Friday, December 05, 2008

Rick Random: Cover Story

Fans of Ron Turner may have noticed that the cover for the new Rick RandomSpace Detective volume is new rather than a reprint of an actual Turner painting.

When we came to put together the volume, one of the problems we faced was that Turner, whilst a prolific contributor to Super Detective Library, where Rick Random originally appeared, had produced only two covers. One was for a non-SF story and the second, although a Rick Random adventure, was for an issue with interior art by Oliver Passingham, which we did not intend using in the volume (see below). The other covers (mostly by Arnold Beauvais and James McConnell) seemed to me to be poor and unrepresentative of the superb artwork inside.

Ron Turner's cover for Super Detective Library no.53 (1955)

We still had to put together a cover and Rod Green at Carlton had the thankless task of choosing an image from the poor selection of original Super Detective covers. The eventual dummy produced—which you can see at the head of this column—was to nobody's taste. James McConnell, a fine artist when it came to westerns and adventure yarns, had no feel for science fiction. The colouring would have looked great had this been the burned out deserts of Arizona but it didn't fit with anyone's idea of a book cover that would actually attract an audience in Waterstones or Borders or wherever the book was displayed.

Which is when I suggested we should have John Ridgway paint up a proper piece of Turner artwork. John I've known for many years, not only as a great artist (Commando, Dr Who Monthly, 2000AD and many other comics in the UK; American readers may know him best as the original artist on Hellblazer, and from The Age of Heroes) but also as a fan of old British science fiction comics which he grew up on, especially Dan Dare and various works by Ron Turner.

John had been playing around with colourizing old black and white strips, including a few roughs for Rick Random, so I knew he would be a perfect choice. A couple of phonecalls later and the idea had turned into a commission. I scanned up three images that I thought might be suitable—all from stories that we were including in the book—and mailed them to everyone involved (David Abbott at IPC, Rod at Carlton and John).

The three images from which we selected the final cover image

Once we had selected what we thought to be the right image (coincidentally, the same image that James McConnell had tried to illustrate), John—to a very tight deadline—produced a stunning piece of artwork.

With a little tweak to allow for the title lettering, this became the final artwork for the book. Below is an alternate version of the final cover with the 'Super Detective' logo in a different position.

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(* Rick Random © IPC Media.)


  1. It was interesting to read about the production of a cover and in particular to read about Ron Turner. I remember his work in TV Century 21 on the Daleks which was put together with the other Dalek strips Richard Jennings and Eric Eden into a Summer Special in 1994 by Doctor Who Magazine who were probably producing specials years after they had disappeared from the comics scene. (Although perhaps the new Crikey! magazine might produce occasional special issues.)
    In 1997 he illustrated a 6 part Dalek story for Doctor Who Magazine which was written by John Lawrence and after his death in 1998, artwork for a further Dalek story was found which unfortunately was unfinished and will presumably never be published.

  2. The Rick Random book is on my list of must-buys.

    I'd also like to see Space Ace reprinted in some form.

  3. Ooo, me url's been chopped off. Oo-er misses!!


  4. Crow,

    Watch out for the next issue of Spaceship Away as there will be a revamped reprint, in colour thanks to John Ridgway, of "Nick Hazard, Interstellar Agent", previously published by author Phil Harbottle and by Harrier Comics. It didn't last long, but was a fine example of Turner's later work.


    I'll ask around and see if I can track down any information on that unpublished Dalek tale.

  5. 2 pages of unpublished Ron Turner Dalek art, did appear in a issue of Doctor Who Magazine without lettering, and not at full size, not sure which issue.


  6. When I was a child I falled in love with Eblons and their horns, and with an entire army of robots traying to destroy a fort - by hands!
    Where are now these lost loves?
    Why not in this marvellous book?
    (Ehm... why the horrible Bill Lacey's "Killer in Space"? Yea, this was the first Rick Random story, but... but... the Horror is Horror, even in the N.1...).



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