The Prolific Pioneering Pulp Art Of Ed Emshwiller
I first saw the art of Ed Emshwiller–though I didn’t know it was Ed Emshwiller–on the cover of William Hope Hodgson’s The House On The Borderland, a book described by a friend and kindred lover of weird writing as “a found manuscript, swine creatures and the swift passing of the universe…is the narrator sane or not?”
As a matter of fact, if you are keen to compile a list of strange stories and terrifying tales, see their list of suggestions in this oldie-but-goodie blog post.
I don’t know if I loved the book, but I was absolutely obsessed with the cover art. And I don’t know what your idea of fun looks like, but for me, I derive fantastic enjoyment in trying to figure out who creates the art that I love–whether that takes the form of hunting down the source of annoying uncredited artwork on Instagram or Facebook, or, in this case, tracking down the artist responsible for decade’s old marvelously lurid cover. But honestly, I don’t think there was much detective work involved here. I just did a browser search for “house on the borderland cover artist,” and it was maybe the fourth search result. Super easy! Barely an inconvenience! It also led me to this cover by Alan Aldridge for the book, which is a lot of silly fun, too.
An astonishingly prolific and relatively successful artist, Ed Emshwiller (1925-1990) painted over 400 illustrations for the covers of sci-fi magazines, including Galaxy, Infinity, and Astounding Science Fiction, as well as many novels by the likes of Philip K. Dick, Leigh Brackett, and Samuel R. Delany. Apparently, some months his art counted for a third of all those included in the pulpy science fiction publications.
Not just a colorful renderer of menacing brain-controlling alien monsters, secret agent spacemen exploring the cosmos, and chic, futuristic goddesses from other dimensions–his works spanned abstract expressionist painting, commercial illustration, avant-garde film, video and computer art, and collaborations with dancers, choreographers, and composers.
You can see find an extensive listing of his covers at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, which is the resource I used to match the images I found below, to their respective book titles or or magazines.
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Andrew Porter says
Lots of good links to further explorations of Emshwiller art here:
S. Elizabeth says
John Coulthart beats me to 100% of the things that I end up writing about! Whenever I "discover" an artist, John has probably already written about them at least twice (but the upside is, that is how I know I have found a really cool artist!)