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Saturday Art: Charles Binger – A Pulp Life

I have always loved pulp novels, even as a little girl. The lurid prose thrilled me, while the vivid covers drew me in with their PG-transgressive art work. Some of the finest, most evocative and erotic covers were painted by Charles Binger, a UK-ex pat who began his fifty year long career career creating film posters for Twentieth Century Fox UK. His talent for flattering portraiture drew hundreds clients including many famous actors, businessmen and lovely women of his day.

Binger served Britain in World War II as a member of London Fire Service and the Air Sea Rescue Research. His work drew notice from Sir Winston Churchill, and several of Europe’s crowned heads. Binger was also commissioned to paint portraits of the Bomber Command Eagle Squadron, the first Americans in the European Theatre, for publication as well as commercial art for countless press exchange and advertising agencies.

After the war, Binger and his family moved to New York City, where he worked as an illustrative painter creating editoral and cover art for Colliers Magazine, Fawcett Publications, Signet, Pyramid, Pocket, Gold Medal, Dell, Crest, Cardinal, Bantam and Avon Books. . . .

Binger’s work graces covers of books by Nathaniel West, Aldous Huxley, Ray Bradbury and countless hardboiled detective novels and other racier genres, luring readers to peek between the covers. His paintings also lured movie goers into theaters for films like Titanic, The Song of Bernadette, Run Silent Run Deep, The Egyptian, and The Commancheros. Marilyn Monroe loved his style, and created the classic one-sheets for her films Niagara, Don’t Bother to Knock, and River of No Return.

Binger continued to work until 1970. He died in 1974, and the first exhibition of his work in 45 years opens January 7 at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles. Included are covers for Nathaniel West’s Day of the Locust, Ed McBain’s The Pusher, and Huxley’s Brave New World as well as a portrait of Yul Brenner (one of Binger’s last pieces, executed in 1970) and a dozen other lush and provocative works.

(from the top: Cover of Lament for Four Virgins; cover of Walsingham Woman; cover of Day of the Locusts; cover to Brave New World; portrait of Yul Brenner; unknown war romance, possibly The French Lieutenant’s Woman)

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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.