James Bama was to Doc Savage as was Frank Frazetta to Conan. I, like so many others, came to the Doc Savage through the paperback covers illustrated by Bama. The same way Frazetta's Conan covers drew me to Robert E. Howard's barbarian hero. Though that "skull-cap" hairstyle Bama gave Doc in his paintings had me wondering at first what kind of stories they'd be.
I much preferred Doc's look on the original pulp covers by Walter Baumhofer.
The one thing that I always regretted not seeing by either artist was the Man of Bronze in mortal combat against a gorilla ala' Tarzan. But since no such scene occurred in the original pulp stories there was no reason to have seen such a scene illustrated.
And speaking of Tarzan, just about any (but not all) the actors who portrayed Edgar Rice Burroughs' Lord of the Jungle could have done double-duty portraying Doc Savage. I've long imagined Buster Crabbe playing Doc in a 1930s serial.
|Graphics by Vance Capley|
In the alternate universe that runs through my mind Crabbe was hired by Street & Smith to pose for publicity pics as the Man of Bronze soon after he won his Olympic gold medal in 1932.
Herman Brix, Lex Barker, and Jock Mahoney all might have been good as Doc Savage.
Heck! Ron Ely did play both pulp heroes.
Can you imagine a cover for Phillip Jose Farmer's novel A Feast Unknown with an artist illustrating both Lord Grandrith and Doc Caliban to resemble Ron Ely.
Knowing how much I always wanted to see the Man of Bronze battling a gorilla my buddy Vance Capley created this bosso-keeno faux Doc Savage comic book cover. Enjoy.