Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Sunny summer Monday. A perfect day to remember a great illustrator who was equally good at dangerous air missions and criminal investigations.

A man who wanted to study art not for the sake of art and not for pleasure but as a means to pull himself out of poverty. Yeah, this fine cover artist was practically self-educated. Belarski's first assignment in the world of pulp was in the genre of air stories, immensely popular in early 1930s, echoing the Great War. Today one of his first illustrations is praised as an all-time classic:

Rudolph Belarski was born May 27, 1900 in Dupont, Pennsylvania, a mining town*. His parents were unskilled immigrants from Galicia, an Austrian Polish nation. Young Belarski attended school until he was twelve, when he was legally entitled to quit school and work in the coal mines, which he did for ten years. He studied mail-order art courses at night from the International Correspondence School, Inc. of Scranton, PA.

He moved to NYC in 1922 to study at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He graduated in 1926 and later taught at Pratt from 1928 until 1933.
Belarski first worked for Dell Publications doing interiors and covers for adventure pulps about the Great War, such as War Aces, War Birds, T. X. O'Leary's War Birds, War Novels, and War Stories.

By 1935 Belarski began painting pulp covers for Thrilling Publications, such as Air War, American Eagle, Black Book Detective, Detective Novels, G-Men Detective, Lone Eagle, Mystery Book, The Phantom Detective, Popular Detective, Sky Fighters, Startling Stories, Thrilling Adventures, Thrilling Detective, Thrilling Mystery, and Thrilling Wonder.

Belarski also painted covers for pulps published by Munsey, such as All-American Fiction, Argosy, Big Chief, Cavalier Classics, Detective Fiction Weekly, Double Detective, and Red Star Adventures. He also worked for Fiction House pulps, such as Aces, Air Stories, Lariat Stories, and Wings.

During WW2 Belarski was too old for military service, but he joined the USO to draw thousands of portrait sketches of hospitalized servicemen in NY and London hospitals.

After the war Belarski became the foremost paperback cover artist for Popular Library until 1951.

He then worked for men's adventure magazines until 1960, such as Adventure, Argosy, For Men Only, Man's Conquest, Man's Illustrated, Man's World, Men, Outdoor Life, Stag, and True Adventure.

Belarski moved to Westport Connecticut in 1956 and became a correspondence art instructor at the Famous Artists School until his retirement in 1972.

Rudolph Belarski died at age 83 of colitis complications on December 24, 1983.


* Text: © David Saunders 2009, pulpartists.com

Images are brought to us by the ever-amazing Golden Age Comic Book Stories blog. See more covers and illustrations by Rudolph Belarski in our new album (53 images) or enjoy the slideshow:

Find more photos like this on Dieselpunks

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Comment by lord_k on June 6, 2011 at 1:51pm
Well, come rain and come shine...
Comment by lojzo on June 6, 2011 at 1:42pm
Great pictures, just a pity that the summer monday is very rainy here. :-)

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