The Cover Artists A – F

Colophon by Dave Kyle

The profession of science fiction book cover artist did not exist in 1948. Only a handful of fantasy or science fiction (f&sf) volumes had ever been issued in hardcovers. The field was a creature of the magazine industry and of pulp magazines in specific, the only digest at the time being Astounding Science Fiction. Pulp magazines aspired to grab potential readers’ eyetracks as they scanned across crowded newsstand shelves – primary colors, grotesque bodies, and lurid scenes competing for attention. They were not welcome in polite society, with fine bookstores and libraries aspiring to present themselves as polite oases, a gentle hush smothering all the noise of popular culture.

No one knew how to design a cover for a hardback volume of f&sf so that it would meet the exacting and restricting standards of 1940s’ librarians yet be sufficiently alluring to attract the all-important buyer in a bookstore. Probably no one had yet fully appreciated the reality that unlike magazines, always presented face out to the buyer, books were typically stored on shelves with only their spines visible to the browser. Publishers traditionally confined spines to text. Good books presumably sold due to the name of the author and, as was fervently hoped, the reputation of the publisher. Titles were mere markers. Number one New York Times bestsellers in 1947 included such spectacularly dull titles as B. F.’s Daughter, Lydia Bailey, Gentleman’s Agreement, and House Divided. A few publishers had experimented with extending the art on the cover to the spine. Charles Scribner’s Sons allowed the range of mountains thinly bannered across the center of Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, to continue onto the spine, the red roof of a house a splash of color that caught the eye just below Hemingway’s name. This superb balance of art and commerce would be difficult to imitate.

From the beginning, Gnome artists would rise to these twin challenges. Dave Kyle, the designer of the early books, would draw or contract for striking but not lurid images on the front panels, frequently combining human portraits with the signifiers of science fiction. Only a few skipped the human for stark futuristic imagery, but when they did the result usually manifested itself in the ultimate token of science fiction: the rocketship in outer space. Edd Cartier made a rocket dominate the cover of Seetee Ship and Kyle followed with a swarm of rockets on Foundation. Ric Binkley was the dependable creator of astronomicals, with the covers of Sands of Mars, The Starmen, and Shambleau and Others as fine examples that included rockets.

Kyle also had a sense of the spine’s usefulness in selling a book. He drew the dust jacket for Gnome’s first title, The Carnelian Cube, featuring an image of the eponymous cube not just on the front panel but also on the spine. The second title, The Porcelain Magician, had Frances E. Dunn’s elaborate oriental-style dragon on the front panel and another dragon occupying two-thirds of the spine. The cover requires a second, closer glance to reveal that the dragon is comfortably carrying a person in its mouth. Edd Cartier designed a colophon for the company of a helmeted gnome riding a book-shaped spaceship that debuted on Journey to Infinity in 1951 and appeared on most spines through 1954, with a single unexplained return in 1956.

The loss of the colophon also presaged a future of duller covers and mostly all-print spines. It can’t be coincidence that Kyle left the company in 1954 and sometime soon after Washington Irving van der Poel, Jr. became the uncredited art director. His credentials were superb, as he had been the art director for Galaxy Science Fiction since its first issue and their covers were seldom less than outstanding. Nevertheless, there is a distinct break between the two eras. It couldn’t help that Greenberg had no money to pay for major artists, and so van der Poel mostly hired newcomers straight out of art school and did the last twelve of thirteen covers himself, the exception being reused from an earlier edition. We don’t even know whether he was getting paid for his work or just volunteering, perhaps in return for getting reprint rights to numerous Gnome titles for the Galaxy Novel paperback series.

Short biographies of all the Gnome cover artists are below, in alphabetical order. I’ve tried to find the earliest photographs, to give a better sense of what they were like back when Marty Greenberg knew them. I recommend David Saunders’ Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists for longer biographies, although some of the people here started too late to be involved in pulps.

