Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Vaguely Defined Looming Man Shape

stewart01

(John Richard’s cover for the 1961 edition of Earth Abides (1949), George R. Stewart)

Note: if anyone can identify the artist for the first three downright spectacular covers I’d be very very happy.  I’m positive that they match stylistically (the vague human shape, the cityscape, the brush strokes, the textures).  Two of the three covers were made for Signet press and all three are from the early 1960s.  I suspect if I perused the covers from the Signet catalogue from that era I’d find even more….  Perhaps it’s the work of Sanford Kossin?  He was producing covers for Signet around the same time.  Solved: The cover artist is John Richard.

And now The Vaguely Defined Looming Man Shape (TVDLMS for short)….  TVDLMS is often some embodiment of heroic transformation — perhaps the hero evolves into a deity or a normal man transforms into a hero!  Or, the TVDLMS embodies the force that confronts the hero.  TVDLMS, commonly depicted nude, is always as the title suggests, vaguely defined.  For the most hilarious “smudges” over genital regions peruse the often cringeworthy Jack Faragasso covers below…

As I indicated above, the first three covers  — the uncredited cover for the 1961 edition of Earth Abides (1949), the uncredited cover for the 1960 edition of The Status Civilization (1960), and the uncredited cover for the 1964 edition of Starswarm (1964) — are my favorites.

Although, as always, Richard Powers’ cover for the 1958 edition of C. L. Moore’s Doomsday Morning (1957) nears the power of his best work.  I also have a soft spot for the uncredited cover for the 1957 edition of Frank M. Robinson’s The Power (1956).

Are any of the books worth reading?

What are your favorites?

Enjoy!

THSTTSCVLZ1960

(Uncredited cover for the 1960 edition of The Status Civilization (1960), Robert Sheckley)

STRSWRMMBN1964

(Uncredited cover for the 1964 edition of Starswarm (1964), Brian Aldiss)

ASF_0122

(Hubert Roger’s cover for the 1941 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction, ed. John W. Campbell, Jr.)

FNLBLCKTRV1970

(Nick Gallaway’s cover for the 1970 edition of The Final Blackout (1940), L. Ron Hubbard)

FRMTHLNDFF1973

(O’Brien’s cover for the 1973 edition of From the Land of Fear (1967), Harlan Ellison)

GNTSNLSHDH1965

(Uncredited cover for the 1965 edition of Giants Unleashed (1965), ed. Groff Conklin)

MPRFTHTMJS1978

(Joe Petagno’s cover for the 1978 edition of Empire of the Atom (1957), A. E. Van Vogt)

MSHLBRKDTN1972

(Jack Faragasso’s cover for the 1972 edition of Ames Holbrook, Deity (1972), Charles W. Runyon)

MSTRMNDFMR1972-1

(Uncredited cover for the 1972 edition of Master Mind of Mars (1927), Edgar Rice Burroughs)

NTNRKMMRTL1969

(Jack Faragasso’s cover for the 1969 edition of Anton York, Immortal (1967), Eando Binder)

powers_doomsday-morning

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1958 edition of Doomsday Morning (1957), C. L. Moore)

Screen shot 2011-10-04 at 2.17.06 AM

(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1971 edition of The Herod Men (1971), Nick Kamin)

Screen shot 2011-12-14 at 5.43.36 PM

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1953 edition of World Out of Mind (1953), J. T. M’Intosh)

Screen shot 2012-03-14 at 3.38.00 PM

(Uncredited cover for the 1970 edition of Positive Charge (1970), Walt and Leigh Richmond)

Screen shot 2012-11-21 at 2.02.36 PM

(Uncredited cover for the 1957 edition of The Power (1956), Frank M. Robinson)

(Jack Faragasso’s cover for the 1970s? cover of The Reassembled Man (1964), Herbert D. Kastle)

THDPQZFTCR1976

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1976 edition of The Deep (1975), John Crowley)

THSLPTRSQB1969

(Jack Faragasso’s cover for the 1969 edition of The Sleep Eaters (1963), John Lymington)

TWHNDRDMLL1971

(Uncredited cover for the 1971 edition of Two Hundred Million A.D. (variant title: The Book of Ptath) (1943), A. E. Van Vogt)

TWS54-fal(Jack Coggins’ cover for the Fall 1954 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories, ed. Alexander Samalman)

THDBLMNLCF1971

(Jack Faragasso’s cover for the 1971 edition of The Double Man (1971), Eando Binder)

For similar posts consult the INDEX

19 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Vaguely Defined Looming Man Shape”

  1. The first three almost look like Jerome Podwil’s work, but I’m not sure. His work is really underrated in my opinion, I like it almost as much as Powers, though it is usually a bit harder for me to identify. He did a lot of covers for Westerns that are also good.

    I especially like the ‘Giants Unleashed’ and ‘The Power’ covers, they really show off the time period of their publication. And ‘The World out of Mind’ is a superior Powers cover, I had never seen that one before.

    This is a great selection here!

  2. I do agree, it’s almost Podwil, but not quite right. It’s as if someone was trying to copy that style. But even if that’s the case, all three are very good.

    Podwil covers are usually harder to find than Powers! I have to rely on the internet now, rarely see too many older paperbacks in the used bookstores anymore!

      1. I’m pretty sure The Bridge is a Podwil cover. The closest I have are some uncredited covers that look like Podwil, but are probably not his work. Like you say, Kossin is very similar so they’re most likely his work.

      1. That is a good one! i do like his earlier work from the 60’s better than the later ones from the mid to late 70’s when his style changed a bit to be more representational.

  3. The PB cover for Crichton’s “The Andromeda Strain” probably also fits in this category, redacted male nudity and all:

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