Today we honor a talented pulp artist whose paintings combine imagination with technical accuracy.
Francis Xavier Theban Tinsley was born November 29, 1899 in Manhattan, New York City. His father was Francis B. Tinsley, who immigrated from England and owned his own wholesale coal yard. His mother was Gertrude R. Theban, who was born in NYC of German, French, English, and Irish ancestry. There were six Tinsley children, and Frank was the third born of three sisters and two brothers. They lived in a private brownstone in East Harlem at 159 East 116th Street, which was the home of his mother's parents, Mrs. & Mrs. Theodore Theban, a Post Office Record Clerk.
After he finished high school in 1917 he worked with an artist as an apprentice in the Research Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
On September 13, 1918 he reported for his draft registration for the World War and was recorded to be tall and slender built with brown eyes and auburn hair. No medical problems. His military service was spent as a draftsman in a Design Section of the War Department. According to the artist, "I was probably the youngest dollar-a-year man in the the country during World War One."
By 1920 he was listed as a freelance "Pen & Ink Artist" for unknown publications. He also worked as a scenic artist and adviser-director for Cosmopolitan Films Inc., making silent moving pictures in NYC. This early motion-picture studio was owned by William Randolph Hearst, who was a personal friend.
He married Emily Hughes in 1924. They had no children.
By 1928 he had begun to sell freelance interior story illustrations and pulp cover paintings to Action Stories, Air Stories, Air Trails, Bill Barnes Air Trails, George Bruce's Contact, Lariat Story, North West Stories, Sky Birds, War Birds, and Western Story.
The most memorable were his "Bill Barnes" series covers, starting from 1934. Stories were written by George L. Eaton. Here's a short extract from "Bill Barnes Takes a Holiday":
BILL BARNES slowly pushed back the chair in which he was sitting in the living-room of his bungalow on Barnes Field, Long Island, got to his feet and moved over to a window overlooking the myriad concrete and tarvia runways that crisscrossed the field. The transverse bands of yellow-and-black pigment painted across the runways, to aid in night or fog landings, gleamed in the glare of the morning sun.
In 1942 Tinsley was the author and illustrator of the serialized newspaper comic strip, "Yankee Doodle". The name of the strip was soon changed to "Captain Yank".
In the 1950s he wrote and illustrated numerous articles for Mechanix Illustrated.
In 1954 the Tinsleys moved to 44 Otter Cove Drive in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, where he was soon active in community affairs. he served as chairman of the Town Planning Commission, Head of the Flood Control Board, Director of the Chamber of Commerce, and Founding President of the Old Saybrook Historical Society.
Frank Tinsley died of a heart attack at his home at age 65 on June 23, 1965.
Text © David Saunders 2009 @ pulpartists.com
To be continued ...
There's more Tinsley's covers and artwork in our album. Browse it or enjoy the slideshow:
Special thanks to Golden Age Comic Book Stories