Earle K. Bergey Cover Reproduction

Exciting Sports Comparison

You all know that I like to make pulp copies as part of my on-going learning process. My goal as a pulp painter is to become familiar with the original pulp covers and understand them well-enough in terms of color, composition, themes, etc.. to be able to create my own book covers and fine art paintings which accurately reproduce the look and feel of that era.

I believe in creating the whole “package” for my books. I want to create an experience for readers which is immersive. And so far so good. But there’s no time to rest on my laurels, this is an active learning process that I don’t think I’ll ever complete, which is just fine with me!

Earle K. Bergey WWII Pulp Sports covers

A few of Bergey's wartime spots coversDuring the war years someone had the bright idea of producing a series specialized pulp sports covers which I think of as the “All-American Boy Goes to War.” I’ve also heard of them referred to as the “War Covers” and the “Apparition Covers.” These interesting and unique pieces of art were spread across several magazines owned by the same publishing house. I am aware of ten of these covers, although there may have been more. They’re seen on the covers of: “Exciting Sports,” “Popular Sports,” “Thrilling Sports,” and “Thrilling Football” pulp magazines. I was fortunate enough to pick up one of them up at last year’s PulpFest– “Thrilling Football,” Fall, 1945 number.

My own copy of "Thrilling Football," Fall 1945 number.
My own copy of “Thrilling Football,” Fall 1945 number.

I was eager to try my hand at copying one of these specialty covers to see how the subject was handled. I worked larger than I normally do with my copies, this one is 15” x 20” on watercolor board. I chose acrylics for the bright colors, touching up the final painting with a dash of watercolor to balance out the soldiers in the background.

exciting_sports_1944falMy copy has a few differences from the original, one of which was intentional and the other, unconscious. I’ll address the conscious choice first.

Earle K. Bergey (1901 – 1952) copy. The original artwork was seen on the Fall 1944 cover of “Exciting Sports.” This issue is part of a series of special covers seen on several different sports magazines owned by the same publishing house featuring war themes. My copy is 20″ x 15″ in acrylics and watercolors on watercolor board. Copyright Sara Light, 2022. All Rights Reserved.
Earle K. Bergey (1901 – 1952) copy. The original artwork was seen on the Fall 1944 cover of “Exciting Sports.” 20″ x 15″ acrylics and watercolors on watercolor board. Copyright Sara Light-Waller, 2022. All Rights Reserved.

It’s my thought that in the original, the ball player is thinking about going to war and is excited to become part of the U.S. fighting force, in this case the army. (Different covers featured different branches of the military.) In my version, he’s thinking about history, the brave men who fought for their country in WWII, nearly 80 years ago. So I made the soldiers nearly bronze in color, highlighting the fact that they were cherished, almost statues.

The other change is that my ball player seems younger than the original. To me, he represents a college ball player instead of the professional ball player on the original cover. This was an unconscious choice but one I like.

Otherwise, I think the copy looks pretty good. It’s one of the few that I will frame and put up in my home. What do you think?

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