Illustrator, artist & teacher
Earl Eugene Mayan was born in 1916 in Richmond Hill, New York. He attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn from 1933 to 1936, where he met future pulp illustrator Edd Cartier, with whom he shared a studio on Manhattan’s upper west side. Mayan soon found work doing illustrations for pulp magazines, such as Action Stories, All-Adventure Action Novels, Clues Detective Stories, Ka-Zar, and Western Fiction. In 1940 he began illustrating the adventures of The Shadow for Street & Smith.
In 1941, Mayan enlisted into the Army, and worked as a camouflage engineer and photographer, first in Panama and Trinidad, and then in France and Germany. Throughout this time, he made drawings in lithograph crayon of the scenes he encountered: children in Trinidad, soldiers playing cards in mess-tents, the ruined Remagen bridge along the Rhine. He carried these drawings rolled up in his pack through Europe, and somehow they survived his four-and-a-half years of service.
After the war, he resumed his career, doing covers for Argosy and Bantam Books, titles which include Shane and For Whom the Bell Tolls. In the 1950’s and ‘60’s, Mayan worked for the Saturday Evening Post, doing covers and many interior illustrations in his imaginative, yet hyper-realistic style.
In the 1960’s and ‘70’s, he worked for Grosset & Dunlap and Random House, which included the books Masters of Art, Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone series, Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum. From 1962 to 1995, he taught fine art and illustration at the Art Students League of New York.
Mayan was also a scholar of Paul Cezanne and Maurice Utrillo. In the 1980’s he wrote a fictional autobiography of Cezanne, in which the French artist functioned as narrator, and another novel about Utrillo, from the perspective of his mother, Suzanne Valadon.
During the 1970’s up until his death, he worked at landscapes, portraits of artists and writers, and still lifes.
The years of work at his easel also found him thinking poetically, and Mayan, by the end, had written thousands of pages of poetry in various modes and moods.
"He really overcame the inevitable sadness that comes with old age," said his daughter Cathy, whose husband owns a fine arts shop in Manhattan named in honor of Mr. Mayan, "because he was such a creative person. He truly loved his work."