James Bama and Jason Bell

Aside from the rather remarkable synchronicity of both initials and letter-counts in their names, American artists James Bama and Jason Bell (AKA Iason Bellerophon) would appear to be polar opposites. Bama, a photorealistic painter…Bell, a visionary abstract painter. And yet both have formidable reputations both in fine art and in popular genre art. Neither is a stranger to prestigious art galleries, but Bama’s art has graced men’s magazines, toy boxes, and the realm of somewhat-lurid paperback covers…while Bell has drawn comics (including his own Cavemanrobot series), has created his own line of toys from his characters, and has his own share of somewhat-lurid works.

Bell is of course the co-creator of Doc Talos, while Bama is the most celebrated of all Doc Savage cover artists. Perhaps it was inevitable that in the course of visually conceptualizing the Talos stories, Bell would find inspiration from Bama.

Throughout the stories, in the form of collage, Bama images find new hyperkinetic life as fragments of paintings that illustrate the Talos books. Some are like tiny hidden treasures…it takes a lot of looking to find them. Others are much clearer, as in the transformation of Bama’s classic “World’s Fair Goblin” artwork into the cover for Vol. 3 of the Talos chronicle, “Towers”.

“World’s Fair Goblin”, by James Bama
Cover art for Doc Talos Vol 3, “Towers”

Bama and Bell…two remarkable creators who prove that fine art and pulp art share a great kinship.

2 thoughts on “James Bama and Jason Bell

  1. I agree, Alexandre. The first Doc Savage novel I acquired was the Bantam edition of “Merchants of Disaster” in the 1960’s, ,and I was literally stunned by the power of the Bama image on the cover. Since then I have been fascinated by artists who can capture the “presence” of a character. Iason’s work is muscular, intense and vivid — there are figures and portraits of his in the Talos books that equal (and even exceed) that jolt of awe I felt so many years ago when I first discovered James Bama.


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