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James Bama: American Realist

Depicting a rough and tough man’s world of adventure, James Bama paints with a skill equaling the best of America’s great illustrators.

It would be easy to confuse the work of James Bama for that of another famous illustrator Norman Rockwell, such is the photo-realistic nature of the painting. The only real giveaway is the subject matter, and where Rockwell’s clean-cut view of the all-American family graced the covers of The Saturday Evening Post, Bama’s brush paints a rougher, tougher America of high-adventure for the down and dirty paperback.

Best known as the cover artist for the popular Doc Savage series, his exciting portfolio explodes with scenes of ocean battles,  WWII heroism, sports stars, science-fiction and classic horror – all the convincing a young man might need to pick up a book or magazine from the news stand.

James Bama: American Realist by Brian M. Kane is an informative look at his career and artistic process, featuring studio photography alongside excellent reproductions of original paintings and vintage paperback covers. Unashamedly masculine in tone, Bama’s work is nonetheless an impressive feat in illustration, adding life to scenes far beyond that of his photographic reference, inspiring the imaginations of its audience and subsequent film-makers, including as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg for their Indiana Jones movies.

American Realist is well-produced book covering an exciting period in cover design and magazine illustration, packed full of stunning work and an interesting biography by Brian M. Kane, making this an easy recommendation for any fan of vintage illustration.

James Bama: American Realist by Brian M. Kane
Flesk Publications
Hardback 159 pages