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October 2008

October 2008 -- Leaves

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  • Myths and Symbols:
    A Delicate Language
  • Artist Spotlight:
    Frank Rudolph Paul (1884 1963)
  • Behind the Art:
    Watercolor Materials
  • Wombat Droppings:
    Burnout
  • EMG News:
    October Birthday News

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  • Painting Process Walkthrough for Hide and Seek

    Fiction

  • Poem: Joyous Heart Beating
  • Fiction: Take It Or Leaf It

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  • Tomb of the King: Kelsar, Pt 3
  • Falheria: Leaves


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  • Frank Rudolph Paul (1884 1963)
    Artist Spotlight
    by Giovanna Adams

    Frank Rudolph Paul (April 18, 1884 - June 29, 1963) was an illustrator of science fiction pulp magazines. He was born in Vienna, Austria, and spent the later part of his life in Teaneck, New Jersey.(1) He was influential in defining what both cover art and interior illustrations in the nascent science fiction pulps of the 1920s looked like.(2) Frank's work was characterized by compositions involving large machines, robots, spaceships and bright colors. His early architectural training is also evident in his work.

    Among his credits, Paul painted thirty-eight covers for Amazing Stories between 1926 and 1929, and seven for the Amazing Stories Annual and Quarterly. Several dozen additional issues featured his art on the back cover, several issues between 1961 and 1968 featured new or reproduced art. Air Wonder Stories, Science Wonder Stories, and Wonder Stories and the associated quarterlies published 103 of his color covers between 1929 and 1936. Paul also painted covers for Planet Stories, Superworld Comics, Science Fiction Magazine, and the first issue (1939) of Marvel Comics. This last item featured the debuts of Human Torch and Sub-Mariner. (3)

    His visions of robots, spaceships, and aliens were presented to an America wherein most people did not even own a telephone. They were the first science fiction images seen by Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Forrest J Ackerman and others who would go on to great prominence in the field.

    His cover for the November 1929 issue of Science Wonder Stories was an early, if not the earliest, depiction of a flying saucer.(4) This painting appeared almost two decades before the sightings of mysterious flying objects by Kenneth Arnold.

    His most famous Amazing Stories cover from August 1927 illustrated H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds. Skeptical physicist Milton Rothman even thought that this image was at least partially responsible for the post-war UFO craze. He wrote:

    "One of the results of a long and checkered career is the accumulation of assorted information, most of which does me no good. However, during this summer's flap over the fiftieth anniversary of the Roswell incident, I realized how my adolescent interest in science fiction aided my later career as a skeptical physicist. One of the very first science fiction magazines I ever looked at was the November 1929 issue of Wonder Stories, published by the legendary Hugo Gernsback. The cover of this magazine shows a spaceship that looks like a giant Frisbee, clutching in its tentacles a dwarfed Woolworth building. The cover was painted by Frank R. Paul, an artist whose skill at depicting scientifically advanced marvels set the style for the science fiction of the decade.

    "An earlier issue of the same magazine (August 1929) shows on the cover a spaceship shaped like a giant soup bowl. Clearly, Paul enjoyed depicting space vehicles with shapes other than the conventional torpedo. This style was adopted by other artists. Just the other day I was poring through microfilms of The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin from 1936, on the trail of historical information concerning the Democratic National Convention of that year. Along the way I observed that the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century comic strip showed Buck cavorting about in a spaceship shaped just like a saucer. Paul's influence had rippled out over the years.

    "The point is that the idea of space vehicles shaped like flying saucers was imprinted in the national psyche for many years prior to 1947, when the Roswell incident took place. It didn't take much stretching for the first observers of UFOs to assume that the unknown objects hovering in the sky had the same disk shape as the science fictional vehicles. It is nice to know that science fiction has had such a profound influence on society, but sometimes I wish it were not quite so profound." (5)

    To view a large gallery of his works visit: http://www.frankwu.com/paul1.html

    Notes

    1) "Frank R. Paul Dead; Illustrator Was 79", New York Times: p. 56, June 30, 1963

    2) Jon Gustafson and Peter Nicholls, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, ed. John Clute and Peter Nicholls, 1993, St. Martin's Press, N.Y.

    3) November 1929 Science Wonder Stories http://www.frankwu.com/Paul-8.html

    4) The Science Fiction Roll of Honor, ed. Frederik Pohl, 1975, Random House, New York, pp. 223-227

    5) http://www.frankwu.com/Paul-8.html



    Giovanna Adams
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