A Delicate Language
Frank Rudolph Paul (1884 – 1963)
October Birthday News
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:
To view a large gallery of his works visit: http://www.frankwu.com/paul1.html
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
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