Sunday, March 7, 2010

Maidens And Monsters

There is a very lucky private collector in Central Florida. Stephen D. Korshak, a 57 year old Florida attorney has a wonderful collection of original artwork from the pulp era of science fiction. While my wife and I are down here in Orlando for Megacon, we took the time to see the part of his collection that is on display at the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens in Winter Park, FL for their Maidens and Monsters: The Art of Science Fiction, Adventure and Fantasy art exhibit.

This is a collection of 80 years of original pulp magazine art, both cover and interior, along with several book jacket illustrations. It included works by Frank Frazetta, Hannes Bok, N.C. Wyeth, Margaret Brundage, Frank R. Paul, Richards Powers, Micheal Whelan, Frank Kelly Freas, Virgil Finlay, J. Allen St. John, Ed Emsh, and many more.

Along with their works was a brief history about the artist, where they succeeded and how they faded into obscurity. Laid out was the process used to create what was one of the more vivant images in the collection (before the inks used faded) and the cover jacket from the book that was still unfaded. In the case of L. Ron Hubbard’s SLAVES OF SLEEP, the artist used four different plates to produce the color image. One for the red, yellow and blue separately then he followed those up with a black plate. It was the red paint that had faded off the original artwork, it is still visible on the book jacket displayed.

It was also interesting to look at the original works of Margaret Bondage and the magazine covers they were placed on and see the changes the magazine editors made to the artwork. Margaret worked in nudes.

You could definitely see in this collection the way the solar system had been imaged in the thirties, forties, and early fifties. Frazetta depicted John Carter bravely battling on the surface of Mars, Hannes Bok had his tourists striding forth on airless moons with space suits sporting vacation style hats on the cover of MARVEL SCIENCE FICTION (1951 SF magazine), and Virgil Finlay’s The Golden City appeared on the cover of FAMOUS FANTASTIC MAGAZINE.

This was the golden age for publishing science fiction. Not only was anything possible in the universe, but there were several monthly magazines that were bringing you these ideas. We had ASTOUNDING (now ANALOG) and FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION but there was also: WEIRD TALES, AMAZING, WONDER STORIES, MARVEL SCIENCE FICTION, FAMOUS FANTASTIC MAGAZINE, and PLANET STORIES to name a few of them. This was the era of the short story as the avenue into our future, today it is the novel. Is one better than the other? Not really, though up until the advent of the e-book readers, I could carry more stories in one magazine than in book form.

Maidens and Monsters will be at the Albin Polasek Museum until April 18, 2010 if you happen to be in the Orlando area before then. If not, consider asking the fans in your area if there is a collector who also has such wonderful artwork and see if there is a way they can be displayed at a local convention. ConQuesT has done this effective with Frank Kelly Freas’ work. Science fiction from the golden age on is our heritage, we should make an effort to look to the past when we are looking to the future.

Join us at OSFest 3, where we will be talking about Fanzines, fan publications of fiction, commentary, and letters, from both a historical and current perspective.


  1. We as a society have lost so much when these books went away. Were they replaced by movies, novels, and the internet? I don't think so. The route to getting published is, in many ways easier, however the path to getting read is harder then ever before.