Gnome Cover Artists by Publication Order

No.AuthorTitlePub. DateArtist
1L. Sprague de Camp & Fletcher PrattThe Carnelian Cube1948Kyle
2Frank OwenThe Porcelain Magician1948Dunn
3Nelson BondThe Thirty-First of February1949Gibson
4George O. SmithPattern for Conquest1949Cartier
5Robert A. HeinleinSixth Column1949Cartier
6Martin Greenberg (ed)Men Against the Stars1950Cartier
7L. Sprague de Camp & Fletcher PrattThe Castle of Iron1950Bok
8William Gray BeyerMinions of the Moon1950Cartier
9Robert E. HowardConan the Conqueror1950Kyle
10Clifford D. SimakCosmic Engineers1950Cartier
11Isaac AsimovI, Robot1950Cartier
12Martin Greenberg (ed)Journey to Infinity1951Kyle
13Raymond F. JonesRenaissance1951Kyle
14L. Ron HubbardTypewriter in the Sky and Fear1951Kyle
15Will StewartSeetee Ship1951Cartier
16Isaac AsimovFoundation1951Kyle
17Lewis PadgettTomorrow and Tomorrow/The Fairy Chessmen1951Harrison
18Martin Greenberg (ed)Travelers of Space1951Cartier
19Robert E. HowardThe Sword of Conan1952Kyle
20Martin Greenberg (ed)Five Science Fiction Novels1952Freas
21Arthur C. ClarkeSands of Mars1952Binkley
22A. E. van VogtThe Mixed Men1952Kyle
23Lewis PadgettRobots Have No Tails1952Binkley
24Clifford D. SimakCity1952Freas
25Isaac AsimovFoundation and Empire1952Cartier
26Leigh BrackettThe Starmen1952Binkley
27C. L. MooreJudgment Night1952Freas
28Robert E. HowardKing Conan1953Kyle
29Martin Greenberg (ed)The1953Binkley
30Hal ClementIceworld1953Binkley
31Arthur C. ClarkeAgainst the Fall of Night1953Freas
32Wilmar H. ShirasChildren of the Atom1953Freas
33Isaac AsimovSecond Foundation1953Binkley
34Lewis PadgettMutant1953Binkley
35Jeffrey Logan (ed)The Complete Book of Outer Space1953Bonestell
36Robert E. HowardComing of Conan1953Freas
37Nat SchachnerSpace Lawyer1953Binkley
38C. L. MooreShambleau and Others1953Binkley
39Arthur C. ClarkePrelude to Space1954Emsh
40L. Sprague de CampLost Continents1954Tschirsky/Binkley
41William MorrisonMel Oliver and Space Rover on Mars1954Emsh
42Murray LeinsterThe Forgotten Planet1954Emsh/Binkley
43C. L. MooreNorthwest of Earth1954Binkley
44Robert E. HowardConan the Barbarian1954Emsh
45Frederik Pohl & Jack WilliamsonUndersea Quest1954Emsh
46Martin Greenberg (ed)All About the Future1955Emsh
47Groff Conklin (ed)Science Fiction Terror Tales1955Emsh
48Jack Williamson & James GunnStar Bridge1955Hunter
49F. L. WallaceAddress: Centauri1955Emsh
50Andrew NorthSargasso of Space1955Emsh
51H. Chandler ElliottReprieve from Paradise1955Hunter
52James GunnThis Fortress World1955Tinkleman
53Robert Howard & L. Sprague de CampTales of Conan1955Emsh
54Andrew NorthPlague Ship1956Emsh
55Arthur K. BarnesInterplanetary Hunter1956Emsh/Van der Poel, Jr.
56Judith Merril (ed)SF: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy1956Emsh
57George O. SmithHighways in Hiding1956Emsh
58Frederik Pohl & Jack WilliamsonUndersea Fleet1956Emsh
59Martin Greenberg (ed)Coming Attractions1957Van der Poel, Jr.
60James BlishSeedling Stars1957Dillon
61Murray LeinsterColonial Survey1957Wood
62Fritz LeiberTwo Sought Adventure1957Dillon
63Judith Merril (ed)SF: ’57: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy1957Van der Poel, Jr.
64Poul Anderson & Gordon DicksonEarthman’s Burden1957Cartier
65Bjorn Nyberg & L. Sprague de CampThe Return of Conan1957Wood
66Robert RandallThe Shrouded Planet1957Wood
67Mark Clifton & Frank RileyThey’d Rather Be Right1957Van der Poel, Jr.
68Tom GodwinThe Survivors1958Wood
69Robert A. HeinleinMethuselah’s Children1958Dillon
70Frederik Pohl & Jack WilliamsonUndersea City1958Wood
71Judith Merril (ed)SF: ’58: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy1958Van der Poel, Jr.
72Talbot MundyTros of Samothrace1958Dillon/Van der Poel, Jr.
73Robert SilverbergStarman’s Quest1958Mack
75George O. SmithThe Path of Unreason1958Van der Poel, Jr.
74Talbot MundyThe Purple Pirate1959Van der Poel, Jr.
76Judith Merril (ed)SF: ’59: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy1959Van der Poel, Jr.
77Robert RandallThe Dawning Light1959Van der Poel, Jr.
78Wallace WestThe Bird of Time1959Van der Poel, Jr.
79Robert A. HeinleinThe Menace from Earth1959Van der Poel, Jr.
80Robert A. HeinleinThe Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag1959Van der Poel, Jr.
81James A. SchmitzAgent of Vega1960Van der Poel, Jr.
82Edward E. SmithThe Vortex Blaster1960Van der Poel, Jr.
83Frederik PohlDrunkard’s Walk1960Van der Poel, Jr.
84John W. CampbellInvaders from the Infinite1961Van der Poel, Jr.
85Edward E. SmithGray Lensman1961Rogers
86Everett B. ColeThe Philosophical Corps1962Van der Poel, Jr.
Colophon by Edd Cartier

