Skip to main content

'Popular Skullture' Celebrates the Macabre


Given the harsh reality that every human eventually concedes to death it's not surprising that man has always been intrigued by the macabre. Every known art form ends up focusing on death. Be it tattoos, comics, literature, paintings, opera, it doesn't matter—death and the end of life will eventually be the subject matter.

Early 20th century comic books and pulp novels seemed particularly interested in death, as well as the possibility of things reaching out from beyond the grave. The cover art of these comics and pulp novels trended toward the fantastic; it had to in order to attract readers. There is no more powerful symbol of death than the skull so naturally it came to dominate the macabre imagery in these publications.

Popular Skullture, a new book being released by Kitchen Sink Books/Dark Horse Comics, celebrates the beautiful weirdness of the era and it's fascination with the skull. During the height of the comic book/pulp novel craze artists would have to think way outside of the box in order to stand out from every other issue on the newsstand, thus triggering a creative explosion throughout the industry. Popular Skullture collects some of the best, oddest, and most thought provoking of the covers into an art book authored by Monte Beauchamp. Beauchamp, an award-winning art director and graphic designer, gives a brief history of the comic/pulp novel industry alongside the 150 covers featured in the book.

Check out some of our favorite covers fromPopular Skullturein the gallery below.