Earl Norem was one of many illustrators whose work was featured in various popular “men’s interest” magazines such as Man’s Life, Men, For Men Only, and Action for Men back in the 1950s and 1960s. You may also be acquainted with Norem’s work for Marvel Comics if you were (like me) a fan of comics featuring Conan the Barbarian or He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
‘Carnival Wife’ illustrated by Earl Norem in For Men Only, August, 1970.
Norem’s career as an illustrator and painter spans 50 years—and as glorious as his colorful illustrations of a shirtless, musclebound rescuer of half-naked women Conan the Barbarian are in my eyes, it is his illustrations that accompanied the lurid tales within the pages (and on the covers) of the old-school men’s interest mags, that are a real turn on. I mean, how great is your job when you get to illustrate stories titled “Blonde Sex Machine” or “Surf Pack Assassins?” The answer has to be pretty damn great.
Norem retired due to issues with arthritis in 2005, citing his belief that young art buyers didn’t want “anything to do” with an 81-year-old artist, and would instead paint for his own amusement and for his grandchildren. The artist passed away in June of 2015 at the age of 92 leaving us with a vast body of work filled with multi-generational appeal. What’s not to love about a man who fearlessly illustrated a story about a circus bear that assassinated the Nazi Butchers of Stalag 13 (which appeared in the men’s interest magazine “True Action” in 1976)? Nothing, that’s what. The far-fetched, sexed-up, and flat out balls-out illustrations from Earl Norem’s more adult-oriented body of work follow (slightly NSFW).
Man’s World, ‘Nazi General Who Ran The World’s Biggest Vice Ring,’ 1963.
‘The Blonde Sex Machine,’ Stag Magazine, 1970.
Men, ‘The Sin Pack,’ 1967.
The cover of Action for Men, 1968.
True Action, ‘The Circus Bear that Assassinated the Nazi Butchers of Stalag 13,’ 1976.
For Men Only, November, 1971.
Action Life, 1968.
True Men, September, 1961.
‘Cycle Ravisher’ Man’s World, 1969.
Man’s Life, 1963.
‘Urban Bank Robbery,’ 1960.