Thursday, April 02, 2009

Whelan & Paul / '09 Hall of Famers!

Really pleased to hear via Locus Online that Michael Whelan & Frank R. Paul are amongst the four new Science Fiction Museum Hall of Famers, along with Connie Willis and Edward L. Ferman. It's great to see not one, but two, of the best sf artists ever amongst this year's inductees. Whelan's reputation as one of the greatest illustrators in the history of sf/fantasy is well-known. Paul is perhaps lesser known to folks who don't draw and paint sf for a living because Paul was the first major science fiction illustrator, and his visionary work happened in the 20's and 30's. (Pictured above: one of his seminal AMAZING STORIES covers.) Hugo-winner Frank Wu sums up Paul's greatness:

"At a time when most Americans didn't even have a telephone, he was painting space stations, robots and aliens from other planets. In an era when Lindbergh made headlines by flying across the Atlantic, Paul envisioned starships plowing across the galaxy. Indeed, he was the guest of honor at the first world science fiction convention, and he was the first person to ever make a living drawing spaceships. What could be cooler than that? The first science fiction image Arthur C. Clarke ever saw was a Frank R. Paul painting. Same for Forrest J. Ackerman and Ray Bradbury. Indeed, his work has inspired countless multitudes to write and dream and explore."

Whelan's greatness as an artist and influence on modern sf/fantasy art is legendary. Most of his recent work is personal gallery efforts (stunning and ever-evolving), while his book cover days are largely behind him. What might not be as well-known is his huge generosity toward fellow illustrators and toward the field itself. His attention to visual detail is unparalleled, but he pays the same attention to detail to how he treats people. Example -- in 2005, I was at the World Horror Convention in NYC and at the time, I'd just received my first Hugo nomination. Even though we'd never met, Whelan walked up, shook my hand and congratulated me. He didn't have to do that, but the fact he'd even take the time to do so, meant a lot. As if that weren't enough, he later asked if we could have breakfast the next morning and even drove me and Traci to the airport right after, so that we didn't have to take a shuttle. Small gestures. Tiny details. But how rarely does someone you barely know do something like that? How rarely do each of us invest time, kindness, and detail on a stranger? Whelan's the ultimate class act, and when I think about how I want to treat people on my best days, he's the example. It's a great day because he's now officially recognized as what we all knew he already is -- an all-time great (who ain't done yet), and officially now, an SFM Hall-of-Famer. :) Congrats to all four inductees, and especially to you, Michael.


Blogger Mair said...

Well written, John. I have always loved Michael's work and lament the day I sold two signed prints I owned of his...times were tough.

And very cool to know that many authors and artists were inspired by Paul's images.

11:03 PM  
Blogger John Picacio said...

Oy....'have to do what you have to do in tough times. Doesn't make it any easier though....

I'll be curious to find out who the jurors were for this year's Hall of Fame induction. It's usually writers, editors, and word folks voting on these, so therefore they're generally inclined toward voting other writers and editors. So to see not one, but two, artists in the four choices is a welcome sight. At least to me. :) All four inductees are hugely worthy.

11:50 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Hi John. Just wanted to say that, concerning the comment you made about Michael Whelan being an all-around nice and generous guy, I've been saying the same about you ever since CoastCon, bro!

7:44 PM  
Blogger Mair said...

Here, here, JP - I could not agree with you more...

...and John, it is about time that the cover (and internals) artists are recognized - after all, that's what sells a book to someone unfamiliar with an author...especially when the artist is you! Ha!

3:02 AM  
Blogger John Picacio said...

Thanks, JP.....thanks, Mair. Awfully kind of both of you. :)

10:17 AM  

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