(Ed. Note: There’s a little nudity down below, so if that’s a problem, just read the text.)
I’m coming to this a bit late because Earl Norem died last weekend, a full week ago, an eternity in internet time. Nevertheless, his passing is significant and I feel the need to mark it. Since his passing there have been many tributes to this artist who signed his work simply Norem, and I don’t think I can add anything significant to everything that has already been said about him.
He was a gigantic talent and regularly and consistently produced work of the highest caliber from his early days illustrating for the Men’s magazines in the 50’s and 60’s, through to his many cover paintings he did for Marvel Magazines in the 70’s, to his illustratiions of HE-MAN and MARS ATTACKS cards, Norem was tireless. He never failed to bring his best to anything that he was working on. Over his long career, Norem also illustrated covers for novels and gaming books, as well as movie posters, baseball programs, and trading cards.
Norem was born on April 17, 1924. He saw extensive military action in World War II with the 85th Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division until he was wounded, which ended his military stint.
Upon returning to the US, Norem embarked on an illustration career and throughout the 1950s and 1960s worked extensively for men’s adventure magazines, producing covers and interior-art spreads. In addition, he produced illustrations for such magazines as Reader’s Digest, Field and Stream, Ski, Real West, and Discover.
His work for Marvel Comics, though, was where I was first introduced to him. Those cover paintings for some of Marvel’s biggest selling magazines were wondrous to behold. Anyone who regularly purchased issues of the Savage Sword of Conan black and white comic, would have been treated to a Norem cover. His work appeared all over the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Magazine, Marvel Preview, Tales of the Zombie, Monsters Unleashed, Planet of the Apes, Rampaging Hulk, The Silver Surfer, and storybooks featuring Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four.
His Transformers work consisted of four Marvel Big Looker storybooks (published 1984–1986), some of which were later adapted into “read along” storybooks: Battle for Cybertron, The Great Car Rally, Car Show Blow Up, and The Story of Wheelie, The Wild Boy of Quintesson
In addition to his work for Marvel, Norem painted illustrations and covers for the Worlds of Power Wizards & Warriors book series, Mars Attacks comics and trading cards, and Charlton Comics’ The Six Million Dollar Man. The U.S. release of the Wizards & Warriors series illustrated by Norem included covers in color.
Although officially retired Earl Norem continued to paint for his own amusement and for his grandchildren.
His biography and CV, though don’t tell you anything about the amazing power that his paintings had. That was, of course, the same power that all pulp cover artists had, and that was the unerring ability to make an impressionable teen part with his money and buy that comic magazine. His images held sway over me. I bought magazines that I was hardly interested in just because it was wrapped in a beautiful Earl Norem painting.
Rest in peace, Mister Norem.