The following graphics are illustrative of some of the work Al Nuetzell did for sci-fi magazines, starting in the 1950's.  Originally I was the fan who wanted a cover artist father. Dad worked for the motion picture studies and had no idea what was required to make and market covers, but we discovered together. I submitted the first covers to Ray Palmer who rejected the first ones, but settled for one which was my first professional sale - for dad.  Later Forry Ackerman took over the agenting, through me.  A kind of bow to the young teenage sci-fi fan.  But in reality it all worked out to put me in a position to work my own way into publication as a writer some years later - and this resulted in a lot of work for my father in doing pocket book covers and even magazine illos for some of the so-called "girlie mags"!

The art you see at the right is a simple sketch, not a full fledged cover painting, which has never been sold - perhaps it was never marketed.  I always liked the feel and sweep of the subject matter, and it always kind of sparked my imagination.

On this and the following pages I'll try to reveal something of the method of putting together a cover, marketing it and the final outcome.  I'm not certain exactly how far I'll go in offering up information, such as letters to and from editors, but where it seems of interest I'll offer up the required text - where I can get away with simply the picture, I leave the words out.

Here are some covers he did for the sci-fi magazines in the '50's.

The original cover to the right was the first sale to any magazine: Science Stories - one of Ray Palmer's publications.  We learned a lot during this transaction, things like making one basic concept, center of interest, which didn't get all confused by a lot of distracting "equally focused" other objects. Here we have the crashed ship.  Originally the swirling green mass threatening the men rushing out of the ship, was a "see-through" monster man-like alien creature looming over them and the ship.  Palmer wanted something else, which ended up as the swirling mass that you now see.

He also wanted a bio of dad. Well, this turned out to me my first bit of professional writing, and my first "ghosting" and/or penname: Al Nuetzel.  Click on the following url to read the bio plus some other information concerning this issue of Science Stories



    There's a story that comes with the top three covers.  They were literally co-designed by myself and Dad.  I came up with the concepts and offered them to him.  The first was put together from several bits of "scrap" to "copy" from.  I suggested that he make the "cross hairs" on one the moon craters, making everything focused in sharp at within the circle, and have a rocket blasting off on the right.  The middle picture was a simple item: there was an add with a bullseye like showing in the cover, with a dart rushing to the target.  I suggested making the bulleye the earth and the dart a spaceship.  The third cover I actually drew out in pencil, and it was painted thusly by the artist.  His name "nuetzell" is located just under the byline "by Bob Silverberg" in such a way that the editors, who had a policy of not giving cover credit on the art itself, didn't catch - we snuck it in on 'em!

While many times I was helping dad in his work on these covers, since he was not a sci-fi fan and had little to no knowledge concerning space and, more importantly, what might appeal to readers of these magazines.  But there were many cases, of course, where he did all the work on his own, as these three examples justly point out.

Magazines was where my father's cover art started, and here are a few he did over the years:

This original was a sketch sold as is to the rather literary, quality magazine:
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Then as can be seen it was reprinted in both Mexico and Europe, and Australia.

Then came along some European sales.

In some cases I took slides of his work, and the cover to the right was made from such a 35m slide.

Two very rough sketches which the European HAPNA published as covers:

Then there were the pocket book covers: