Sunday, September 25, 2011

Moon Crawler

Although I knew that some of Dad’s pictures inspired certain other things, I didn’t realize that one of his early science fiction covers seems to have inspired a toy or two. So I was happy to share some background information and sketches with the blogger who alerted me. Now, prepare for liftoff to Moonbase Central.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pulp Fiction: Trapped

Like many young illustrators of his generation, John Schoenherr did whatever hack work he could find after leaving art school. So, while his science fiction and natural history output gradually gained steam, dozens of his early pieces wound up in obscure, lurid “men’s magazines”. Often uncredited or pseudonymous, these pictures were typical of the genre: violent, bloody, and bosomy. Such as this cover from Trapped Detective Story Magazine for October 1959.

Feature Publications’ Trapped lasted for all of 34 issues. Its partner in crime was Guilty Detective Story Magazine and, according to Galactic Central, “Both determined to show that the spirit of the 1940s detective pulp magazines was still alive and well in the 1950s, albeit in a digest format.”

Schoenherr’s files for this phase of his career are far from complete, so there must be more illustrations out there, waiting to be identified. His reference photos might provide some clues, however: it’s just a matter of matching poses to magazine pictures. The following set, for example, was taken on March 19, 1959, for the Trapped cover.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One Day on Beetle Rock

I’m embarrassed to say that, until yesterday, I’d never before seen this paperback cover for Sally Carrighar’s One Day at Beetle Rock. Dad’s scanty records show that it was either commissioned or delivered on May 25, 1965, and that Pyramid Books paid him $300 for it. I assume the original is gouache on illustration board.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rascal Ephemera

Here is an obscure piece of Rascal ephemera, which used Dad’s frontispiece illustration from the book. I think it was a promotional print, sent out by the publisher sometime in the late 1960s, as it came with a flier titled, “Honors for Sterling North’s RASCAL, Winner of the Dutton Animal Book Award, 1963.” It notes:
The fame of the Raccoon from Wisconsin has spread throughout the world to capture the hearts of young and old. RASCAL has been distributed by the Book-of-the-Month Club and by two other book clubs. It will soon be made into a Walt Disney film. A nationwide bestseller for six months, RASCAL numbers more than 115,000 copies in print.
It was also a flat-fee job that netted all of $1000 for Dad. But the “Raccoon from Wisconsin” helped put him on the children’s book map.

Jacket for The Golden Eagle

Dad’s jacket art for Robert Murphy’s The Golden Eagle, published by Dutton in 1965. I assume the original painting was gouache on illustration board.

From Incident at Hawk’s Hill

I keep looking and looking, but I just can’t find the reference photo that Dad used in making this illustration for Allan W. Eckert’s Incident at Hawk’s Hill. He and I posed for it - and that’s pretty much me (or a scrawnier version of me) and although the father’s head isn’t Dad’s, the strong forearms definitely are.

UPDATE of April 12, 2011!
I found the photo - it was hiding in plain sight. And, yes, Dad’s arms are much like the dad’s in the illustration. Also, I am indeed plumper than the boy in the book. If only I had been raised by a badger on the Manitoban prairies!

On the left in the background is Dad’s jacket illustration for “The Jezebel Wolf” by F. N. Monjo.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sherlock Holmes and John Schoenherr

Note: This post was significantly expanded on April 8, 2014

My father introduced me to Sherlock Holmes when I was 11. I’d already been watching the Basil Rathbone movies and drawing pictures of the character, so, technically, the introduction had been made years before, but it was then that ever-logical Dad suggested that I read the original stories so I'd know who Holmes and Watson really were.

Before long, I’d become an absolute fanatic and, besides collecting everything Sherlock Holmes-related I could get my hands on, I appropriated the original art for Dad’s sole Sherlockian illustration. He made it for Mack Reynolds’s science fiction story, “The Adventure of the Extraterrestrial,” which appeared in Analog magazine for July 1965. It was job #303 in his work-log, commissioned on March 29, 1964, and it was either one of the last jobs he did in his Long Island City studio, or one of the first ones his did in the small bedroom workspace in his new, old house in rural New Jersey. The ink-on-scratchboard drawing netted him $150.00. By the way, for copyright reasons, the aged Holmes seen in the picture was only referred to as “The Great Detective” in the text.

I always thought Dad’s Watson resembled his own father, though my Grandpa Schoenherr never had a walrus mustache like that (he did have his own copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, however). I remember, too, Dad pointing out that he’d deliberately updated Holmes’s unanswered-correspondence-tranfixing-jack-knife with a more modern switch-blade.

My father was definitely a Sherlock Holmes fan (though never a crazed one) and he attended scion society meetings with me before I could drive. He also enjoyed Arthur Conan Doyle’s Brigadier Gerard tales and it was a long-time wish of his to illustrate The Lost World - featuring Professor Challenger, who my father resembled somewhat. (Dad never got the chance - though this painting hints at what could have been - but, evidently, his one-time brother-in-law, Ray Sternbergh, painted the cover for the Pyramid Books edition of the novel.)

I should note that a few months before making this illustration, my father received the following letter from the Little Green Man Science Fiction Awards Society of Kansas City, Missouri.

Devoted Sherlockians will recognize one of the names on the letterhead. Here, too, is the April 1963 cover mentioned in the letter - and still more devoted Sherlockians should note that the author of the cover story, Winston P. Sanders, was the sometime-nom-de-plume of Poul Anderson.