I've always liked R.G. Harris' work for WILD WEST WEEKLY. Some of my favorite Sonny Tabor covers were painted by this talented artist during the 1936-37 period. I didn't know until recently that Harris had also done many DOC SAVAGE covers, and I bet a lot of people don't that either, as Walter Baumhofer is best known as the Doc Savage artist. Many pulp fans I know have told me recently that they really like Harris' work and always felt that he was an unsung hero of the pulps. Not only did he do DOC SAVAGE, but he also worked steadily for many other magazines such as COMPLETE STORIES, DOUBLE ACTION WESTERN, PETE RICE WESTERN, THRILLING ADVENTURES, WESTERN ROUND-UP and WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE.
Robert George Harris was born September 9, 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri, and he studied at the Kansas City Art Institute. In 1933 he moved to New York City (www.pulpartists.com says that he drove a motorcycle all the way to New York City and opened up an art studio in New Rochelle) and it certainly didn't take long for him to get work, because from what I can see, his covers for mags such as WESTERN STORY started to appear as early as 1934. Not bad for an artist during the Great Depression.
Harris was one of those that ended up "graduating" to the "slick" magazines such as COSMOPOLITAN, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, LADIES HOME JOURNAL, REDBOOK, AND THE SATURDAY EVENING POST. Hard to believe that the man behind such gritty covers as this WWW cover....
would end up doing work for staid ladies' magazines, but he did, and the illustrations are wonderful.
Pulp Artists.com says "During WWII he volunteered to join the USO Artists For Freedom Project, which was organized by the NY Society of Illustrators to bring together over 200 artists to draw thousands of portrait sketches of wounded servicemen recuperating in military hospitals. Harris visited hospitals in New York, Connecticut, Virginia, and North Carolina."
After the war, Harris gained a reputation as a fine illustrator and worked steadily for the slick magazines and such companies as Coca-Cola anad Cannon Sheets. He also gained considerable success as a portrait artist. The Arizona Republic reported that "his oil portraits hang in the Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., and in many private collections in the United States."
In 2004, ILLUSTRATION magazine published "An Artist's Life," Harris' biography co-written by his daughter Marcia Harris Sewell. The article is accompanies by a list of his portrait work and work done for the slick magazines, but not for the pulps.
Harris lived his last years in Arizona and died at age of 96 on December 23, 2007.
WESTERN ROUNDUP, August, 1934
WILD WEST WEEKLY, March 28, 1936
WILD WEST WEEKLY, May 23, 1936
WILD WEST WEEKLY, August 15, 1936
WILD WEST WEEKLY, December 26, 1936
DOC SAVAGE, November 1936
DOC SAVAGE, May 1937
DOC SAVAGE, June 1937
DOC SAVAGE, September 1937
DOC SAVAGE, October 1937
PETE RICE, June 1939
For more works by R.G. Harris, go to this page where various works of his were up for auction, as listed by Arcadia Auctions. Included on this page is a portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This page at American Gallery also has several illustrations from the slick magazines. For a list of his work in the pulps, go to the Fiction Mags Index.
Sources for this post, including photo of Harris: www.pulpartists.com
William Lampkin's tribute to R.G. Harris at Yellowed Perils
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