The 1941 Retro Hugo Awards (Part 3 The Cover Artists)

Visit the 1941 Retro Hugo Awards Page for a complete list of articles and supplements.

Cover Art probably had far greater importance in 1940 than it does now.  Images draw us in and back in 1940, it is for certain that your average science fiction reader was not inundated with hundreds, if not thousands of SFnal images on a daily basis.  Artists could not display all of their work on the web – if they were lucky they got in a couple of images per month!  Not to mention the competition on the news stands.  There’s a reason why pulps used such outre lettering on their titles and a reason why their covers were often bright and action packed if not garish, over-blown and titillating.  That cover had to catch the eye of someone passing by at walking speed for whom spending a quarter was a serious enterprise..

The artists represented on the covers of 1940 run the gamut from the iconically familiar to the obscure:

Earle Bergey
Jack Binder
Hannes Bok
Howard V. Brown
Margaret Brundage
Edd Cartier
A. Drake
Virgil Finlay
Robert Fuqua
H.R. Hammond
CL Hartman
M. Isip
William Juhre[/two]
[two_last]Julian S Krupa & Leo Morey
Gabriel Mayorga
H. W. McCauley
Leo Morey
Stockton Mulford
Frank R. Paul
Ray Quigley
Hubert Rogers
Charles Schneeman
J. W. Scott
Bob Sherry
J. Allen St John


Famous and familiar are Frank R. Paul, Margaret Brundage, Leo Morey, Howard Brown, J. Allen St. John (of Burrough’s cover fame), Hannes Bok, Virgil Finlay and Hubert Rogers.  Sadly (for award purposes) the luster seems to have gone out of both Paul’s and Brundage’s work.  Finlay is also not shown to great effect, though bits and pieces of his best do come through. Bok is not nearly as surrealistic as one normally associates with his work.  Brown displays a wide range of subject. Rogers equally so, particularly in the area of technology.

Of the relatively unfamiliar, Juhre’s depiction of an alien being is quite striking.  I am also fond of Fuqua’s Adam Link vs Tank cover.  (But then robots and tanks are a thing with me.)

So here are the cover efforts of the women and men who were among the first to realize the crazed imaginations of the science fiction authors. (Clicking an image will display a larger version.)


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  1. McCauley, Rogers, and Scott all turned in some spectacular work here. Finley hadn’t quite hit his high point, and Brundage, while always good, isn’t quite at her greatest. Bok’s work is always quirky and fun, but neither of these are his best either. If I was to choose a favorite artist from the entire group (a difficult task!) I’d have to go with J.W. Scott – the March Future Fiction is iconic and fun, while that January Unknown cover is simply spectacular.

  2. Not the best year for cover art. Finlay, St, John, and Brundage are slightly below par, IMO. Gilmore’s is striking but atypical of the period. Fuqua for “Adam Link Fights a War” is slightly muddy – I’ve seen the magazine in person. Captain Future has not yet hit its stride. If I had to pick my favorite, it would have to be Hannes Bok on the March Weird Tales. It’s a classic Bok, and undoubtedly weird.

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