Combat Gallery Sunday : The Martial Art of Rafael DeSoto

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sunday, I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday : The Martial Art of Rafael DeSoto

Born Rafael Maria de Soto y Hernandez on February 18, 1904 in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, the young man grew up drawing. In the early 1920s his family sent him to live with an uncle in New York’s Lower East Side and he soon found work in advertising without formal art training.

By 1930, DeSoto, eschewing a seminary appointment, was working for the pulp magazine clearing house of Street & Smith’s which he augmented by churning out pulp novel covers. Over the next two decades he produced works for dozens of pulps to include Ace, All Detective, Black Book Detective, Phantom Detective, The Spider, Ten Detective Aces, Terror Tales, Thrilling Detective, Western Aces, and Western Trails.

Rafael DeSoto

Rafael DeSoto

Whats better than a hardhat diver and a box of gold coins? A hardhat diver with a box of gold coins and a .38-- that's what

Whats better than a hardhat diver and a box of gold coins? A hardhat diver with a box of gold coins and a .38– that’s what

GI Joe Cover by Rafael DeSoto

GI Joe Cover by Rafael DeSoto

Is that a 1911 in your hand or are you just happy to see me?

Is that a 1911 in your hand or are you just happy to see me?

Black Mask, September 1944; cover art by Rafael DeSoto

Black Mask, September 1944; cover art by Rafael DeSoto

Settling in Queens, the artist was found 4F in World War II, which left him out of uniform but he nonetheless rose to the occasion and often produced very detailed military art.

Rafael DeSoto

Rafael DeSoto

True Adventures cover, Dec 1963 by Rafael DeSoto

True Adventures cover, Dec 1963 by Rafael DeSoto

Rafael DeSoto

Rafael DeSoto

Rafael DeSoto

Rafael DeSoto

Rafael DeSoto

Rafael DeSoto

Rafael DeSoto

Rafael DeSoto

Rafael DeSoto

Rafael DeSoto

This is my favorite work of his. The Garand is great

This is my favorite work of his. The Garand is great

Battle Cry cover by Rafael DeSoto. Click to very much big up

Battle Cry cover by Rafael DeSoto. Click to very much big up

Those cheeky guerrillas...great detail on the MP by the way

Those cheeky guerrillas…great detail on the MP by the way

Making a dive for that Browning!

Making a dive for that Browning!

Go ahead and find a more determined Navy gunner than this one...

Go ahead and find a more determined Navy gunner than this one…

By the 50s he was producing mainly book covers for Bantam, Dell, Lion, Signet, and Pocket Books and retired at age 60 to teach at State University of New York (SUNY), Farmingdale for a decade.

Book cover by Rafael DeSoto

Book cover by Rafael DeSoto

He died on Christmas Eve 1992 on Long Island at age 88.

His works will be signed invariably with as Raphael De Soto, Rafael M de Soto, and R de Soto. There is an excellent bio of him at Pulp Artists as well as a number of galleries an official website and his son’s site, who incidentally is an incredible artist in his own right.

Thank you for your work, sir.

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.