Ric Binkley

Travelers of Space (1951) (variant 2)

Sands of Mars (1952)

The Mixed Men (1952)

Robots Have No Tails (1952)

The Starmen (1952)

The Robot and the Man (1953)

Iceworld (1953)

Second Foundation (1953)

Mutant (1953)

Space Lawyer (1953)

Shambleau and Others (1953)

Lost Continents (1954) (with L. Robert Tschirky)

The Forgotten Planet (1954) (variant 1)

Northwest of Earth (1954)

Gray Lensman (interior art only)


Richard Roland Binkley, Jr. (1921-1968) is another of those figures from the early days of f&sf who quietly did their work without becoming part of the in-group and so have vanished from history. No photographs of him can be found and even his full name and therefore his birth and death dates are best guesses, leading to suspicions that he might have been an immortal vampire temporarily assuming an identity.

All that history records is that he contributed about four dozen f&sf covers during the 1950s and a handful of interior illustrations elsewhere. (An auction credits him with the cover for The Sierra Trail by Frederick Colt, which apparently appeared only in a large print edition in 1962.) His first credited work in the genre, Galactic Patrol by Edward E. Smith, Ph.D. for Fantasy Press, appeared in 1950. Gnome quickly snapped him up and half of his output over the next few years were for them. He seems never to have drawn for a single f&sf magazine. At the 11th Worldcon in Philadelphia in 1953, though, he was a judge for the costume show along with fellow Gnome artists Frank Kelly Freas and Ed Emshwiller, glittery names today but also mere tyros at the time. In COKER, Kyle remembers that Binkley “lived in the area and was just getting started in the field, so we were able to afford him.”

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction calls his work “generally undistinguished.” Maybe. The cover of A. E. van Vogt’s The Mixed Men is either an exception or a refutation. Amazingly, it’s unique in Gnome’s history by showing the inside of a space ship. And a great view we get. The odd overhead angle is like a peek at the future through a time viewer; somehow more real than the standard, straight-on, movie posterish head shots of stalwart spacemen or whirlpooling galaxies. The giant T-headed arrow draws the buyer’s eye to the stunning sight of a person walking through a wall out of what can only be a transporter device. An even huger window looks out into a starry universe dominated by a nearly planet. The cover is a nearly perfect scream of “science fiction” in the Campbellian sense of a page lifted from a future magazine. Although the elevator-floor-style dials date the imagery, both operators appear to be watching screens, one on the wall, the other on the console, a touch that must have felt especially modern in 1952 since it still seems right today. The epic grandeur given to an indoor space is a marvel in composition.

And that extends to the spine, which continues the scene. Another arrow begs the reader to pick up the book to see what it’s pointing at. Doing so reveals the transporter, now shown to be a shaftway as large as an elevator bank, a sublime pairing of beckoning and rewarding, far surpassing the Hemingway cover mentioned above.

Binkley’s original art for C. L. Moore’s Northwest of Earth sold at auction in 2006 for $600.

