Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Happening upon a few 'Pulp' Sci-Fi illustrations by Lawrence, Virgil Finlay and Hannes Bok, 1948 - 1951

I was in the Red Rock country of Utah a couple of Saturdays back, driving down out of the hills with some folks after doing a bit of sightseeing.

Along the way, miles away from most things, we spotted a little sign that said 'Barn Sale Today' next to a dirt road. Yes, please, too odd and tempting to pass up.

I had to laugh at myself as I began to find a few cool old books and records and magazines buried among the bric-a-brac. I guess it doesn't matter how far you remove me from familiar territories or urban areas; my collector's instinct runs strong.

There were a half-dozen or so old pulp magazines, most of them pretty beat-up.

Despite a long-time appreciation for pulps and especially science-fiction digests, it's a line I've not previously crossed in my collecting.

My passions run all over the place, but some areas can be too vast - - and there are limits...
...or so I've heard.

It's sort of the same reason I mostly remain an outside spectator when it comes to Anime and Manga.

Interesting stuff, but I guess I feel like it's too long a thread to begin pulling at this late date...

...still, there I was at a freaking barn sale in the boonies of Utah.

How could I not pick out a couple of these? I mean, just look at 'em.

It took me back to one Summer when was a kid. A family down the street hired me to water plants and feed the cats while they were away for about a month.

The husband was into ham radio and science-fiction.
He had a cool den with a stack of old pulps on a shelf and dozens and dozens of 1950's issues of Galaxy, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Astounding magazines.

I was down there a lot that Summer while they were gone, poring through those treasures.
Absorbing the words, the images, the feel, the smell...


The covers on both of these well-worn issues and the black-and-white 'Second Deluge' illustrations from the July, 1948 issue of Fantastic Novels Magazine are by 'Lawrence', a.k.a. Lawrence Sterne Stevens.

(click on images to ENLARGE on a new page)

I'd never heard of Lawrence Sterne Stevens prior to this, and I'm not finding much info about him out there.

Just a typical assessment, that like many of the illustrators of that era, he was prolific in many genres for many publications over a number of years...

...Can anyone give us more?

Judging by these examples, I'd say his only fault was that his work wasn't quite as magical as that of his contemporaries,
Virgil Finlay and Hannes Bok.

I love that 'Gray Mahatma' cover illustration (below), and some of the detail in these others reminds me a bit of classic 'war' comic book artist Russ Heath.

- Some examples of Lawrence Sterne Stevens artwork can be seen at The Illustration Exchange: Science Fiction and Fantasy Art Collectors' Site.

Here's One (click on link), if you run a search there for his name, you'll find a few more.

Above, by Lawrence: ⬆ '"Great Heavens!" he said to himself. "It is the prophecy of the Second Deluge!"'

Below, by Lawrence: ⬇ Illustration for Frank Lillie Pollock's 'Finis' (1906), from the same issue.

Above, cover by Lawrence: ⬆ December, 1951 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries magazine, featuring Talbot Mundy's 'The Gray Mahatma', first published in 1922.

Below, ⬇ Virgil Finlay splash illustration for 'The Gray Mahatma'.

Above, ⬆ by Virgil Finlay for 'The Gray Mahatma'

(click on images to ENLARGE on a new page)

Below, ⬇ by Virgil Finlay: Illustration for Minna Irving's poem, 'The Spirit Boats' (1923), from the same issue.

See also:

- A Virgil Finlay bio page at Been Publishing I'm Back.

- Several big, beautiful troves of Virgil Finlay illustrations at Datajunkie.

Below, ⬇ by Hannes Bok: Illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's 'Pickman's Model' (1927), also appearing in the 12/51 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries.

See also:

- 'Hannes Bok: A Fan's Perspective' at American Art Archives.

- Hannes Bok Gallery 1
- Hannes Bok Gallery 2
- Hannes Bok Gallery 3
- Hannes Bok Gallery 4


Skipper Bartlett said...

wow! These are amazing.

Anonymous said...

what a find! I've been researching Virgil Finlay online for an article I want to write on him; your upload of the poem illustration is interesting given that most of the images of his online are from comic story illustrations or cover art, not poetry illustration. Thanks for sharing!

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