Thursday, February 11, 2010

BAMA Interview (1969) - Part 2

As we continue from yesterday, I have another admission. I had no idea James Bama had painted the cover for the first Star Trek book - a cover I have long admired. Sheesh. I need to look into what else he's done.

Once again, this interview, conducted by Bob Napier & Bob Jaunillo, appeared in their 1969 zine Comickazi. Over to you, Bob, Bob, and Bama . . . . . .

Do you work at home or in a studio?
I worked in a studio for fourteen years, but I have worked at home for the last four.

Who would you say has inspired your work more than anyone else?
Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth.

What do you think about the comics of your youth compared to those of today?
I really have no thoughts on comics except that when I was a kid they seemed more exciting. We had no TV then, and I loved Flash Gordon, Tarzan, Mandrake, the Phantom, Terry and the Pirates and Buck Rogers. I think they were better and more heroic than today’s strips.

A glance at any bookstand reveals quite a plethora of “Bama covers”. You must be kept real busy since you are so well known.
I am too well known. I had an unlisted number in New York and I still got business calls every week. I could have worked 200 hours a day. I get at the least, a fan letter a week. In my chosen field, I was too well known and that’s why I left New York; to live a more normal life and do what I want in art.

In that case you must command a good sum for your work. Can you tell us how much you usually get for a cover painting?
No, I have a personal contract and I can not divulge my prices.

That’s understandable. How about schooling? Did you ever attend art school?
Yes. I studied at the Art Student League in New York for three and half years with Frank J. Reilly after World War II.

How do you get your ideas for your paperback covers?
Either from a client conference, or, as in the case of the Doc Savages, by reading the book.

Do you ever do ghost work?

Wat do you think of the sudden rash of artists who mimic your style?
I think it’s flattering.

The illustrator we think comes closest to your style is Peter Carras (Carras did the KKK cover at left - Ed.). Do you know him?
He’s one of my best friends.

What do you think is the best way for an artist to break into cover illustrating?
Do good realism and watch the trends; then make the rounds.

Any other advice for prospective young artists?
There’s always room for a good realistic artist.

What do you consider to be the greatest example of your work to date?
My own paintings done out here.

Care to tell us your full name?
James E. Bama.

Do you have any closing words to add?
Guess that’s it!

©1969 Jaunillo-Napier

Ed. Note: The cover below, for The Toyman Rides Again, is a non-Bama. Too bad. Had Mr. B known his old
pen-pal Bob was in need of a cavalry cover, he doubtless would have jumped at the chance. Still, Five Star did a fine job. In this one, the eagerly-awaited sequel to Love, Death and the Toyman, Tacoma toy dealer Jack Lorentz is recruited to join a troop of reenactors on their way to the Little Bighorn. Threats have been made on the troop's "Custer", and the notoriety Jack gained from his previous case makes him the best man for the job. Watch out, Jack! There may still be angry Sioux on the loose. The book is due out next month and now available for pre-order.


Richard Prosch said...

Wow. I've loved that Star Trek cover nearly all my life as well. I didn't know it was a Bama. Great memories!

Anonymous said...

In answer to the question about comics, he says "we had no television in those days". I guess there will be a time when that's said of internet, or electronic hand-helds, or video games...

Cap'n Bob said...

Thanks for the plug, Evan. I think your readers might like this novel. I just have this to add: PUHLEEESE BUY IT. PUHLEEESE!

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