Hannes Bok

The Castle of Iron (1950)


Wayne Francis Woodard (1914-1964) adopted his literal pen name of Hannes Bok in tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach. He was given to outsized admiration of his favorites, proclaiming himself the world’s greatest fan of painter Maxfield Parrish, movie composer Max Steiner, and fantasist A. Merritt. The gaudy pulp covers of Frank R. Paul made him want to be an artist and he joined the small community of science fiction enthusiasts. How small and interconnected is exemplified by the story of his discovery. Bok moved to Los Angeles in the late 1930s, where he found the Los Angeles Science Fiction League (later Society). His first published drawings illustrated verse by member and future professional Emil Petaja and he drew cover art for teenage fanboy’s Ray Bradbury’s first four fanzines. The epic first Worldcon in New York in 1939 drew Bradbury, who took with him samples of Bok’s art. Weird Tales editor S. Farnsworth Wright immediately signed Bok up to do covers and interiors. Other editors followed, making Bok one of the major artists in the field throughout the 1940s. His figures were always in motion, swirling through Bok’s lush landscapes and backgrounds, a coherent world that seemed to lack straight lines.

Bok also wrote fantasy, some for Weird Tales, with his one major novel, The Sorcerer’s Ship, appearing in Unknown. He completed two fragments of novels left after Merritt’s death, which got published by the New Collector’s Group (NCG), a very small press created for the purpose by Paul Dennis O’Connor with Bok as a partner. Martin Greenberg got involved with the press in 1948 (see The History of Gnome) and somehow walked away with its next project, The Carnelian Cube, which became Gnome’s first release in 1948. Bok was left with a large amount of debt with the collapse of NCG and lingering bitterness. A 1954 letter in ESHBACH reads:

I hate owing people money, especially when I don’t know WHEN (if ever) I’ll be able to pay it back. It took me seven years of grabbing any cheesy job (many of which I didn’t want) to manage to pay back debts incurred (with O’Connor’s aid) in 1945 & I swore I’d starve to death before I’d get back in that kind of hole again. I’m not Jim Williams [of Prime Press] or O’Connor or Marty Greenberg. I’m me.

That Bok consented to work for Greenberg can only be explained by a severe money crunch. The stylized gryphon with rider on the cover of The Castle of Iron is not close to Bok’s top work, although it’s better than the mostly stiff science fiction art of Gnome’s early days. Better are the six illustrations he contributed to the 1949 Fantasy Calendar, topped by the scandalously nude cover.

Bok tied with Ed Emshwiller for Best Cover Artist at the first Hugo Award ceremonies in 1953. As Bok did exactly two covers in 1952, the award has to be read as for lifetime achievement. He is one of the rare Gnome artists to have been a giant in the field when Greenberg commissioned him; Marty mostly stuck to younger, presumably cheaper, up-and-comers. Bok left the field not long after, letting his fascination with astrology lead to a new career which he pursued until his early death.

Chesley Bonestell

The Complete Book of Outer Space (1953)


Chesley Knight Bonestell (1888-1986) painted his first astronomical in 1905 at seventeen and died at the age of 98 with an unfinished painting on his easel. Bonestell is certainly the most acclaimed astronomical artist of all time, even though he didn’t enter the field professionally until 1944, after careers as an architectural illustrator and matte painter for Hollywood movies. (He also made a name as one of the designers of the Chrysler Building famed art deco façade.) A Life magazine feature on the solar system featured Bonestell’s imagined views of Saturn from its moons. Its sensational impact launched a new career.

Although his astronomicals fit perfectly into the image of science fiction as spaceships and outer space, Bonestell said he “never read the stuff.” Insiders didn’t care; they wanted his art badly, which can be found on dozens of covers, mostly for Astounding and F&SF, as well as art for the movies Destination Moon and War of the Worlds. However, most of his fame came from mainstream sources. He was the go-to artist for every article on space travel in the 1950s, his magnificent vistas more beckoning than all the science and science fiction combined. He illustrated Willy Ley’s The Conquest of Space (1949) and the blockbuster Conquest of the Moon, collecting articles from Collier’s magazine by all the leading space scientists, a winner of the International Fantasy Award. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and an award for best science fiction art is named for him.

