To put it simply, Margaret Brundage is a legend. Her sensual, transgressive covers for Weird Tales are among the most memorable of the pulp era, and through them she set a new standard for pulp art. Her work was sui generis in its time and still very much feels that way, possessing an intangible spirit of the artist that many continue to adore. And yet, beyond her art, for a long time Brundage herself has remained a mystery many fans have wished to solve, partly because of the greatness of her art and partly because of the secrecy surrounding much of her life beyond it.
Enter The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage, compiled by Stephen D. Korshak and J. David Spurlock, which will be released May 15 this year. Part art book, part biography, this monograph collects all of Brundage’s covers for Weird Tales alongside previously unpublished pictures, paintings, and sketches. The art portion of the book will be no surprise to fans of Brundage, nor does it need to be: it is a joy to see all of her covers collected in one place, in fantastic quality. The insight into the method of her art is more than welcome, however, as we get to see how she built her covers from sketches and possible photographic references.
What’s truly surprising (and impressive) about this book is the plethora of research divulged by the various contributors, most notably in co-editor Spurlock’s essay “The Secret Life of Margaret Brundage,” which unifies previously unknown details about the artist’s life, especially her rich and complex family life, with important historical context. Spurlock hints at this in our interview with him this week, as he points out how Brundage was heavily involved in several important countercultural movements of the 1920s and 30s – the Dil Pickle Club, Bronzeville, the International Workers of the World – alongside her husband, Slim Brundage; together, the two of them were active players within the larger labor movement in politics at the time. Throughout the book, these glimpses into the previously unseen parts of Brundage’s life fill the gaps in our understanding of her in unexpected and poignant ways. They provide valuable context for her art, but they also show us how Brundage herself and her actions beyond her art are just as important.
Those interested in Margaret Brundage, the art of the Weird Tales era, and pulp art in general would be well advised to visit Vanguard Publications to read more about this book and pre-order it. Vangaurd is offering three different versions of this book – softcover, hardcover, and a deluxe hardcover limited edition with additional, exclusive material. Regardless of your preferred edition, this book is a strong investment and a fitting tribute to one of weird fiction’s greatest artists.