekly, "The Spy Wore Crinoline" (1955) Baumhofer - 002A
NOTE: The original is on top, the printed version below.

Doc Savage (1933) Baumhofer - 003

Doc Savage (1933) Baumhofer - 004

Doc Savage (1936) Baumhofer - 005

Doc Savage (1936) Baumhofer - 006

Doc Savage (1936) Baumhofer - 007

Gangland Stories (May-June 1931) Baumhofer - 008

Maxwell House Coffee, "Home for Christmas..." (1945) Baumhofer - 009

Pete Rice Magazine (May 1934) Baumhofer - 010

American Magazine (July 1949) Baumhofer - 011

Country Gentleman, "Beam to Brazil" (April 1943) Baumhofer - 012

Spy Stories (March 1929) Baumhofer - 013

American Weekly (8 February 1959) Baumhofer - 014

Dime Mystery (April 1939) Baumhofer - 014

Argosy, "The Skull-Crackers" (March 1954) Baumhofer - 016

Adventure (15 August 1935) Baumhofer - 017

American Magazine, "The Silver Dream" (August 1950) Baumhofer - 018

Simmons Beautyrest (1941) Baumhofer - 019

Simmons Beautyrest (1941) Baumhofer - 020
NOTE: Most people think that the sleeping arrangement below is the "censored" or "prudish" one and the one above is the "normal" one. This is a modern way of thinking, but it's lacking. Simmons sold both large beds and singles for couples. Some couples (my own folks) don't sleep well together (my father, despite his polio, was a very active sleeper and either bruised mom in his sleep or just made a restful night for her impossible). So when you see couples in seperate beds in older movies and TV shows, keep in mind that it was not just a case of censorship. Some couples actually slept that way (and still had kids...wonder how they did it).

Simmons Beautyrest (1941) Baumhofer - 021

Liberty, "Hell in the Holy Land" (1936) Baumhofer - 022

Quick-Trigger Western (November 1929) Baumhofer - 023

The American (April 1949) Baumhofer - 024