Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Original Science Fiction Artwork, Pt. 4

New additions to the Attic's collection of original science fiction art! For those who're interested, here are Parts 1, 2, and 3.

1. "Tales of Time and Space," by Tom Nachreiner. 21" x 26". 1976. Gouache on board.

Truth is, I don't know a hell of a lot about Tom Nachreiner. He seems to have done a lot of work outside of the science fiction genre; in fact, there's no listing of him in Jane Frank's Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists of the Twentieth Century, the premier guide to genre artists. Strange. Oh well. I like a good mystery.

The painting was done as the cover for an anthology published in 1976 by Golden Press called Tales of Time and Space. It's a great piece of Seventies sf art; it's organic and fluid and strange, with bold colors and  a trippy series of images pulled directly from the stories themselves. A little later than I tend to collect, but there's just no denying the quality of the painting. Hey, older, newer -- cool is cool!

Two close up details of the painting.

What's particularly fascinating is that the painting came with the book cover's mechanical -- the package of sheets used to paste up cover elements like the title, publisher, book description, etc. I also received at copy of the book straight from the printer's files. Taken together, these pieces help illustrate the process by which a painting becomes a book cover. As a book collector, this is exactly the kind of thing that sends me over the moon.

The outer cover of the package containing the cover's mechanical. The letter taped to the front is the job order, and lists what elements will be delivered by the printer. 

The first layer of the mechanical. Tissue is laid down and on it is written various color guides.

The next layer down is an acetate overlay. The cover's text is laid down here, all carefully within the safety margins. 

The cover itself. This is a file copy, and the handwritten notes are from the printer.

Now, if I can just figure out how to display it all...


  1. this is a dream come true man !!! how many of these original ilustrations do u hav ??? i’m trying to get at least 1 original work & it doesn’t matter if is a well-known artist or a totally unknown, provided that his/her job is to my taste... i know that this kind of stuff could b really expensive... =O

  2. I've got 12 pieces of original illustration art, all but two of which have been published in some form (either covers or interiors). Some of it was kind of pricey, I'll admit, but a lot of it was surprisingly affordable. Dealers tend to charge a premium, but auction houses and eBay sometimes provide really good deals. One of my favorite pieces was something like $75.

    Unpublished pieces by unknown artists are usually even less expensive. There are lots of science fiction fans out there who are great painters but haven't gotten their big break yet. Sometimes they contribute to 'zines or web sites, sometimes they're just painting for their friends and relatives. Try going to science fiction conventions -- many of them display their art there. You could end up walking home with a brand new discovery, the Next Big Thing. What's more, you could do it for just a few bucks. You never know.

    Just keep hunting. It's out there!

  3. Not to date myself, but seeing the mechanical really brought back some pre-computer memories, though it would have given my instructors nightmares seeing it taped to the front of the illustration like that. I have an idea for how to display it, might be pricey and involve some work, but a frame could be constructed with hinged glass panels, you then sandwich the mechanical overlays in between glass and use the hinges to expose the different layers... does that make sense. Basically if there are three pieces it's like three frames fastened together with hinges and the two top frames in the layers would have two pieces of glass each, front and back.

  4. I remember the pre-computer paste up days, too. I can't say I'm too nostalgic for them...

    The layers of the mechanical came taped together like that, so I'm hesitant to separate them. Who am I to mess with the historical record, right? So while I like your idea, I don't think I can do it.

    My current plan is to either keep the mechanical in a shallow, acid-free box, to be brought out whenever anyone expresses interest, or to put it in a shadow box without a glass front. This way it'll be mounted on the wall, and people can flip through it if they choose.

    Right now, due to space considerations, I'm leaning towards the archival box...

    The painting, of course, is going to hang proudly on my wall in a nice matte and frame.


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