Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Models, Dolls, Mannequins

(David Davies’ cover for the 1968 edition of The Syndic (1953), C. M. Kornbluth)

Occasionally I dabble in the incredibly esoteric and artistically painful.  Apparently in the 60s and the early 70s — heralded by the artist David Davies — there was momentary interest in sci-fi covers constructed from manipulated photographs of store window mannequins, dolls, wire contraptions vaguely suggesting spaceships, toy spacemen, wooden artist mannequins dressed in clothes/wigs, and copyright violating models of the Star Trek: The Original Series Enterprise NCC-1701.

Unfortunately, most of the covers I’ve discovered are uncredited — they might all be the work of David Davies.  Internet Speculative Fiction Database has seventeen of his covers listed but I suspect that he made many many more — I’ve gone ahead and credited a few which are clearly his work.  These covers “graced” books by the greats (Frederik Pohl, Brian Aldiss, Robert Sheckley) and the not so great (R. L. Fanthorpe and William F. Temple) and were not only relegated to the second string presses.  The Ballantine editions are quite intriguing…

The majority elicit endless giggle fits — especially the obvious plagiarism of Star Trek in Galaxy 666 (1968).

Avoid if you suffer from pediophobia.



(Uncredited cover for the 1966 edition of Digits & Dastards (1966), Frederik Pohl)

(Uncredited cover for the 1966 edition of Slave Ship (1956 magazine publication), Frederik Pohl)

(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition of Galaxy 666 (1963), Pel Torro (i.e. R. L. Fanthorpe)

(David Davies’ cover for the 1974 edition of The Same To You Doubled (variant title: Can You Feel Anything When I Do This?) (1971), Robert Sheckley)

(David Davies’ cover for the 1968 edition of The Saliva Tree and Other Strange Growths (1966), Brian Aldiss)

(Uncredited cover for the 1967 edition of Shoot at the Moon (1966), William F. Temple)

(Uncredited cover for the 1966 edition of Shadow on the Hearth (1950), Judith Merril)

(David Davies’ cover for the 1967 edition of Needle in a Timestack (1966), Robert Silverberg)

(David Davies’ cover for the 1967 edition of Analogue Men (1962), Damon Knight)


(David Davies’ cover for the 1968 edition of Ten From Tomorrow (1966), E. C. Tubb)

For similar posts consult the INDEX

12 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Models, Dolls, Mannequins

  1. These are all pretty terrible (imho) except for the cover of The Same To You Doubled, which looks like a serious piece of modern sculpture. I have to admit I find it intriguing.

    • Hmm, that’s actually the one I found first — which spawned my interesting in tracking down his other works. It is quite interesting — not sure if it is Davies — perhaps I shouldn’t have attributed it to him. I wish that publishers were a little more willing to put a single sentence on the inside page “cover art by ____.”

  2. I think these are actually pretty well done when you consider how much labor in a dark room it used to take to create multiple exposures, and to get good macro shots with the old cameras. I always wanted to feature some on my old Cheap Science Fiction book covers blog. One of my favorites is “To Prime the Pump” by Bertram Chandler, 1971. It features a 1960’s G.I.Joe in silver spacesuit!

    • Definitely labor intensive (I’ve done some darkroom work as well) and some of them are quite intriguing. I have To Prime the Pump in my art archive — I completely forgot about it! But yes, it fits perfectly. Perhaps if I track down five more (or so) I’ll put together a part II.

      • Here’s a few to start with:
        Countercommandment (’67), & A World by the Tale (65) both by John Campbell; The People Trap (68) by Robt. Shecklley & New Stories From the Twilight Zone, Triple W, Devils and Demons, and especially Twilight Zone Revisited, all by Rod Serling. Thanx for taking over my SF covers “duty.” You’re doing great!

      • Thanks a bunch! If only I could find better quality images…. time to search the interwebs! It could be a while before a post is up — I have a few more groups of images to post first. I do find the concept of using models intriguing…. although the finished projects aren’t always my cup of tea.

Comment! Join the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.