(Irving Freeman and Mark Rubin’s cover for the 1st ed. of The Sheep Look Up (1972), John Brunner)
John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up (1972) would easily make my top fifteen SF novels of the 1970s—it’s far better than anything else he produced in the decade, although some might argue that The Shockwave Rider (1975) comes close. Other than the novel’s unforgettable power, the first edition cover by Irving Freeman and Mark Rubio for Harper & Row remains seared in my memory. The 1973 Ballantine first edition paperback also used the same art.
The harrowing nature of the story, decaying bodies/pollution, matches perfectly the ram-horned figures on human torsos, gas masks upturned… The distance to the horizon line, rendered via black horizontal lines, results in smaller and smaller forms, all in the same posture, waiting for the end.
As I’ve been thinking of the The Sheep Look Up lately (for obvious reasons), I decided to investigate the back catalogues of the artists. They only made one additional credited cover together—the 1973 edition of An Alien Heat (1972) by Michael Moorcock (below)—and then embarked on short careers separately. Mark Rubin’s covers tended to focus more on image while Irving Freeman’s are poor explorations of font (for example, Jem below). Unfortunately, none are intriguing or memorable — although Mark Rubin’s cover for the 1978 edition Science Fiction: Contemporary Mythology: The SFWA-SFRA Anthology (1978), ed. Patricia Warrick, Martin Harry Greenberg, and Joseph Olander comes close.
The Sheep Look Up cover, a work of genius, easily eclipses their other SF experiments.
A spectacular work of graphic design!
For more Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art consult the INDEX
(Irving Freeman and Mark Rubin’s cover for the 1973 edition of An Alien Heat (1972), Michael Moorcock)
(Mark Rubin’s cover for the 1974 edition of The Hollow Lands (1974), Michael Moorcock)
(Mark Rubin’s cover for the 1978 edition Science Fiction: Contemporary Mythology: The SFWA-SFRA Anthology (1978), ed. Patricia Warrick, Martin Harry Greenberg, and Joseph Olander)
(Irving Freeman’s cover for the 1979 edition of Jem (magazine serialization 1978), Frederik Pohl)
(Irving Freeman’s cover for the 1976 edition of Faces in the Flames: Fourth in a Series of Small Wars (1976), Peter Tate)