Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of Tufted Gumby Aliens and Mushroom People

(David Hardy’s cover for the November 1975 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)

I couldn’t stop laughing while putting together this post from my collection of gleaned covers: gumby in space with two fuzzy tufts and three unsymmetrical eye ridges (or, his fingers) ogling at a space probe, mushroom people transfixed by a mysterious white tentacled orb hoisted aloft by man in a pink cape and a skimpy pink unitard, evil nosed caterpillars, scary monstrous mole monster, etc.  Did the editors KNOW precisely what the art looked like before it appeared on the covers evoking such throat hurting unintended (or perhaps intended) consequences?  But, I have to admit there’s nothing like a cool (and funny alien) to make me pick up a book or magazine.

As always, what are your favorite funny alien covers which I haven’t posted?

I’ve read a few of Vance’s novels so I’ll probably pick up The Eyes of the Overworld eventually and The World Between and Other Stories eventually — are they worth reading?  I suspect that the 1939 Amazing stories edition (below) is little more than mindless pulp — but, I’m intrigued by The Best SF Stories from New Worlds ed. by Michael Moorcock.  The contents of the the New Worlds magazines are generally my cup of tea.


(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1966 edition of The Eyes of the Overworld (1966), Jack Vance)

(Robert Fuqua’s cover for the Febuary 1939 issue of Amazing Stories)

(Jack Gaughan’s cover for The World Between and Other Stories (1965), Jack Vance)

(Uncredited cover for Warlord of Kor (1963), Terry Carr)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for The Best SF Stories From New Worlds (1968), ed. Michael Moorcock)

For more similar posts see my Science Fiction Cover Art INDEX.

17 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of Tufted Gumby Aliens and Mushroom People

    • So, The Eyes of the Overworld is worth reading despite the terrible mushroom people and pink leotard man cover (above) 😉 hehehe…. Yeah, Vance is great fun — I’ve only read three of his novels so far (City of the Chasch, The Blue World, Showboat World)

  1. “gumby in space with two fuzzy tufts and three unsymmetrical eye ridges ogling at a space probe”

    Those aren’t three unsymmetrical eye ridges, it’s the fingers of his other hand (like he’s scratching his head in confusion).

  2. Eyes of the OverWorld and Cugel’s Saga are the most fun Vance books I have read. They are just a series of wacky and hilarious capers, the adventures of a ne’er do well trying (and often failing) to take advantage of other people as he journeys across a dangerous land.

    Other Vance I have really enjoyed include Araminta Station, Night Lamp, Trullion: Alastor 2262 and Wyst: Alastor 1716. While these all have fun parts, they are more serious than the Cugel books, less episodic, and seem to be trying to say something about life or society. The Cadwal Chronicles, of which Araminta Station is the first, and Wyst address political issues like environmentalism, immigration, constitutionalism, and socialism, while Trullion and Night Lamp are quite grim at times, with scenes that would not be out of place in a horror novel.

      • The big December 2000 omnibus Tales of the Dying Earth includes The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel’s Saga and Rialto the Magnificent. The Dying Earth is very popular, but I’ve read it twice and find it mediocre. I still have not read Rialto.

        I think Vance became a better writer as he aged. For example, the books of the Demon Princes series and of the Planet of Adventure series get better as the series progress.

      • I’d procure the old paperback editions anyway. Even if it costs me slightly more — I prefer the old covers, the smell, the feel, the color…. Part of the reading experience 😉

  3. I think my favorite cover is the dude in the leotard. Robin Hood in Space? Or perhaps, “Alas, Horatio, I knew him well…” as Hamlet to the critter in his grip!

  4. Gaughan sometimes used his kids’ toys as inspiration for aliens in his art. This includes plastic dinosaurs and stuff animals. The Warlord of Kor looks like Emsh art. Emsh also had kids and followed this time-saving way of getting paintings out the door quickly. Of course both artists would attempt to change the look of the toy to give a better alien. The two books I wrote on these artists (Outermost: The Life + Art of Jack Gaughan & Emshwiller: Infinity X Two ) give more details of their working life.

    • Thanks for stopping by! And for the insights…. It is frustrating that so much sci-fi art goes uncredited — I use the Internet Speculative Fiction Database for the artist info but often they don’t know either.

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