Bonestell sneaks into this list only because he did the cover for the nonfiction magazine misleadingly titled The Complete Book of Outer Space. Gnome reprinted it in hardcovers and kept the Bonestell cover of a rocket on a lunar landscape taken from Destination Moon. The magazine also reprinted pieces of existing art as illustrations for the articles. Artists included Bonestell, other Gnome artists Ed Emshwiller, Ric Binkley, and Mel Hunter, as well as Tom O’Reilly, Frank R. Paul, Alex Schomburg, Bunji Tagawa, G. Harry Stine (as Lee Correy), Richard Powers, and Gaylord Welker.

Edd Cartier

Pattern for Conquest (1949)

Sixth Column (1949)

Men Against the Stars (1950)

Minions of the Moon (1950)

Cosmic Engineers (1950)

I, Robot (1950)

Journey to Infinity (1951)

Seetee Ship (1951)

Travelers of Space (1951) (cover illustrations and interior art)

Foundation and Empire (1952)

Earthman’s Burden (1957) (cover and interior art)


Edward Daniel Cartier (1914-2008) started drawing as a child, with thoughts of being a cartoonist or an illustrator of westerns when he grew up. He entered the Pratt University’s School of Fine arts in Brooklyn and fortuitously encountered western pulp illustrator Harold Winfield Scott, who became his mentor. Pratt had close ties with the magazine industry, then centered in New York, and another instructor was William James, an art director for pulp giant Street & Smith. James started assigning Cartier weekly drawings for western pulps, as well as the romance, crime, movie and other magazines the company offered.

As soon as Cartier graduated in 1936, James offered him a full-time slot as pulp illustrator. His primary assignment was providing interior art for The Shadow pulp but he filled in time as needed as the rest of the line’s magazines. Cartier did hundreds of drawings over the next three years before John W. Campbell approached him to head up art for a new magazine Street & Smith was launching. (Cartier had a double in: not only did he already work for the company but his old teacher Scott did the cover for the inaugural issue. In fact, between them Scott and Cartier did the art for 10 of the 16 non-text covers.) Campbell was of course the editor of Astounding Science-Fiction, starting its fabled run, and wanted to pair that with a companion fantasy magazine. The new magazine, Unknown, wowed the f&sf world just as much and Cartier’s illustrations were ideal for boosting its appeal. His images were often goofily cartoonish; his elves and gnomes and even his monsters and dragons smiled out of the pages, the perfect companions for the humorous fantasies that Campbell doted on.

Unknown faded away in 1943, a victim of wartime paper shortages, and Cartier went into the service along with the majority of Campbell’s writers. When the war ended, though, they all returned, and Cartier appeared in almost every issue of Astounding from 1947 through 1953.

Cartier was the illustrator of the work of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, who would be Gnome’s first authors, and of stories by L. Ron Hubbard and Fritz Leiber and Norvell W. Page and Clifford Simak and Lewis Padgett and Robert Moore Williams, all of which later appeared in Gnome books. Since Greenberg spent most of his editorial time looking through old issues of Astoundings and Unknowns, he couldn’t help see illustration after illustration by the artist who dominated the interiors for a decade. Greenberg naturally wanted the artist associated with Campbell for a press that would sometimes seem like a Campbell reprint house. Cartier did the cover for the fourth Gnome title, and the fifth, and the sixth and would keep coming back again and again. This is odd in some ways. For all his prolificness, Cartier seldom did cover art. His work for Gnome represents almost half of all the covers he did in his lifetime. By contrast, ESHBACH estimates that he did 1500 interior drawings.

Then again, Greenberg didn’t limit him to covers. Cartier was to provide the visual image of Gnome in the eyes of the reading public. Although Dave Kyle first penned the house colophon of a gnome reading books sheltered under a toadstool, the sudden swerve from fantasy that didn’t sell to science fiction that did called for a more appropriate image. The back of Pattern for Conquest saw the debut of a bubble-helmeted gnome reading a book titled Gnome Press Science Fiction. It was not one of Cartier’s better ideas and saw only one more appearance before both logos were dropped from back panels for a year. He got it right the second time, a compact image of the helmeted Gnome riding a book-shaped rocket. All the ancillary details added to the impact: a communications antenna on the helmet, a ringed planet disappearing underneath, even the puff of unscientific smoke coming out as rocket exhaust. The logo appeared both on the back panel and on the spine of Greenberg’s own anthology, Journey to Infinity, and then appeared haphazardly through 1956. When the back panels became a full page of text, listing titles without cover images, Cartier contributed the perfect visual accompaniment, a gnome bent over by the weight of a stack of books on its back. “Buy them all” was the subliminal message. Oddly, although this image debuted on 1951’s Travelers in Space, it disappeared until 1953, appeared on several books, and then disappeared again. ESHBACH said that Cartier also prepared colophons for possible western and mystery lines that the ever-ambitious Greenberg made plans for, but neither the cowboy gnome nor the Sherlock Holmes gnome have ever been sighted since. (In their place, readers could make do with the closest variant, Hokas dressed up as cowboys, Holmes, pirates, and space-farers introducing the chapters in Cartier’s last Gnome book, Earthman’s Burden, the Hoka stories by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson, all of which Cartier had illustrated in original magazine form.)

