Thursday 29 September 2016

In memoriam - Bob Weinberg (1946-2016), pulp and art collector extraordinaire

Recently, I got the sad news that Robert (Bob) Weinberg, pulp and art collector extraordinaire a passed away. I didn't know Bob very well, I spoke to him only a few times, but he shared his knowledge and passion for pulp magazines and art with me in many ways.

Robert (Bob) Weinberg - portrait by Jon Arfstrorm, Weird Tales illustrator (courtesy David Saunders)
Robert (Bob) Weinberg - portrait by Jon Arfstrorm, Weird Tales illustrator (courtesy David Saunders)
It all began with my picking up an issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries on EBay. It was part of a lot i purchased; i would not have picked it up on its own merit. If i remember right, it was this issue:
Famous Fantastic Mysteries magazine, October 1946

To be honest, the cover art rather put me off reading the pulp, and I put it aside to get at the others in the lot. About a week later, I picked it up and started flipping through the pages. I was struck by the amazing interior artwork - this issue has illustrations by both Virgil Finlay and Lawrence Stevens. It was the first time i ever flipped through a magazine looking for more art and ignoring the stories entirely. When i was done, i knew i wanted to see more of their work and read about how they did this. So i googled them - and i came across some articles by Bob on collecting pulp artwork, including many by Finlay and Stevens - they're listed here:

Collecting Fantasy Art #1: Starting at Zero
Collecting Fantasy Art #2: Aces and Earls
Collecting Fantasy Art #3: Meet Marty G.
Collecting Fantasy Art #4: Art Mania!
Collecting Fantasy Art #5: Lail, It Rhymes with Gail
Collecting Fantasy Art #6: An Art Potpourri
Collecting Fantasy Art #7: Susan and Betsy
Collecting Fantasy Art #8: Sam and the Scientologists
Collecting Fantasy Art #9: Darrell and Sam, Two Famous Collectors
Collecting Fantasy Art #10: A Party and Some Sales
Collecting Fantasy Art #11: Secrets of New Jersey -- Part 1, Two Visits
Collecting Fantasy Art #13: Two Great Artists

Bob's anecdotes of buying art without any real competition amazed me, as was the wide variety of pulp art that he collected. I discovered a lot of titles and artists through him that i wouldn't have considered collecting otherwise.

The first time i spoke with Bob was at the Windy City pulp convention in 2015. It was my second year at the convention, and i had just walked into the hospitality suite, and was looking around to see if there was anyone who remembered me. I ran into someone and he and i started chatting about recent acquisitions, which led to his talking about the pulp art in those issues, and i said that the best i had ever seen was in Famous Fantastic Mysteries. At this point, Bob joined the conversation and agreed with me. We talked a bit about the art in other pulps - I mentioned that Blue Book was a title that i liked - but Bob remained firm in placing Famous Fantastic Mysteries above it. At the time, i didn't know who he was. The conversation moved on to other topics and i left the group to meet other friends.

The next day, i visited the art display, always a highlight of Windy City. It was the first time i saw a Finlay illustration up close, and i was even more impressed than i had been the first time i saw his art. A day later, i was attending the panel discussion and i saw Bob walk on stage and get introduced as Robert Weinberg. I couldn't believe who I'd been talking to  - a person who had been collecting pulp art since a long time, and who i regarded as a guide. I also saw the pulp art on display at the convention, a lot of which was from his collection. 

The last time we spoke was at the 2016 Windy City. I saw him sitting at his table, and i went up to him and complimented him on the work he'd done on Collector's Book of Virgil Finlay, most of the originals for which came from his and Doug Ellis' collections. I grabbed it when it came out, as it's probably the closest I'm going to get to having an original Finlay in the house. 

R.I.P., Bob. Thank you for the books and generously sharing your art with other fans. You will be missed.

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