Norman Saunders

Norman Blaine Saunders (January 1, 1907 – March 7, 1989) was a prolific 20th-century American commercial artist. He is best known for paintings in pulp magazines, paperbacks, men's adventure magazines, comic books and trading cards. On occasion, Saunders signed his work with his middle name, Blaine.[1]

Norman Saunders
Saunders and wife Ellen posing together to model a 1953 Western fiction cover painting.
Norman Blaine Saunders

January 3, 1907
DiedMarch 7, 1989 (aged 82)
EducationGrand Central School of Art
Known forPainting, illustration
Notable work
Mars Attacks


Early life and career

Saunders was born in Minot, North Dakota, but his earliest memories were from the family's homestead near Bemidji in northern Minnesota where he and his parents lived in a one-room cabin.[1][2] He recalled moving north at age seven, to Roseau County on the Canada–US border, where his father was a game warden and a touring Presbyterian minister. "A tribe of the Chippewa Indians were there and by the time I was 12, was practically a blood brother."[1]

Saunders' career was launched when his contributions to Captain Billy's Whiz Bang resulted in a job with Fawcett Publications, where he was employed from 1928 to 1934. He explained in 1983 the events that led to his arrival at Fawcett's offices in Robbinsdale, Minnesota:

I was hitchhiking, got into this Model-T Ford with a big trunk strapped up and these two guys in front. One of them had a gun, a rifle. He said, "Keep your eye peeled on the back, kid, see if there are any police or motorcycle cops or something." What the hell was this? These two guys had robbed somebody, or tried to, out in North Dakota, and they had stolen this car from some farmer and were trying to get away. As we got to the outskirts of Bemidji, I was getting awful nervous. There at the town they saw a sand pit with a big hole dug out of it, and they took this car over and got out and pushed it in. They went that way, and I went this way. That night I caught a freight train to Minneapolis. I took a streetcar ride to the end of the line, and there was a two-story bank there and a big sign: "Robbinsdale, the home of Fawcett Publications." I said, "By gosh and by gracious, we got us a real true publisher here!" There was where they were printing Captain Billy's Whiz Bang.[3]

Pulp paintings

Norman Saunders - cover of Marvel Science Stories for April-May 1939
Norman Saunders' cover for Marvel Science Stories April–May 1939.

He left Fawcett to become a freelance pulp artist, moved to New York City and studied under Harvey Dunn at the Grand Central School of Art. He painted for all the major publishers and was known for his fast-action scenes, his beautiful women and his ability to meet a deadline. He worked in almost any genre—Westerns, weird menace, detective, sports and the saucy pulps (sometimes signed as "Blaine"). He was able to paint very quickly, producing 100 paintings a year—two a week from 1935 through 1942—and thus lived well during the Depression era.[1]

During World War II, Saunders served with the Military Police overseeing German prisoners. Transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers, he supervised the construction of a gas pipeline following the Burma Road. During his off hours, he painted watercolors of Burmese temples.[1]

Trading cards

In 1958, Saunders obtained his first assignment from the trading cards company Topps, painting over photographs of baseball players who had been traded, so that they would appear to be wearing the jersey of their new team. Topps soon employed Saunders to create artwork for many other cards, including the 1962 Mars Attacks series and the Batman TV series in 1966.[4]

Product developer Len Brown, inspired by Wally Wood's cover for EC Comics' Weird Science #16, pitched the idea to art director Woody Gelman. Wood fleshed out his and Gelman's initial sketches, and Bob Powell did the final designs. Saunders painted the 55-card set.[5]

The cards were test marketed by Topps through a dummy corporation called Bubbles, Inc. under the name Attack From Space. Sales were sufficient to expand the marketing, and the name was changed to Mars Attacks. The cards sparked parental and community outrage over their graphic violence and implied sexuality. Topps responded initially by repainting 13 of the cards to reduce the gore and sexuality; then, following inquiries from a Connecticut district attorney, Topps agreed to halt production.[6]

Saunders also produced a number of less well known trading-card series, including Ugly Stickers, Nutty Initials, Make Your Own Name Stickers and Civil War News.[1]

Personal life

Saunders married Ellene Politis in 1947. Their daughter, Zina Saunders, is also an illustrator for magazines, books and trading cards. Their son, David Saunders, is a painter-sculptor who designed the "Apple Fence" at New York's Laguardia Airport.[7]