Cartier also slammed home the gnome theme in the Gnome Fantasy Calendars for 1949 and 1950. While Hannes Bok drew thoroughly Bokian characters, Cartier provided big-nosed, large-eared gnomes for four of the five illustrations in each year, with the April 1949 gnome a close relative of the ones in his colophons. He did all four illustrations for the seldom-seen 1952 calendar. Each page covered three months probably because they were done in color. Too bad that almost nobody got to see them because they are the most interesting of all the calendar illos. The juxtapositions between the ancient, present, and future give them a heft that the others lack.

Speaking of color, Cartier was also responsible for the only color insert in any Gnome title, a series of sixteen portraits of “alien beings” illustrating Dave Kyle’s “special descriptive story” “The Interstellar Zoo” in the Travelers of Space anthology. The book’s cover lifts three of these, sadly decolorized, and adds three more.

Despite the prodigious output, the low-pay endemic to the genre deprived the field of Cartier’s presence. When his first child was born, Cartier left for the steadier, if duller, pay of commercial work. He only did a handful of genre illustrations after 1953. His return for Earthman’s Burden was a boon: few artists are so closely identified with a particular world as Cartier and the planet Yoka and his Hokas supersede all later efforts. For this and much more, in 1992 he was given a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Lionel Dillon

The Seedling Stars (1957)

Two Sought Adventure (1957)

Methuselah’s Children (1958)

Tros of Samothrace (1958) (with W. I. Van der Poel, Jr.) (as Lionell Dillon)


The artistic progression of Lionel John Dillon, Jr. (1933-2012) uncannily parallels that of Ed Emshwiller (see below). The extraordinarily talented youth recognized art as his calling from a young age. He went to the High School of Art and Design in his native New York and then entered the Army planning on using the GI Bill to subsidize college. A teacher steered him to New York’s famed Parsons School of Design. There he would meet an equally talented woman, Diane Sorber, who would become his lifemate as wife and fellow artist. They started working on commercial projects while still in school, quickly learning and absorbing a variety of techniques to meet deadlines.

After their joint graduation in 1956, they, like the Emshwillers, also delayed their marriage for a year but for a different reason. Lionel was black, of Trinidadian descent, and Diane was white. They were unsure of their reception in the troubled 1950s. Diane took a job in Albany while Lionel tried freelancing commercially. He wouldn’t do sexualized nudes, which limited his ability to place work in the multitude of men’s magazines that hired so many beginning artists, but got hired for a clothed piece in The Dude, a short-lived competitor of Playboy. The editor, Bruce Elliott, was an f&sf fan and writer. He likely was the conduit that introduced Dillon to art director W. I. Van der Poel. As he had done with Emshwiller, Van der Poel immediately commissioned a ton of work from Dillon, starting with four stories in the March 1957 Galaxy Science Fiction. He illustrated 11 more stories that year and 27 from 1958 through 1960 and that number is so low only because Galaxy went bi-monthly at the beginning of 1959.

At the same time, Van der Poel brought Dillon to Gnome, exactly as he had done with Emshwiller. Dillon did four covers in little over a year, his technique varying from the almost schematic diagram of a human face for Methuselah’s Children to the formal classical portraiture on Tros of Samothrace.

