‘Star Trek,’ ‘Doc Savage,’ Realist Artist James Bama Dies

James Bama, a preferred illustrator who made an vital contribution to “Star Trek: The Original Series” and later gained renown as a Realist painter, died on April 24, 2022, on the age of 95, in accordance with a number of sources, together with Universal Monsters Universe, thedailycartoonist.com, and SteveHollandGuide.com, in addition to a consultant at Big Horn Galleries in Cody, Wyoming, one of many main galleries that represented Bama. He was simply days shy of his 96th birthday.

Bama, in accordance with a 2018 StarTrek.com article written by “Star Trek” historians David Tilotta and Curt McAloney, created a well-known picture — a montage depicting Captain James T. Kirk, Spock, varied crew members, and the usS. Enterprise zipping round an unidentified planet — that “appeared in promotional materials that NBC used to promote (“Star Trek: The Original Series”). Initially, the montage appears to be like like a set of images however, amazingly, it is truly a lifelike portray.” The artwork, in a black-and-white model, appeared in “TV Guide,” and a shade model of it was used for the quilt of Bantan Books’ “Star Trek,” which was subtitled “A Chilling Journey Through Worlds Beyond Imagination.” According to Memory Alpha, the guide, which was additionally known as “Star Trek 1,” collected variations by writer James Blish of seven “Star Trek: The Original Series” episodes.

Tilotta and McAloney reported that quickly after NBC ordered “Star Trek: The Original Series” to collection, the community commissioned Bama to color a bit of promo artwork. “One of NBC’s preliminary ideas was for the artwork to be reproduced as a poster that they may promote to most of the people for $1” apiece, in accordance with Tilotta and McAloney, a mode of marketing campaign NBC had already deployed for “Bonanza,” “Get Smart,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E,” and “I Spy.” NBC in the end elected to not proceed with the poster idea, however reasonably distributed the paintings to “choose advertisers and people.” It was additionally utilized for “NBC’s different promo and advert supplies, together with print advertisements and tv commercials.”

James Bama Made His Mark in Realism & ‘Star Trek’

Early in his profession, from the Nineteen Fifties to Sixties, Bama made a lot of his dwelling portray covers for paperback books, such magazines as “The Saturday Evening Post” and “Reader’s Digest,” and for the field covers of the monster model kits — for such creatures as Dracula and Frankenstein — produced by the corporate, Aurora Plastics Corporation. Bama’s one-off “Star Trek” contribution apart, he was much better recognized throughout his illustrator section for the various covers he painted for Bantam’s “Doc Savage” collection, with Steve Holland as his model. Holland was additionally an actor and had performed Flash Gordon within the 1954 tv collection of the identical identify. Bama additional made a reputation for himself by creating artwork for males’s pulp journey magazines.

Bama, in an interview with Mark Voger of NJ.com revealed on December 17, 2010, defined that he at all times needed to be an artist. “Since kindergarten, I simply knew,” he stated. “I drew and drew and drew on a regular basis. I’d copy the Sunday funnies like ‘Flash Gordon’ and ‘Tarzan’ and ‘Barney Baxter,’ which is a strip that individuals do not keep in mind anymore. (“Flash Gordon” artist) Alex Raymond was my largest affect. I studied below Frank Reilly, who was a disciple of Dean Cornwall. I received right into a studio in New York after I was 24. Right out of college, I did some guide covers, even some pulp (fiction) covers. But the pulps had been dying on the time, round 1949 and ’50. Business was petering out due to tv and different influences.

“The illustration work was slowing down, so I began doing paperback covers,” Bama continued. “I did 9 Louis L’Amour covers earlier than he turned well-known. They had been simply jobs. I did Zane Grey. So I did Western stuff lengthy earlier than the fine-art work. I began working for Bantam Books within the early ’60s. I did all the pieces for Bantam, from sci-fi to horny women to Westerns. Like I stated, they had been simply jobs.”

Presumably, Bama’s “Star Trek” paintings fell into the “simply jobs” class, but it surely captured the imaginations of numerous “Trek” followers. According to the NJ.com interview, Bama and his spouse, Lynn, moved from New York City to Wyoming in September, 1968. Once in Wyoming, he started to color and etch what he noticed: native folks, rodeos, Native Americans. According to a biography of Bama on The Greenwich Workshop web site, “The distinctive work of James Bama combines custom with trendy realities. In his much-acclaimed research, Bama reveals the modern West preserving its conventional tradition. His portraits of inhabitants of the plains and mountains seize the true character of the West. Today the work of James Bama are a part of many prestigious collections. Bama has been represented in main exhibitions all through the West and has been offered in one-man reveals in New York City.”

An evaluation of Bama’s work on the Buffalo Bill Center of the West web site reads, “The artist’s pure expertise, tutorial coaching, and sensible skilled expertise as an illustrator outfitted him with the instruments to succeed as an easel painter. Influenced by images, summary expressionism, pop artwork, and illustration, Bama fused these media and types into an ultra-detailed model of realism primarily based on complicated compositions. Unlike many artists working within the American West at the moment, he steadfastly refused to color the Old West however as an alternative devoted his profession to portray actual folks of the fashionable West. His detailed portraits seize the ethnic and cultural complexity of the American West by individuals who dwell concurrently in two worlds.”

Bama, in essence, loved two distinctly totally different careers as an artist. He was nicely conscious of the dichotomy between his pop-culture work and his Realist work which led to comparisons with Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth. “I am unable to escape it,” he instructed NJ.com within the 2010 interview. “For all the stunning Western work I’ve performed since 1968, I’m higher recognized for the monster kits and ‘Doc Savage’. I did 62 ‘Doc Savage’ covers. That’s loads of covers. I instructed my spouse, ‘The world will come to an finish, however the monster fashions and “Doc Savage” will nonetheless be round.'”

And so will “Star Trek.”


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