Saturday, June 14, 2008

Neglected: The Underappreciated Art of Earl Norem

Norem's cover for Marvel Books' "GI JOE: The Spy Eye" (Cover artist only)

I've been meaning to do this for a while now, but scanning is one of my least favorite things to do in the world.

Scanning tons on pages in a row...I figure while everyone else in hell is pushing boulders up hills, that's what I'll be doing.

But, posting art created by Earl Norem is the duty of any fan of his work. Why, because he has gone virtually unknown. You've probably seen his work, especially if you grew up in the 80s, read comics in the 70s, or men's adventure or western magazines in the 50s and 60s.

Norem's career spans 50+ years. He's created hundreds of works of art. He's worked on well know and beloved properties like GI Joe, Transformers, Masters of the Universe, Conan and Star Wars. Men's adventure magazine, comic books, fantasy and role-playing games, Marvel magazine covers, posters, Reader Digest and Classics Illustrated. He was so prolific, I wouldn't even begin to know how to start a bibliography of his work. It's probably impossible, unless Earl himself complied it.

Norem's cover for Golden's Super Adventures Book "Masters of the Universe: The Magic Mirrors" (cover artist only)

Norem's a classic illustrator in the best possible sense of the phrase. He can bring a realism to even the most preposterous scene. His compositions are energetic and dynamic. They have an atmosphere unto themselves. He's able to boil the action down to one explosive scene, capturing a key moment in time. The paintings are like the absolute best possible scenes that you can imagine while reading a good book. Actually, a Earl Norem painting is usually better than anything your mind can conjure up.

Men's magazine interior illustration for "The Violent Five"
Look at the composition. The Hero has the girl in his arms and he flies a jet, while in the back a guy punches a guy firing a gun!

Norem's cover for Marvel Magazine's "Planets of the Apes" #21

Norem's cover of Action for Men.
Norem makes the most ludicrous situations look possible. A guy punches another off a boat with a golden babe and Go-Go Dancers in cages, all the while harpooners zip up on jet ski boats. I don't think any story could live up to that image.

How Norem's name isn't uttered in the same breath as the greats like Kirby, Steranko, Frazetta, and Eisner is beyond me.

Plans are to randomly post Norem's work on the blog. All posts will have a "Earl Norem" tag. Anyone is welcome to use my scans on their sites. My scans will have the "Underappreciated..." tag and the url tag, otherwise the image is something collected online, i.e. I'm not the source and should not be credited for it. If you decide to crop the title and URL off, that's cool to. If possible post a link to the blog. Mainly I just want to raise as much awareness as possible and get Earl Norem's work online so it can be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone.


Jay Amabile said...

Props to you for these amazing series of Norem's work. I would've never realized that a lot of those books I read as a kid were all done by him.

Anonymous said... is starting up.

theblock said...

Such a cool blog you got going here, glad to see there are other Earl Norem fans out there, I actually did a digital art piece inspired by some of his MOTU cover art! Though I can't say it's as good as He would of done it, check it out: !

mike Lemos said...

Norem is definitely a big favorite of mine and I had the honor of doing a Hercules trading card for Topps with him though I've never met him.

Here's a link:

By the way, I'm considering selling the original of this piece if anyone is interested, it's not signed by Earl, but it's definitely his work (His Hercules, my Antaeus and background)

Thanks for scanning and posting this stuff, I'm always finding work I haven't seen before...

THE SIR, James Suhr said...

Thank you for this post. I just recently was doing a post about him when I ran across your great entry and have linked to it. I have bookmarked your site and eagerly await what great stuff you will unearth for us--the agents of T.A.R.D. rock!

Kelly Ishikawa said...

Hey, this is fantastic!!! I'm following this blog in the hopes of more.

I used to love and collect the "Wizards, Warriors and YOU" game books that Earl Norem painted. I had a G.I. Joe book with a painting of his ("The Trojan Gambit"). And my room was plastered with his He-Man magazine posters. I know that has pictures of the posters, but they are really tiny. These scans you have are really great.

I really hope you find more of his storybooks and post them up. Those are really incredible and I've never seen these G.I. Joe ones before.

Thanks for posting them!

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AmbroseKalifornia said...

Very cool stuff. I don't remember these particular books, but this guy's style seems mighty familiar. Very masculine, he look like he'd be drawing pulp mags for boys!

And your for passion for his art has made another fan. Nice scans.

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