I’m rather rushed this week, and so I thought I’d devote this post to an artist often overlooked in fine art circles, Hannes Bok. Born Wayne Woodard in 1914, he spent most of his career illustrating stories for science fiction and fantasy magazines, as well as writing a few stories himself. His pseudonym was an homage to Johan Sebastian Bach; the luminous colors of his paintings came from his use of thin oil glazes, a technique he learned from Maxfield Parrish. The bold, bright colors adapted well to commercial printing, and editor’s desire to have cover art be eye-catching on the newsstand. For much of his career Bok was criminally underpaid, and died (1964) in relative obscurity, except for a devoted following among SF and fantasy fans.
It has always been my assertion that all books and stories in magazines should be illustrated, and having seen the work of many fine illustrators – whether it be John Leech’s cartoon-like drawings for A Christmas Carol, Lynd Ward’s amazing work for Frankenstein, or Bok’s own drawings and paintings – my sentiment remains undiminished. Although the modern tendency is to illustrate with a vague collage that suggests the mood of the story, I prefer images which directly engage a particular scene or character. I’m old-fashioned that way, I guess.
I’m sorry I don’t have dates or attributions for these images; I’ll add them as I run across them.