  • Graphic Design Time Line: A Century Of Design Milestones. Heller, Steven; Pettit, Elinor, Allworth Publications, New York, NY, 2000.
  • Norman Saunders. Saunders, David, The Illustrated Press, Saint Louis, MO, 2008.
  • Pulp Art: Original Cover Paintings For The Great American Pulp Magazines. Lesser, Robert; Reed, Roger, Gramercy Books, New York, NY, 1997.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Norman Blaine Saunders by David Saunders". David Saunders. January 2002.
  2. ^ "Norman Blaine Saunders: Biographic Chronology". Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  3. ^ Ruehlmann, William. "The Loaded Brush of Norman Saunders", Suburbia Today, Gannet Westchester Rockland Newspapers, May 29, 1983, pp. 10-11, via archive
  4. ^ 17 collectible sets based on classic tv shows on
  5. ^ Stewart, Bhob and Len Brown. "The Bubble Gum Years", Against the Grain: Mad Artist Wallace Wood (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2003). ISBN 1-893905-23-3 p. 150
  6. ^ Rice, David T. "Mars Attacks: The Original Invasion Begins Again!". Outré (7). pp. 44–9.
  7. ^ Barbara B. Buchholz, "Vital Images: David Saunders, `Small Wonders' And Ken Warneke" Chicago Tribune (December 13, 1996). Retrieved July 14, 2011

External links

1980 Turks and Caicos Islands general election

General elections were held in the Turks and Caicos Islands on 4 November 1980. The result was a victory for the opposition Progressive National Party (PNP), which won eight of the eleven seats in the Legislative Council. Following the elections, PNP leader Norman Saunders became Chief Minister.

1984 Turks and Caicos Islands general election

General elections were held in the Turks and Caicos Islands on 29 May 1984. The result was a victory for the ruling Progressive National Party (PNP), which won eight of the eleven seats in the Legislative Council, including Kew North Caicos, where Rosita Butterfield became the islands' first female Legislative Council member. Following the elections, PNP leader Norman Saunders remained Chief Minister.

1988 Turks and Caicos Islands general election

General elections were held in the Turks and Caicos Islands on 3 March 1988. They were the first after the suspension of the islands' constitution between 1986 and 1988, which followed Chief Minister Norman Saunders leaving office in March 1985 after being arrested on suspicion of drug smuggling (he was later found guilty and jailed) and the next Chief Minister Nathaniel Francis resigning in July 1986 after a British parliamentary inquiry accused him of corruption.The result was a victory for the opposition People's Democratic Movement (PDM), which won eleven of the thirteen seats in the Legislative Council. Following the elections, PDM leader Oswald Skippings became Chief Minister. Malcolm Daniel, leader of the Progressive National Party (PNP) and Ariel Misick, leader of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) both lost their seats.

Adventure (magazine)

Adventure was an American pulp magazine that was first published in November 1910 by

the Ridgway company, an offshoot of the Butterick Publishing Company. Adventure went on to become one of the most profitable and critically acclaimed of all the American pulp magazines. The magazine had 881 issues. The magazine's first editor was Trumbull White, he was succeeded in 1912 by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman (1876–1966), who would edit the magazine until 1927.

Civil War News

Civil War News was a set of collectible trading cards issued in the early 1960s by Topps. The set featured the colorful artwork of Norman Saunders, as well as three other artists, and was characterized by vivid colors; graphic depictions of violence, death and blood (number 21 "Painful Death" being a prime example) and exaggerations of warfare. On the reverse, each card contained a brief history of a campaign battle or person presented in a newspaper article-like fashion, complete with headline.

The complete set consists of 88 cards, including a checklist, and was first printed for the United States market in 1962 to coincide with the centennial of the American Civil War. A similar series with the same artwork was later issued in Canada and A&BC produced a similar set in England, plus a French-language version for sale in France. A Spanish-language version was issued by Topps in 1968, with predominantly different artwork. The cards were issued five to a wax pack and were accompanied by facsimiles of paper currency of the Confederate States of America. The original selling price was a nickel per package. Topps later issued the cards in cellophane-wrapped strips ("cello packs").

Note: Since 1989 a monthly newspaper titled Civil War News has been published by Historical Publications, Inc. in Tunbridge, Vermont. See website.

David Saunders

David Saunders may refer to:

David Saunders (American football) (born 1976), American football player

David Saunders (American football coach) (born 1958), assistant football coach at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette

David Saunders (ice hockey) (born 1966), Canadian ice hockey player

David Saunders (political strategist), Democratic political strategist and author

David J. Saunders (1811–1873), Virginia businessman and politician

Dave Saunders (volleyball) (born 1960), American former volleyball player

David Saunders, painter and sculptor, son of illustrator Norman Saunders

Dynamic Science Stories

Dynamic Science Stories was an American pulp magazine which published two issues, dated February and April 1939. A companion to Marvel Science Stories, it was edited by Robert O. Erisman and published by Western Fiction Publishing. Among the better known authors who appeared in its pages were L. Sprague de Camp and Manly Wade Wellman.

Emmanuel Misick

Emmanuel Misick is a politician from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He served on a four-member interim Advisory Council from July 1986 to 3 March 1988 after the then-Chief Minister, Norman Saunders, and a member of his cabinet were forced to resign and ministerial government in the territory was suspended. He was a member of the National Democratic Alliance.

Ministerial government resumed after elections were held in early 1988.

Illegal drug trade in the Turks and Caicos Islands

Illegal drug trade in the Turks and Caicos Islands involves trans-shipment of cocaine and marijuana through The Turks and Caicos Islands to the United States.

