I've loads in my library, I try to get original cover editions wherever possible because second print editions covers tend to be bland rehashes of popular film or tv art. I find the ones like used to grace the covers of astounding magazine (which later became Analog) truly inspiring because the artist was encouraged to read the stories and base his / her art based on it.
if you want any photographed let me know, I've almost a full collection of amazing wonder stories (hugo gernsback, editor) the later amazing mag then the famous (infamous) analog mag. I have most editions of Omni too but they currently reside at my wifes place in the fire safe.
Foss-style 70s sci-fi paperbacks were the first thing that sprang to mind when I saw this image, you've really captured the character of them here. I have to say that those old novel covers were (still are) a huge inspiration to me too.
I really love those classic covers - it's probably why I became an artist. The paperback covers I saw as a kid were my first window into a larger, more amazing world - one I try and escape to as often as possible!
I know what ya mean about the book covers. It's funny, but I don't think I realized how much they impacted me (and how much the format has changed/devolved in recent years) until I saw their influence come out (subconsciously) in my own work. And now I find myself pining for that golden age of John Berkey, Michael Whelan, Wayne Barlowe, David Mattingly, Vincent Di Fate, et al. To me Rick Sternbach was always just an "SF book cover artist who fell into the lure of a steady paycheck". Loved Rick's work on Niven's covers and some of the Heinlein works, back in the late 70's. It seems like one of the few working cover illustrators who preserves "the old ways" is Bob Eggleton.... though even his work is more scarce than it once was on paperbacks.
*sigh* - I loved those Niven covers too! These are strange times - dare I say "interesting" times. Like you, I find myself gravitating back to the things I loved back in the day.
My experience of those long -gone days was one of discovering little "gems" - like a cool new paperback - that bonded themselves into my psyche, never to be forgotten. These days, it seems the trend is driven by prolonged anticipation of this or that movie or game coming out - sometimes for years in advance. Once the movie/game/comic/whatever is actually - finally - out, the long cultivated mass infatuation vanishes like a patch of morning mist. Then it's on to the next upcoming media buzz, and so on and so on...
Very curious... it feels very hollow... So pardon me while I dust off that copy of (for example) "Star Trek 8" (with the amazing Lou Feck illustration) and gaze once again at the amazing brushstrokes that have lost none of their power in the decades since I first laid eyes on them!
Yep - that Trek 8 cover is my favorite of that original batch. It wasn't "100% accurate", but it was so beautiful and inspiring... and was accurate enough for my tastes. And over the years it's the one that burned deepest into my gray matter.
BTW, did you even see Sternbach's original for Neutron Star? It's cropped from the production version, but he painted this big ole housefly sitting on the border of the painting. It was included on the art print version... which was still beyond my budget back then. But I remember really losing myself in Rick's Niven covers as it was clear he understood (and was thrilled by) what he was illustrating.
I know it makes me sound like Grampa Simpson, but another neat thing about hunting out paperbacks in the 70's was that... well, you really HAD to hunt! No store carried everything and stock would vary wildly. There was no Amazon.com where, if it existed, you could just order it and it'd be in your mail box in a couple of days. Browsing bookshelves back then was like treasure hunting - especially when you'd find a dusty copy of book that was out of print and had been sitting in the shelf's shadows for a couple of years! And hey - it was a source of exercise as it kept me riding my bike all over town, going from store to store, newsstand to newsstand, looking for literary gold!
We had a very small book store in my home town, and at the back there was a single rack of science fiction paperbacks. And that rack held treasure, both in the cover art and the stories contained in those books.
I think at this point the shift to digital publishing is undeniable, but it's hard to say what this ultimately means in terms of the fate of illustrated book covers. Science fiction and fantasy have been the last bastions of illustration in the publishing world. But with the closing of Vroman's and the general decline of the book stores in favor of online shopping and e-books, I wonder if the role of the book cover - to attract the reader's eye - is still relevant.
I think part of the reason (quite possibly the MAIN reason) for the enormous influx of people wanting to work as concept artists is the dying-out of most of the traditional markets for illustration. I can certainly think of no other reason for it, except that art has no place else left to go. A hundred years ago, art and illustration were everywhere, not only on books but on packaging, calenders, candy boxes, billboards, the list is endless. At present, the only real outlet for most art and illustration is the web, and sites like DA - and of course none of that affords actual income.
When I was starting out, relatively few artists were interested in concept art, since by its very nature it is utilitarian, and the art is most often seen only by a handful of people engaged in whatever the project was. It's still true that 99% of concept art (professional, paid stuff, that is) is never seen anywhere. So it's a bit perplexing that so many artists would decide they want to do that unless there's an economic imperative serving as the main driver. That's my theory at least!
In a nutshell - I think we may be in the midst of another "golden age of illustration" - but one that is occurring almost entirely online, and almost exclusively within the community of artists themselves, while the general public and culture at large inhabits a world increasingly dominated by "media" and barren of art.
Hm. That's a real interesting observation, about the "new Golden Age". It really speaks to the fact that most of us who do art do it for passion. Even if there's no money to be made, we still need to pull these things from our heads and realize them visually. It's like singing... or talking... or even breathing. The volume, quality, and scope of art on site's like this are staggering... and inspiring. It makes me feel like my pre-cyber life was lived in a significant art vacuum.
I too have wondered if e-books are the tombstone to the paperback cover art form. However it's an art that was already in ill-health, I feel. Still, I'd be sad to see it vanish all together. I read a few e-books, but for the most part I still value having that printed volume I can hold in my hands, study, and really feel. And I love going through my shelves, plucking down a book, and studying (for the Nth time) an illustrative (and marketing) masterwork.
On the macro-level of things, the internet may very well spell the end of most of the traditional "revenue streams" of not only books, but movies, games, comics, and whatever else you care to name.
I know for a fact the movie studios are quietly starting to panic since it looks like the online streaming of movies will in no way duplicate the revenue from theatrical release and DVD sales. Netflix attempted to raise their subscription costs, and had to roll it back when subscribers started jumping ship in droves.
Do the math - 10 dollars a month for streaming dozens of films, versus 20-30 dollars for the sale of a single DVD, or 8-10 dollars for a single ticket sale. And that seems to be the effective ceiling of tolerance regarding price. People expect stuff online to be either free, or very inexpensive.
Where this will end is anybody's guess - but the landscape is being rewritten as we speak (or type)!
Well, if there's an upside it's that we won't be hostage to hardware formats any longer...
If you wanted to watch quality movies in the early seventies, you had to see a 35mm print. If you wanted to watch quality movies in the early eighties, you had to have a four-head VCR (and if you bought a Beta Max, then you were screwed). If you wanted to watch quality movies in the early nineties, you had to have a laser disc player. If you wanted to watch quality movies in the early oughts, you had to have a DVD player. If you wanted to watch quality movies in 2011, you have to have a BluRay player.