Monday, January 10, 2011

Wonderworks by Michael Whelan

I have always been a fan of science fiction artists.  My love of sf art began with the magazines.  Looking at the great book covers and magazine art inspired me.  Just looking at them would transport me to other worlds.  One of my favorites is Michael Whelan.  

I never spent the money on any of the art books.  When a friend (a big thank you to Terry Kissinger) gave me a Borders gift card for Christmas, I knew it was time to start a collection of these books.

The first one to arrive was Wonderworks by Michael Whelan.  Just leafing through the pages took me back to the days I spent reading the books he illustrated.  Some of my favorites are included.  

How can you not appreciate the series of covers he did for Ace's Poul Anderson series?  One of the lesser known covers still stands out in my mind.  It is the cover from World Without Stars.
The striking colors of the campfire lit protagonist surrounded by the rabbit like aliens with the galaxy in the background stands out.  Whelan comments that the colors were too dark but it is a haunting image that has stayed with me since the first time I saw it in 1977.  I have not read the book since that first time.  In my mind, I have always ranked it high on my list of Poul Anderson books.  Sometimes, I wonder if part of the reason is the excellent cover.

 Whelan's cover for Clifford Simak's classic City collection was one that I don't remember seeing before this collection.  I do not know how I missed this one when it first appeared.

Among the other images that took me back to the days of yesteryear were the Elric and Morgaine series' covers.  I bet if you look through this collection, Michael Whelan's art will bring back good memories for you.


Carl V. said...

Wonderful! I'll have to look for that one. I have a large, hardback book called The Art of Michael Whelan that I bought off ebay a few years back that is sensational, though there is still a lot of his art that is not in that book that I would love to see in a quality art book. Not sure if you've ever had a chance to look through any of the Spectrum art books, or the Fenner's art books for people like Frank Frazetta, but I sincerely wish they would do a comprehensive series of books on Michael Whelan, published through Underwood Books. They are such high quality books and Whelan is deserving of that kind of treatment.

There are many Whelan covers which have haunted me, in a good way, since my childhood, one being the cover for Foundation's Edge, the other the cover of the beautiful red head on Second Foundation. It was these covers that caused me to finally go ahead and read the Foundation trilogy for the first time.

Whelan's covers for ERB's John Carter of Mars series are fantastic, only eclipsed by those of Frank Frazetta. His cover for the first volume of Jonathan Strahan's anthology series Eclipse is also great.

There are sooo many Whelan images that I can think of that have caused me to just stop and stare and dream.

Ryan said...

These picks are great. I'm actually reminded of some of the early sci-fi/fantasy artwork I got into, which started off with ElfQuest. Lately, I've seen that minimalist art is all the rage, like on Leonid Korogodski's new novel, Pink Noise. It looks like something that's more attuned to 60's sci-fi than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Possibly my all time favorite cover artist!

I think my first encounter with Mr. Whelan's artwork was the cover to 'Little Fuzzy' and the re-issues of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern novels. I requested a special print from his company Glass Onion Graphics of the cover to 'The Silicon Mage' once and he wrote me back saying that the original was available if i was interested. 'sigh' being a college student there was absolutely NO WAY I could afford that and the parentals wouldn't float me a loan for something as trivial as that...@_@

Lord's I wish had just sold my car and went for it!!!

Carl, i'll check it's quite possible that i've got 2 copies of this book, if so i'd be more than happy to send it to you.

Carl V. said...

That would be wonderful! Thank you so much.

I wish prints were available, at a more reasonable price, for Whelan's works. There are some I would love to have hanging up in my home or office.