Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Dark Depths and Haunting Layers of Michel Jakubowski


(Fiction 114, May 1963)

Whenever it is Philippe Curval’s birthday I am pulled back into the fascinating world of French SF cover art–in particular the magazine Fiction, which, during its early years, had an utterly different aesthetic than anything found on American magazines. As I desperately want to read his novels (the vast majority remain untranslated), I can only enjoy the magazine covers he created in the 50s (Part I and Part I of my series on his photocollages).

This is all to say, I have chosen another lesser known artist for Fiction to showcase, Michel Jakubowski. This post which continues a loose series I’ve cobbled together on Adventures in French Science Fiction Cover Art (list below). I cannot find any information on him online. Perhaps he’s related to the more famous French SF author and editor Maxim Jakubowski? I don’t know — please let me know if you uncover anything more.

Michel Jakubowski created nine covers for Fiction between 1962 and 1966. The first six show remarkable moodiness, and dark layers… In many ways, similar to equally fascinating textures and patinas of Philippe Jean. Fiction 114 evokes a pond at night, with the sharp edges of plants arrayed in a reddish moonlight. While human figures climbs out of a shadowy orifice in Fiction 115. And in my favorite of the function, Fiction 120, the dead body of a lizard (?) lies in the sand against a mysterious backdrop.

What is your favorite? As with so many artists for Fiction, I wish they were more productive. And perhaps they were for other genres.

Enjoy!

Note: Curval’s Prix de Apollo-winning novel Cette chère humanité (1976) was translated in 1981 as Brave New World but still remains out of reach as it costs a pretty penny online (more than $35 if it has its gorgeous Max Ernst cover jacket!). A few of his short stories have also appeared translated in American collections over the years. Here is a link to his extensive bibliography (~19 novels and ~100 short stories).

(Fiction 109, December 1962)

(Fiction 115, June 1963)

(Fiction 120, November 1963)

(Fiction 126, May 1964)

(Fiction 132, November 1964)

(Fiction 148, March 1966)

(Fiction 151, June 1966)

(Fiction 157, December 1966)

Other Adventures in French Science Fiction Art entries

Otherworldly Textures and the Patina of Decay (The SF Art of Philippe Jean)

French comic book style 70s SF art by Serge Clerc

Lacroix’s Delicate Lines and Mutations (60s/70s covers for the French SF Magazine Fiction)

1970s Covers for La Grande Anthologie de la Science-Fiction (Robots, The End of the World, Aliens, etc)

The Uncanny Bodies of Wojtek Siudmak

Philippe Curval’s 1950s Photo Collages, Part I

Philippe Curval’s 1950s Photo Collages, Part II

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For more Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art consult the INDEX

10 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Dark Depths and Haunting Layers of Michel Jakubowski”

    1. His style completely changes between 1964 and 1966 — I am not really a fan of the last three he created….

      But yes, that’s why I like them — I’m all for deep, dark, scary layers! Especially with small details — the lizard body, the humanoid form, etc.

      Do you have a favorite?

      1. If I had to pick one, it’d be the cover of #132. I don’t know what is supposed to be happening, but I like that I see a variety of possibilities. An egg? A cave? Some spiders? A heart? It’s like one of those two faces/candlestick things, except instead of two faces and a candlestick, it’s something horrifyingly organic and something horrifyingly chthonic.

    1. You might notice that all these Fiction covers had a very limited color scheme allowed (two colors — one is always black, and then shades of that color). However, a lot of the time, it’s a limitation that yields some fascinating results…. For example, a focus on neat linework — > Claude Lacroix (https://sciencefictionruminations.com/2017/02/25/adventures-in-science-fiction-cover-art-lacroixs-delicate-lines-and-mutations-covers-for-french-sf-magazine-fiction/)

  1. This has just been brought to my attention. Michel is NOT related but nevertheless a good friend and we are still in touch. I can connect you if you wish; he does not speak English but his wife is an English teacher so no communication problem. And, by the way, I was never French; just lived there for some years. Michel also did some covers for New Worlds in the Moorcock digest years… You can reach me at maxim.jakubowski@gmail.com

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