Category Archives: Science Fiction cover art

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The 50s/60s Surrealistic Stylings of Art Sussman

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(Cover for the 1960 edition of Out of Silent Planet (1938), C. S. Lewis)

Art Sussman produced a remarkable corpus of SF and other pulp covers (mysteries, crime, etc). He could easily shift gears between Richard Powers-esque surrealism—although distinctly his own take—to covers that suited an Agatha Christie mystery (browse the range here). I would be wary comparing him to Powers until you skim through the latter’s late 50s early 60s art (definitely an enjoyable activity!). Although Powers is still far superior, both were part of the SF art movement increasingly experimented with surreal/metaphoric and experimental art (there are still spaceships lurking around the edges, and futuristic cities, and other pulpy moments).

There is a precision of vision with Sussman’s art—his cover for the 1960 edition of Out of Silent Planet (1938), C. S. Lewis places the astronauts in an outline of a vessel with strange hints at alien planets and experiences scattered gem-like in the distance. Sussman’s focus on the human form — often surrounded by surreal forms and humanlike membranes — showcases agony and despair. A great example (and my favorite of the bunch) pairs jagged black fields with a bloodied man, the 1960 Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The 50s/60s Surrealistic Stylings of Art Sussman

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Lacroix’s Delicate Lines and Mutations (60s/70s covers for the French SF Magazine Fiction)

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(Cover for Fiction, #228 (1972), ed. Alain Dorémieux)

In the 60s and 70s the covers for Fiction—“the leading journal of science fiction and fantasy in France” until its cancellation in 2015—were characterized by simple color schemes punctuating by often delicate line work. Working within these strictures (I suspect to cut back on printing costs), a handful of artists pop out from the herd: Jean-Claude Forest, Philippe Curval, Wojtek Siudmak, Philippe Caza….

….and the mysterious Lacroix about which I can find little online. If anyone knows more about him, or if it’s a pseudonym for another artist, let me know!

I’ve included slightly more than half of Lacroix’s total SF art credits and two of them in particular resonate with me: Fiction, #228 (1972) (above) and Fiction, #197 (1970) (below). In the former the eyes staring out of the robotic body exudes horror and existential terror. And the mechanical body descends into some more sprawling contraption, losing its human form Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Lacroix’s Delicate Lines and Mutations (60s/70s covers for the French SF Magazine Fiction)

Adventures in SF Cover Art: Collage and Mechanism: Anita Siegel’s Art for Doubleday Science Fiction

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(Cover for the 1975 edition of The Hellhound (1975), Ron Goulart)

Over the past year or so I’ve explored the artists behind Doubleday Science Fiction—from the early art of The Brothers Quay, who later became well-known directors of experimental short film, to an interview with artist Emanuel Schongut. I’ve included the links to other posts in the loose series below.

Anita Siegel (1939-2011) was a Brooklyn based artist best known for her “sardonic collages seamlessly combining pictures into biting satires” (from her obituary). Her work also featured in the New York Times Op-Ed page (especially during Continue reading Adventures in SF Cover Art: Collage and Mechanism: Anita Siegel’s Art for Doubleday Science Fiction

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The SF art of Mati Klarwein–the artist behind Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew (1970)

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(Mati Klarwein’s 1970 cover for Miles Davis’ album Bitches Brew)

Mati Klarwein (wikipedia link) was a German artist of Jewish origin who fled the Nazis to British Palestine. After the fall of the Nazis, he received an art education in Paris and gained French citizenship. Famous for his album covers—notably Miles Davis’ famous Bitches Brew (1970) (above) and Santana’s Abraxas (1969) (below)—Klarwein also created (or his art was used for) SF covers. Characterized by an obsessive eye for the detail (click and zoom in on Lafferty’s Arrive at Easterwine scan I included from my collection), Klarwein’s almost mandalic covers draw on a wide range of artistic influences. Unfortunately, quite a few are uncredited or credited to the incorrect artist—his cover for the 1972 edition of The World’s Desire (1890) by H. Rider Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The SF art of Mati Klarwein–the artist behind Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew (1970)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Humanoid Plants and Dendroid Humans

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(Bruce Pennington’s cover for the 1968 edition of A Scent of New-Mown Hay (1958), John Blackburn)

2016 saw a resurgence in my cover art adventure posts. However, unlike the curated themed collections that prevailed a few years ago I focussed predominately on individual artists from a variety of countries (Portugal, Italy, Germany): my favorites include Max Ernst and His Landscapes of Decay on SF/F Covers, Haunting Landscapes and Cityscapes of Mariella Anderlini, and The Futuristic Cities of Lima De Freitas.   The last themed collection was way back in March 2015 — Tentacles and Other Strange Appendages.

I’ve decided to return to my roots (no pun intended)! Although partially inspired by my 2014 post Human Transformations/Transfigurations (one duplicate cover), I’d been thinking about providing a gallery on the theme after reading “Ganthi” (1958), a disturbing Miriam Allen deFord short story about sentient tree-aliens and their mysterious caretaker Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Humanoid Plants and Dendroid Humans

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Artists Behind the 1st ed. Cover of John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up (1972)

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(Irving Freeman and Mark Rubin’s cover for the 1st ed. of The Sheep Look Up (1972), John Brunner)

John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up (1972) would easily make my top fifteen SF novels of the 1970s—it’s far better than anything else he produced in the decade, although some might argue that The Shockwave Rider (1975) comes close.  Other than the novel’s unforgettable power, the first edition cover by Irving Freeman and Mark Rubio for Harper & Row remains seared in my memory.  The  1973 Ballantine first edition paperback also used the same art.

The harrowing nature of the story, decaying bodies/pollution, matches perfectly the ram-horned figures on human torsos, gas masks upturned… The distance to the horizon line, rendered via black horizontal lines, results in Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Artists Behind the 1st ed. Cover of John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up (1972)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of SF Inspired Album Covers

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(Jean-Auguste Ringard’s cover for the 1979 album Trip in the Center of Head by Space Art)

Due to a continuous and growing state of panic as election day (November 8th) approaches in the US, I have postponed completing my review of M. John Harrison’s The Pastel City (1971) (the first volume of the Viriconium sequence) in order to do something fun and lighthearted. Harrison’s entropic visions of decay and despair are not sitting well as the xenophobic orange monster looms spewing sexism and unbridled hate…. My The Pastel City review will appear after the election.

Instead, I want all my wonderful readers to pick their favorite SF-esque album cover from any era and Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of SF Inspired Album Covers