Lionel finally married Diane in 1958, beginning the five-decade partnership and collaboration that became known as Leo & Diane Dillon, the only art team to win a Hugo Award. They, again like Emshwiller, did two covers for the Galaxy Science Fiction Novel series in 1958 and these, while unsigned, are recognizably the joint style that would come to fruition in their cover art for the first 36 Ace Science Fiction Special paperbacks of the 1960s. They are inseparable in memory, Leo&Diane, a singular plural. However, the four Gnome covers and all the Galaxy magazine interior art appear to be the solo work of Lionel. That was a short phase in his long career. Except for the Specials and covers for Harlan Ellison’s books, Dillon seldom did genre f&sf again. Even so, the Dilllons’ love of fantasy would be discovered in their Caldecott Award winning children’s books and they, like Edd Cartier, would be given a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Frances E. Dunn

            The Porcelain Magician (1948) (cover and interior art)


Frances E. Dunn is an utter mystery. No biography turns up on the internet, in newspaper databases, in fanzine archives, or in f&sf reference books. The ISFDB lists no other works than The Porcelain Magician. No other art can be found that bears the name anywhere.

Fortunately, a scrap of information appears in COKER. Kyle remembers that he arranged for her, “a budding author and a talented amateur artist” to do the illustrations. In yet another example of the tiny world of f&sf then, she had been in the WACs during the war, where she had met WAC officer Dorothy LesTina. They took an apartment together in New York after the war, probably before LesTina’s husband could make it back from Europe. That husband was Frederik Pohl.

Each story was accompanied by an illustration. Several included discreet but explicit female nudes. It’s interesting that in the mid-century nudity was almost always absolutely prohibited in conjunction with science fiction but occasionally allowed when applied to fantasy. Three of the illustrations were sold at auction in 2006 for a total of $448.13, including buyer’s premium.

Ed Emshwiller

Prelude to Space (1954) (as by Emsh)

Mel Oliver and Space Rover on Mars (1954) (as by Emsh)

The Forgotten Planet (1954) (variant 2) (as by Emsh)

Conan the Barbarian (1954) (as by Emsh)

Undersea Quest (1954) (as by Emsh)

All About the Future (1955)

Science Fiction Terror Tales (1955)

Address: Centauri (1955)

Sargasso of Space (1955)

Tales of Conan (1955) (as by Emsh)

 Plague Ship (1956)

Interplanetary Hunter (1956) (with W. I. Van der Poel, Jr.) (illustrations only)

SF: The Year’s Greatest Science-Fiction and Fantasy 1956 (as by Emsh)

Highways in Hiding (1956) (as by Emsh)

Undersea Fleet (1956)


Edmund Alexander Emshwiller (1925-1990) started on the formal path familiar to many young artists. He joined the Army straight out of high school and found himself in Special Services, doing signs and posters. After the war he studied art at the University of Michigan, where he met Carol Fries studying design. They married in 1949. When she received a Fulbright scholarship to study at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, Ed again studied alongside her. Upon their return he went to the prestigious Art Students League of New York.

Then, to the delight of a generation of f&sf fans, he somehow got snared by our déclassé and much despised world. Perhaps it was the ubiquitous influence of W. I. Van der Poel, the art director at Galaxy. Emshwiller entered the field like a cannonball, doing 15 interior illustrations for the May 1951 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction, some as by Emsh and the rest as by Willer. He illustrated one or more stories in every subsequent issue that year, and also did the cover art for the July, August and December issues as well as the cover for Galaxy Novel #8, Odd John by Olaf Stapleton. Then in 1952 he got busy. Before he left the field a mere dozen years later, he had some 400 credits, including the cover for the January 1953 Galaxy, which was reused as the cover for my Robots In American Popular Culture. Many of them featured images of a striking woman, modeled after Carol. She enjoyed the company of the tiny, intimate, and welcoming f&sf community and started writing stories of her own, jewellike objects that brought her a cult reputation.

Greenberg finally got his hands on the prodigy in December 1953, when Greenberg ordered four black-and-white paintings which would be converted to color by the printer. Luis Ortiz, in Emshwiller: Two x Infinity, reports that “On February 3, 1954, Greenberg invited Ed on a trip to Lebanon Pa., where Gnome Press did its four color printing, to see how monochromatic artwork was turned into color. Ed learned the printer’s trick of “faking of color” by using overlays to indicate where a particular color ink will appear.”

