Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Composite Cover (illustrating a multiplicity of scenes, stories, thematic elements)
January 27, 2013 § 24 Comments
(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the 1954 edition of Murder in Space (1944), David V. Reed)
Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the 1954 edition of Murder in Space (1944) perfectly embodies the composite cover comprised of sequences from the narrative. Our hero (or villain) plots the murder in the foreground (guns, books, furrowed brow), commits the murder in the background, his love interest looks over his left shoulder (she’s constantly on his mind), and some random astroids/planets (let’s call them space rocks), a spaceship, and a strange piece of technology alert us to the science fiction aspect of the narrative… The uncredited cover for the 1955 edition of The Altered Ego (1954) is another wonderful example of this — although, slightly more difficult to decode without reading the work.
Bill Hughes’ cover for the 1969 edition of the short story collection Two Dozen Dragon Eggs (1969) is a different sort of composite cover — the large egg is broken down into twelve parts. Weither or not any of the stories link up with the pictures in any meaningful way is another story. Likewise, the composite nature of the always brilliant Richard Powers’ cover for 1966 edition of Ballard’s collection The Impossible Man (1966) may or may not relate to the contents but do indicate an impression of parts due to the variety of stories within. Regardless, the composite nature of the collection is transmitted to the cover – Tito Salomoni’s cover for the the 1986 edition of Artificial Things (1986) and David Meltzer’s cover for the 1971 edition of The Inner Lanscape (1969) are similar.
The type of third composite cover are more thematic or surrealist in nature. For example, Alex Schomburg’s cover for the September 1954 of Fantastic Universe — illustrating Lester del Rey’s Life Watch (1954) — includes the necessary rocket ships and planets to indicate the future setting, an atom to indicate science, and a heart, indicating, quite obviously LIFE! Others are more surreal — the fantastic, and unfortunately uncredited, cover for the 1968 edition of A. E. Van Vogt’s Slan (1946) is a sequence of photos that may or may not relate in anyway to the narrative.
What are your favorites?
(Alex Schomburg’s cover for the September 1954 issue of Fantastic Universe)
(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition of Slan (1946), A. E. Van Vogt)
(Jim Steranko’s cover for the 1970 edition of Infinity One (1970), ed. Robert Hoskins)
(Tito Salomoni’s cover for the the 1986 edition of Artificial Things (1986), Karen Joy Fowler)
(Uncredited cover for the 1966 edition of B. E. A. S. T. (1966), Charles Eric Maine)
(Michael Gilbert’s cover for the 1973 edition of Breaking Point (1972), James Gunn)
(Gray Morrow’s cover for the October 1969 issue of Galaxy)
(David Meltzer’s cover for the 1971 edition of The Inner Lanscape (1969), ed. Michael Moorcock)
(Uncredited cover for the 1955 edition of The Altered Ego (1954), Jerry Sohl)
(Bill Hughes’ cover for the 1969 edition of Two Dozen Dragon Eggs (1969), Donald A. Wollheim)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1966 edition of The Impossible Man (1966), J. G. Ballard)
(Brian Lewis’ cover for the October 1958 issue of New Worlds Science Fiction)
(Uncredited cover for the 1970 edition of Naked to the Stars (1961), Gordon R. Dickson)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1955 edition of Another Kind (1955), Chad Oliver)
(Uncredited cover for the 1971 edition of New Writings in SF-18 (1971), ed. John Carnell)
(Gray Morrow’s cover for the 1967 edition of The Key To Irunium (1967), Kenneth Bulmner)
(Uncredited cover for the 1981 edition of Last View Of Eden (1981?), Ralph Hayes)
For similar art posts consult the INDEX