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Saturday, March 13, 2021

Review: Illustrators #31 (January 2021)


Jason Edmison, who features in the opening article of the latest issue, is the kind of discovery I enjoy making in the pages of Illustrators. Where else would you find a feature on a talented artist who paints monsters, often with a humorous twist? Or screen prints of new movie posters of old movies, ranging from The Creature of the Black Lagoon to Nightmare on Elm Street.

The Canadian artist began selling illustrations in Toronto and building up a portfolio which eventually earned him work with Hasbro on their Star Wars toys line. This brought him to the attention of other manufacturers, magazines, including Famous Monsters in Filmland, and pop art galleries where much of the work used here has been exhibited.


Mel Crawford was another Canadian artist whose work was chiefly humorous and involved bringing film and television characters to print. Crawford (1925-2015) worked in comics (Western Publishing, Dell) and the Little Golden Books series, drawing The Flintstones, Rocky & Bullwinkle and others. In the Sixties, for Gold Key, he also worked in a more realistic style on Doctor Solar and Star Trek.

Crawford drew some of the most famous animated characters, from Mr Magoo to Top Cat , but never worked in animation.

French artist Luc Cornillon has also worked in a cartoony, linge claire style. After co-creating a fanzine with Yves Chaland, Cornillon worked for Metal Hurlant in a variety of genres. He and Chaland put together Captiivant, a parody of Fifties French comic magazines, which allowed him to draw in a variety of styles. He has gone on to work widely in other comics, book illustrations and other commercial art.


My favourite feature in this issue is unrelated and, I suspect, concerns an artist few will have heard of—and here I repeat that Illustrators is a great place to be introduced to new talents. Hannes Bok is well known among collectors of SF and horror pulps, but little was known about him, Bok having died in 1964, aged only 49. Bok was not even his real name—he was born Wayne Francis Woodard.

After a troubled childhood, Bok began drawing for science fiction and weird fiction magazines, having befriended Ray Bradbury and discovered SF fandom in the late 1930s. He would contribute to Weird Tales, Unknown, Planet Stories, Future, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Imagination, Other Worlds, etc. He also wrote poems, short stories and a novel ('The Sorcerer's Ship' for Unknown Worlds).

Bok's painting technique was slow and meant he did not always hit deadlines and he argued over payments which did not endear him to editors or commissioners. In the late 1950s he left illustration behind, and lived in near poverty until his death—rumored to have starved to death.


Rowena Morrill is a rather more modern artist, whose richly painted fantasies began appearing on book covers in the late 1970s and she quickly developed a style that caused her to be dubbed "the female Boris Vallejo". She was, in fact, a late bloomer, already in her mid-thirties when success came in art after years travelling with the military, first with her parents, then her husband.

She found work as a cover artist through the Yellow Pages, contacting Ace Books who published romance, horror and SF illustrations. She was nominated five times for Hugo Awards and had two collections of her work published before retiring in the 2000s.

For more information on Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website, where you can also find details of their online editions, and news of upcoming issues. Issue 32 will have features on Oliver Frey, George & Jerome Rozen, Alberto Breccia and Marcela Bolivar.

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