Mars Attacks

Mars Attacks is a science fiction-themed trading card series released in 1962. The cards feature artwork by science fiction artists Wally Wood and Norman Saunders. The cards form a story arc, which tell of the invasion of Earth by cruel, hideous Martians, under the command of a corrupt Martian government who conceal the fact from the Martian populace that Mars is doomed to explode (due to internal pressure in the planet's core) and therefore proposes a colonization of Earth to turn it into their new homeworld. The cards depict futuristic battle scenes and bizarre methods of Martian attack, torture and slaughter of humans, as well as various Earth nations being attacked and the Martians turning several Earth insects and arachnids into giants by unknown means and controlling the minds of the monstrous arthropods so that they will assist them in their plan for conquest. The story concludes with an expeditionary force of humans volunteering to embark on a counterattack on Mars, in which the Earth force attacks the Martians in their manner (bayoneting and bullets). This necessitates the Martian that are still on Mars to defend their homeworld. The Earth attack forces, after destroying the Martian cities and killing the Martians, depart just before Mars is destroyed in the predicted cataclysm, thus ensuring the peace and safety of Earth as the Martian race is seemingly doomed to extinction (but see "Adaptations and merchandising" below).

The cards proved popular with children, but depictions of explicit gore and implied sexual content caused an outcry among concerned parents and schoolteachers, leading the company to halt production. The cards have since become collectors' items, with certain cards commanding over $3,500 at auction.In the 1980s Topps began developing merchandise based on the Mars Attacks storyline, including mini-comic books and card reprints. An expanded set of 100 cards called Mars Attacks Archives was issued in 1994 by Topps and spawned a second round of merchandising. Director Tim Burton released a film called Mars Attacks! in 1996 based on the series, spawning a third round of merchandising. In 2012, Topps released a 50th anniversary expanded set of 75 cards called Mars Attacks Heritage, leading to a fourth round of merchandising that continued into 2017 with the release of a sequel series, Mars Attacks: The Revenge!

Men's adventure

Men's adventure is a genre of magazine that was published in the United States from the 1940s until the early 1970s. Catering to a male audience, these magazines featured pin-up girls and lurid tales of adventure that typically featured wartime feats of daring, exotic travel or conflict with wild animals. These magazines were also colloquially called "armpit slicks", "men's sweat magazines" or "the sweats", especially by people in the magazine publishing or distribution trades.

Nathaniel Francis

Nathaniel J.S. Francis (1912–2004) was a politician from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He served as the island territory's acting Chief Minister from 28 March 1985 until 25 July 1986, when he was forced to resign after charges of corruption and patronage were leveled against him.Prior to becoming Chief Minister, Francis was deputy minister of public works.

Francis died in 2004 and the new Parliament Buildings of the Turks and Caicos was renamed NJS Francis Building in 2005.

Norman Saunders (politician)

Norman B. Saunders (born 1943) is a former politician from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He served as the island territory's Chief Minister until March 1985, when he was arrested in Miami. In July 1985 he was sentenced to eight years in prison on conspiracy charges related to drug smuggling.

Oswald Skippings

Oswald O'Neil Skippings (born 1953) is a politician from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He served as the island territory's Chief Minister from 19 June 1980 to November 1980 and again from 3 March 1988 to April 1991.

Skippings became the youngest member of a Caribbean government ever when he was first elected to the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) legislature in 1976 at the age of 22. He later became the youngest leader of a Caribbean government ever when he became Chief Minister in 1980 at the age of 26. Skippings was Chief Minister of the TCI between June and November 1980 and again between March 1988 and April 1991. In July 2012 he was re-elected leader of the People's Democratic Movement (Turks and Caicos Islands)

Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands

The Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands is the political leader and head of government. The post of Premier is the equivalent to Chief Minister or Prime Minister in other British Overseas Territories. It is the highest political level that can be attained within the British colonial system. Prior to 2006, the position was known as the Chief Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The Premier and Cabinet (consisting of all the most senior ministers) are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to Queen Elizabeth II, to the House of Assembly, to their political party and ultimately to the electorate.

The current Premier is Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, since 20 December 2016.


Saunders is a surname of English and Scottish patronymic origin derived from Sander, a mediaeval form of Alexander.

True Confessions (magazine)

True Confessions is a confession magazine targeted at young women readers. It was originally published by Fawcett Publications, beginning in 1922.

Uncanny Stories (magazine)

Uncanny Stories was a pulp magazine which published a single issue, dated April 1941. It was published by Abraham and Martin Goodman, who were better known for "weird-menace" pulp magazines that included much more sex in the fiction than was usual in science fiction of that era. The Goodmans published Marvel Science Stories from 1938 to 1941, and Uncanny Stories appeared just as Marvel Science Stories ceased publication, perhaps in order to use up the material in inventory acquired by Marvel Science Stories. The fiction was poor quality; the lead story, Ray Cummings' "Coming of the Giant Germs", has been described as "one of his most appalling stories".

War comics

War comics is a genre of comic books that gained popularity in English-speaking countries following World War II.

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