Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

A network like ours must have its own gallery of Frank R. Paul's covers and illustrations.

Let us begin with Amazing Stories, the first English-language science fiction magazine, founded by Hugo Gernsback in 1926. By the way, Gernsback, an inventor, writer and entrepreneur, coined the term "science fiction" (he preferred to call the genre "scientifiction" but the public failed to share his choice). In April 1908 he founded Modern Electrics, the world's first magazine about electronics. Under its auspices, in January 1909, he founded the Wireless Association of America, which had 10,000 members within a year. In 1912, Gernsback said that he estimated 400,000 people in the U.S. were involved in amateur radio.

In 1913, he founded a similar magazine, The Electrical Experimenter, which became Science and Invention in 1920. It was in these magazines that he began including scientific fiction stories alongside science journalism. Since 1914, Gernsback emloyed an illustrator whose name was Frank R. Paul:

Paul contributed to Gernsback's magazines, mostly drawing monochrome illustrations:

In the Amazing Stories he became the cover artist, shaping the genre of sci-fi art. He painted 38 covers for the magazine from April 1926 to June 1929 and seven for the Amazing Stories Annual and Quarterly.

These visions of robots, spaceships, and aliens were presented to an America wherein most people did not even own a telephone. Indeed, they were the first science fiction images seen by Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Forrest J Ackerman and others who would go on to great prominence in the field.

He also continued with monochrome graphics, providing illustrations to Gernsback's Ralph 124C 41+:

and to the classic novels and stories, repinted in the Amazing, like Robur the Conqueror by Jules Verne:

His last Amazing Stories cover was printed in 1929:

After Gernsback lost control of Amazing Stories in 1929, Paul followed him to the magazines Air Wonder Stories, Science Wonder Stories, and Wonder Stories and the associated quarterlies, which published 103 of his color covers from June 1929 to April 1936. It's a wonder story by itself, soon to be told here. But in 1939 the artist returned to the Amazing (that changed hands and editors) to create back covers depicting the extra-terrestrial life:

There is a complete collection of Amazing Stories covers on the Web. Sadly, most of the images are of low quality. Frank Wu's website dedicated to Frank R. Paul is an excellent guide. Quality, alas, leaves a lot to be desired.

I did my best to bring you the highest resolution possible and vivid colors, searching for high-res scans all over the Internets. Most of the images come from the wonderful Golden Age Comic Book Stories blog, others from public sales.

There are 65 paintings and drawings in the album. Browse it - or enjoy the slideshow:

Find more photos like this on Dieselpunks

There's more to come!

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Comment by Piper Williams on December 20, 2010 at 5:17pm

..these are incredible!

Comment by lord_k on December 20, 2010 at 10:36am

Yeah, the future never was more colorful (greedy Gernsback didn't want to pay for four-color printing, that's why!).

Comment by Larry on December 20, 2010 at 10:06am

Man, I love retro-futurism. In so many way's it's a shame the future didn't end up looking as the futurists envisioned.

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