Sci-fi cover art originals

Dust Jacket for the personal copy of the e-book.


I used the back cover art from the original painting for "Images of Tomorrow" cover.

  Now, to me this is an alien world, with the heavily clouded sky.  To the lower middle left, just under the Orange treetops I see what might be the suggestion of water.  But, of course, this is probably an illusion.  But there, lifting out from behind the trees is the tip of the star ship which took the characters in the book to their new world. I literally did some reworking of the colors with Photoshop 5, then added the tip of the space ship from the front of the cover, making it wider, thicker, as I did with the image in "screen panel" and colored some of the details there.

Images of Tomorrow:

The original painting Dad's first cover for a sci-fi magazine:
 Science Stories.


This is the original art/cover for the book Powell Sci-Fi released in 1969.  The deal with the publisher was that he'd get the original novel if Dad could do the cover art - a bit of business which worked out neat for everybody concerned.  It also put me in a super place to have some control over the packaging of this and other books I sold to them.  


The art of creating magazine & pocket book covers can be quite involved.  It isn't enough to just whip up a cover idea and submit it in totality.  That takes up a lot of time, and if very iffy.  Too many changes.  With a manuscript you simply retype a page here and there, or even the whole manuscript - or have it retyped by your typist (in those years - today? Wordprocessing fills in for all that).  With art it is necessary to redesign, sometimes not only make changes but actually re-paint it from top to bottom.  So ... You are very careful as to how to go about submitting art to a publisher.

Sometimes I would actually come up with ideas for covers - in fact much of his early sci-fi work was a kind of collaboration.  I was the fan, dad an artist with very little interest in sci-fi, nor cover art, for that matter.  He was into other areas of commercial art (working for the motion picture industry).  But he decided to do covers to please his son - and in the long run managed to make a few bucks here and there over the years, and in his retirement a nice little side income.

In any case, these three paintings were totally his designs - I had little or nothing to do with them.  I think they are great, and very illustrative of this original thinking.

The first picture is something which Dad did that was totally original.  I have always liked it.  I found this, with the following two pictures in a box of  photos, taken many years ago.  I was sorting, like most of us do, and discovered several of Dad's cover paintings.  I believe that this one was published in Europe.

Generally the publisher would rather give out assignments.  But this, of course, goes to the local known artist - and many times is a result of the "buddy system" - meaning, the editor picks somebody he favors for some reason or other (perhaps his wife's brother?).  Getting into the market, alone, can be a problem.

So what you do, generally, is whip up a sketch.

I have this sketch  for this one hanging in my office - this very room.  The finished painting above is the result, I believe, of an editor giving the go ahead, then at the last moment finding it didn't work right for him - too dark.

The next painting, which was another totally original idea of dads, If I remember right, was basically a "sketch" which was sold to Fantasy & Science Fiction by in the 1950's.  Then, also, sold to at least one other  market, either in Europe or Mexico.  I always liked it.
The final picture is a rough sketch which was used to sell a cover to Amazing Stories, during this same period of time.

Dad did a series of covers for Zif Davis Publications - they published Amazing Stories and Fantastic Stories, two very popular digest size magazines.

Forrest J Ackerman, who was serving as dad's agent (after I'd sold his first cover to Ray Palmer's Science Stories), managed to open this market for "us" - cause the first covers I literally designed, which was really a thrill for me.

Well, "we" worked this way: I'd submit stuff to Forry and he'd market it to the publishers.  In the case of Amazing & Fantastic, he managed to get them interested in Dad's work, even though we were on the West Coast and they were located on the East Coast - a dividing line of so many miles that it was impossible to simply walk into their editorial offices, and talk covers with them. So everything had to be done by mail.

But it worked!

They literally offered assignments, some which were shared with the author who was told to write a story around dad's cover.  This took place two times with Robert Bloch, who wrote the original story upon which Hitchcock's "Psycho" was based.

The third cover here was sold to Amazing Stories using this very picture/sketch.  Once they gave the go-ahead the final art was painted, submitted and accepted for publication.

Generally that was the way business had to be done at that time in the early 1950's.

Much later, when I got into the business of writing, then actually selling books to local publishers I was able to introduce dad's work to them and they were more than eager to buy up his talents.  Worked nicely, because they could not only get the novel, but the cover art from the same "people"!