Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pulp Artists: Sam Savitt

When I was growing up, I was obsessed with horses. I daydreamed about them, drew them, collected plastic versions, pretended to ride them in the back yard, and most of all, read about them. I devoured books about horses. Fiction and non-fiction both. I studied and memorized books about the care and upkeep of horses, and memorized the drawings that showed proper equitation.

Sam Savitt was a big part of that world. His drawings were everywhere: in the books on how to take care of your horse, how to ride. Books on famous horses and those not so famous. Charts on the confirmation of the horse. Horse magazine illustrations. He was as big a part of my world and my dreams as famous pulp writers may have been to those who were devoted to their work, or as Stan Lee was to comic book aficionados.

So I now write with tremendous pleasure about San Savitt's career illustrating for the pulp magazines. He did do a few covers, but the majority of his work was interior.

Sam Savitt was born Sam Savitz on March 22, 1917 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a coalmine town. He didn't have a lot of close exposure to horses while he was growing up - his father was a timekeeper at an iron foundry and so the family was probably very poor - but apparently he was fascinated by the horses and mules he saw in town.

Savitt (who started his career under his original name Savitz but eventually changed it to Savitt) started as a cartoonist and moved to New York city after school to find work as a cartoonist. It wasn't long before he was able to get work doing interior work for ACTION PACKED WESTERN, and later for FIGHTING WESTERN, SPEED WESTERN, THRILLING RANCH STORIES, RANCH ROMANCES, FIGHT STORIES, THE RIO KID WESTERN, POPULAR WESTERN, MASKED RIDER, EXCITING WESTERN, and others.

In the 1950s Sam Savitt worked for Dell comic books, painting covers for many of their titles, including Hi-Yo Silver. Finally, in the 1950s, Savitt was finally able to buy his own horse ranch.

In the 1960s he worked for several men's adventure magazines such as Outdoor Life, Real, See For Men, Sports Afield, and True. It was also during this time that his career as a book illustrator truly took off and he became probably the most sought after illustrator for horse books. He was the official artist of the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Training Team. In 1998 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Horsemen's Association.

Sam Savitt died in 2000, but his legacy lives on. As for me, he'll always be the artist who brought joy and dreams to a little girl who only wanted to ride horses.

Special thanks to David Saunders' web site

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Great post! Thx!

Cap'n Bob said...

I wasn't aware of Savitt and I'm grateful for the education. I've probably seen his work many times and didn't know it.
BTW, my girls got the horse bug and trained and competed for several years. I considered them very brave for doing it, especially when you consider the nasty falls they had.

Deka Black said...

Wow, That's a lot of drawerd horses. And a very good one.

Ron Scheer said...

Thanks for the lesson. At one time I wanted to go into illustration and I like learning about those (more talented) who did. dad, born in the same year, grew up working with farm horses and never seemed to miss them.

Richard R. said...

very interesting, Laurie, I hadn't heard of this fine illustrator before.

Melissa Marsh said...

I always tried to draw horses when I was in my childhood drawing phase. I failed miserably.

delia said...

I was lucky enough to have met Sam, that was a funny story in itself. He and a couple of other equine artists were a great influence in my equine art, starting way back in the early 50's. I have a large collection of Comics he did, and when I told him he said, bring them in and I'll sign the covers...I did not want to take advantage of him so bought in just a few, he signed them all. Sam also gave me the huge sheet of paper he was illustrating on. Not only was he a talented man he was nice and thoughtful.

Conrad said...

My name is Conrad and I inherited 2 original piece from by Sam Savitt. It was signed by him in 1984... I am not sure what it is worth. I need info on them please