Knowing a good thing, Greenberg ordered almost a dozen more paintings. From 1954 to 1956 Emsh supplied the cover art for 15 of the 20 titles Gnome released. (One cover is a bit of a cheat. Just as Dave Kyle took Edd Cartier’s interior illustrations from Travelers of Space and posed them on the dust jacket, Van der Poel took Emshwiller’s interior illustrations from Interplanetary Hunter and posed them on the dust jacket. Presumably, galleries of aliens sold science fiction books even without menace or action.) He never returned. Perhaps it was simple lack of time: he did 49 covers in 1957 and 57 in 1958. And it’s likely his price rose out of Greenberg’s range. The frantic pace continued though 1964 when he abruptly devoted his career to experimental film and later video, eventually serving as dean of the School of Film/Video at the California Institute of Arts from 1979 until his death in 1990. Before he left the field, however, he was awarded five Best Artist Hugo Awards, including a share of the first (as Best Cover Artist), with Hannes Bok, in 1953.

John Forte

Conan the Conqueror (1950) (with David A. Kyle)


John Robert Forte, Jr. (1918-1966) was another native New Yorker who took advantage of the city’s seemingly inexhaustible resources. He dropped out of high school, but after work went to night school at Manhattan’s Career School of Art. His first published art appeared in 1940 for the short-lived magazine Comet, edited by former Astounding fixture S. Orlin Tremaine. Comet is not remembered for anything today but it has a Gnome connection in that Edward E. Smith’s first story about Storm Cloud, Vortex Blaster, appeared in its last of five issues. Forte moved over to Future Fantasy and Science Fiction for a year and also began doing pencil work for Timely Comics in 1942.

After the war, Forte went full-time into comics work, responsible for hundreds of stories for just about every publisher until his early death. His drawing on the cover of the first Conan novel is apparently a unique exception. How did this come about? Tiny world alert. Forte met Dave Kyle at the Career School. They became good friends. As Kyle later reminisced, “We were irrepressibly young, discovering new experiences, such as cigarette smoking and stark nude life classes. Like me, John Forte was an admirer of Alex Raymond’s marvelous drawings for Flash Gordon.” The two remained friends, so close that Forte moved in as a roommate in Kyle’s apartment in 1947. The cover followed inevitably.

Frank Kelly Freas    

Five Science Fiction Novels (1952) (as by Frank Kelly Frease)

City (1952) (as by Frank Kelly Frease)

Judgment Night (1952) (as by Frank Kelly Frease)

Against the Fall of Night (1953) (as by Frank Kelly Frease)

Children of the Atom (1953) (as by Frank Kelly Frease)

The Coming of Conan (1953)


Frank Kelly (1922-2005) added the last name Freas after his stepfather adopted him. He spent his formative years in the war, where, among many other things, he painted bomber noses with “pulchritudinous women,” as the New York Times put it. A stint at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh followed. As with so many of the artists on this list, he entered the field by accident. Although he was a reader of f&sf as a youth, he had no intentions of making a career in it until a classmate suggested that he submit an illustration done as a class assignment to Weird Tales. The alien version of Pan herding bubbles was somewhat Bokian, supple, in motion, and vividly alive on the November 1950 cover. His second piece of cover art did not arrive for another year, on another Weird Tales, a decidedly second-rank magazine at the time. Then his third cover was for Gnome. And his fourth. And fifth, and sixth, and seventh, and eighth. Five of which misspelled his last name as Frease. Five.

Maybe this is why after six straight covers for Gnome he never worked for them again, but Freas probably didn’t even look up from his workbench. He did four dozen interiors and almost a dozen covers in 1953 and zoomed up from there. Of all the prodigious performers on this list, Freas easily ranks first in production. Legendarily, he painted five hundred portraits for The Franciscan Book of Saints (1959) and that didn’t dent his f&sf output. He became the face of Astounding, racking up 39 covers in the 1950s and dozens of interior illustrations on his way to winning four Best Artist Hugos in 1955, 1956, 1958, and 1959. He took some time off in the 1960s, but returned in the 1970s to win six more Hugos. He totaled 26 nominations. Freas’ “lost” decade was filed to the brim with such work as covers for MAD magazine from 1958-1962, all of them featuring his iconic version of Alfred E. Neuman. NASA beckoned in the 1970s and he did a series of classic posters celebrating the space program. (I have one, an awesome image of a rocket blasting away from an egg-like earth home.) He also designed the Skylab crew patch.

Hundreds of additional paintings poured out of him, including all 58 covers for the Laser Books line. His career spanned 50 years, possibly longer than any other artist’s in the field, and he was posthumously named to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2006.