Classic Science-Fiction Illustrators (Part 1) – Jim Burns

To celebrate ten years of Sci-Fi-O-Rama I thought it would be poignant to reacquaint you with some of the most popular artists we’ve featured through the decade.

Here then is the first part of a new series featuring a selection of genre pioneers synonymous with the pre-digital ‘Golden Age’ of Sci-Fi Illustration. These are artists that were most prolific – though not exclusively – during the 1970s and 1980s, together they’ve captured and inspired the imagination of millions.

In no specific lets then begin with Welsh maestro Jim Burns…

Jim Burns

Jim Burns (born in Cardiff, April 1948) has enjoyed an extremely prolific career dating back to the early 1970s. During these forty years and more he’s produced cover and interior art for literally hundreds of Science Fiction and Fantasy titles including work for authors such as George R. R. Martin, Frank, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett to name but a few.

Jim Steranko – Outland

Jim Steranko – Outland

Sci-Fi-O-Rama contributor Ben Feldman recently pointed me toward an online selection of Heavy Metal, the infamous American Sci-Fi/Fantasy magazine most prominent in the late 70s and 1980s.

Heavy Metal was originally a remix of translated material from the French comic anthology Métal hurlant and prominently features art from Gallic masters such as Moebius, Enki Bilal, Philippe Caza and Phillippe Druillet.

Anyway, whilst scanning through the back issues I came across samples of this Jaw-dropping Jim Steranko adaptation of the Sean Connery Sci-Fi flick Outland (Peter Hyams, 1981). The level of draughtsmanship detail is simply incredible, a level of confident intricacy that rivals even the technicality Katsuhiro Otomo.

Jim Steranko - Outland

A quick recap, Outland is a ‘high-noon-in-space’ type thriller that features some superb claustrophobic set design akin to Ridley Scott’s Alien, though distinctive enough to merit its own plaudits. The plot revolves around a drug smuggling conspiracy set on a mining colony on Jupiter’s moon Io and whilst the film’s narrative is at times plodding it does have a brooding edge and features decent performances most notably from Connery.

Dan McPharlin – Selected Works

Dan McPharlin – Selected Works

Veteran readers of Sci-Fi-O-Rama will obviously be familiar with the work of Austrailian artist and model-maker Dan McPharlin. He contributed to several posts and of course, designed the Sci-Fi-O-Rama logo. I’ve featured his gorgeous paintings many times and also interviewed him back in 2010.

Sadly as you probably are aware, in 2015 Dan’s internet presence stopped, and thus, nothing new has since appeared. This is not necessarily ominous, I believe Dan may simply be living ‘off-the-grid’. Over the past few years, I’ve received several emails regarding contacting him for potential commisions, I’m afraid I know nothing more than mentioned, I’ve lost touch with him myself. Anyway, let us not be gloomy, I’m sure he’s fine and busy beavering away on some spellbinding-vista as you read this…

A recap then and study of his overflowing talent.

Dan McPharlin - Storie Incredibili / Contatto col nemico

Dan McPharlin - Storie Incredibili / Contatto col nemico

Above and Title Image: ‘Storie Incredibili / Contatto col Nemico’  Wired Magazine (Italy), July-August 2014 issue.

These serene post-apocalyptic Illustrations form the perfect introduction to the art of Dan McPharlin and demonstrate how he excels at his craft. A delicate blend of Science Fiction and Surrealism, perfectly composed with a precisely balanced colour palette washed over with soft mists of texture.

The Star Wars Space Armies of John Mollo

John Mollo Starwars costume sketches

Above: (1) Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith – evil figurehead of the Imperial Forces. (2) A member of Darth Vader’s Guard Corps. Notice the Vader style helmet. (3) This Imperial pilot wears armour in the style of the Stormtroopers.

Just in case you’ve been living under an icy rock in a galaxy far, far away you may not have noticed one of two things. Firstly Sci-Fi-O-Rama hasn’t published any new material for aeons, and secondly, there’s a brand new Starwars Film out. So then, in an effort to bound the two together here’s a rare gem I’ve managed to unearth featuring the original trilogy’s Oscar-winning Costume designer John Mollo.

Foss by Jeff Love

Foss by Jeff Love

Sci-Fi-O-Rama proudly present a very special feature on Chris Foss, as profiled by Jeff Love, owner and admin of the sublime Sci-Fi art blog Ski-ffy.

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Born in 1946 in Guernsey, Channel Islands, Chris Foss is a British illustrator and a powerhouse of science fiction design and invention. His work is a celebration of future machinery, impossibly sized constructions exist on a planetary scale; a showcase of hardware so large that the human figure is dwarfed by comparison.

Chris Foss by Jeff Love

Arriving in the SF illustration field in the early 1970s, he is a cult figure, influential and universally admired. For British SF and SF art, his work can be seen as a catalyst; his prolific output was used abundantly in the UK paperback market, particularly by publishing houses like Panther, Coronet (Hodder & Stoughton) and Granada. Foss’ iconic paintings adorned the covers of American classics; E. E. Smith’s Lensman and Family d’Alembert series, reprints of the works of Asimov, James Blish and Philip K. Dick. These colourful scenes of gargantuan spacecraft, space-scenes and enormous robots not only influenced an entire school of imitators but instilled a love of future-tech amongst several generations of science fiction fans.

Chris Foss by Jeff Love

The Model Shop Part 2: Norman Conquest 2066 sculpture by Grant Louden + interview

Norman Conquest 2066 - Grant Louden

After an exceptionally long gap between posts, Sci-Fi-O-Rama finally returns with new material. Apologies for the extended state of dormancy, life gets in the way sometimes.

Let’s then not dwell on the forlorn and instead nuke 2015 with another flyby of master-craftsman and styrene alchemist Grant Louden AKA Betelgeuse.

A quick recap then on what the Betelgeuse workshop is all about. Well in a nutshell Grant takes the finest Two Dimensional 70’s Sci-Fi cover art and literally breathes 3-Dimensional life over them.

We featured Grant’s first mind-blowing evolution of Colin Hay’s this time last year. This time it’s science fiction artisan illustrator Chris Foss is in the crosshairs.

Grant kindly took some time out to tell us more about his latest creation, here’s the feature:

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