Illustrators # 9 (magazine review)

December 29, 2015 | By | Reply More

As soon as I saw the cover of Illustrators # 9, I recognised the work of Bruce Pennington because it’s the cover of ‘Time, Space And Nathaniel’ by Brian Aldiss. It’s also one of the few times where I bought the book for the cover art but didn’t care for the stories (four of them) inside. Said art also graced the great ‘Science Fiction Monthly’ magazine from the 70s, too, and that’s where I learnt who painted it. A large part of this magazine is devoted to Pennington’s work and life story and even, after all this time, a few surprises. He was the first to paint the original NEL ‘Dune’ trilogy and the first two covers aren’t typically his work which is a lot finer but I suspect deadlines played a part in. Pennington admits in his later years, he’s not keen on tight deadlines. His work is also in gouache, a designer watercolour, layers of ink and varnish, making it even more remarkable because of his use of colour and nothing blending together.


Breaking into the industry after art college, Pennington’s break came from film poster work before being able to make the jump into book covers and becoming and in-demand artist, especially in our genre, covering (sic) not only SF but fantasy and horror. The variety of his book covers is breath-taking and if you’ve missed out on his work, then this magazine will put things into context. I suspect if you own SF books from the 70s-80s, then you will probably already have some in your collection, just not knowing who did them. He was the main cover artist in the UK for writers Brian Aldiss and Ray Bradbury, amongst others.

If you want something away from our genre, an examination of the art of Joanna Henly who has an eye for drawing women with pale shades is worth looking at and a demonstration that less can make it look better.

Just in case you think all the artists here are contemporary, lastly there is a look at the work of Eric R. Parker. If the name doesn’t sound too familiar, then you need to remember the private detective Sexton Blake. Long before Blake became an ITV children’s series starring Laurence Payne and Roger Foss in the 1960s-70s, Parker illustrated the series in ‘Union Jack’ magazine. The article here covers and shows a variety of other work he also did. From what is described, Parker could map out a design in his head and have drawn out very quickly without any necessity to change things. Very prolific and this made for a nice icing on the cake.

Although ‘Illustrators’ is an expensive quarterly magazine and this edition is a year old, it does step into our genre from time to time and it might pay you to pay attention to who they cover next. Looking at the paper quality and being squarebound, that means the magazine has a spine in case you didn’t know, explains its high price. If you are after editions, you might find it easier to buying directly off The Book Palace than through other sources in the UK and in the USA, via Bud Plant.

GF Willmetts

December 2015

(pub: The Book Palace, 2014. 98 page illustrated squarebound magazine. Price: £18.00 (UK), $21.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-907081-24-8. ISSN: 2052-6520

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Category: Illustration, Magazines, Scifi

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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