found these amazing covers from the 1930s – 40s, in the Mary Evans Picture Archive. I had gone looking for images from WW1 and one of them had caught my eye. I eventually sorted through around 300 of them to arrive at the final 8. At first I was drawn by their spectacular colour, but I also became captivated by their bonkers text, which I couldn’t help incorporating into the end design. They were originally painted for a publication called, “Amazing Stories” and are from the heyday of “Pulp Sci fi”, the 1930s and the 1940s. The artwork is attributed to the staff illustrator at this time, Frank R Paul. Although today we might think of the word “Pulp” to describe something of little merit, In the 30s and 40s these magazines were the breeding grounds for heavy weight writer such as Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Azimov, Edgar Rice Burrows and H.G. Wells. In his article “the golden age of Pulp Fiction”, the author Mike Ashley uses the word “ephemeral” to describe the quality of the product, but it is also a perfect word to describe these covers. Never intended to be taken too seriously, they are of their time; a snap shot into a pre space age, and for the most, a pre war period in history. Viewed from their perspective, the artist lets us glimpse a Technicolor world full of wonder, and infinite possibilities. Of course post space age we know the universe to be constructed of base minerals and swirling gases, and although it can be cataclysmic, it is also cold and silent. It is still a place of infinite beauty, but just not quite so Technicolor, and I can’t help feeling just a little sense of loss knowing that, in fact, “Ganymede” isn’t populated by “cat like people who ride about on lizards”.
The value of Original I've spent a large amount of my working life in museums, archives and galleries and it never ceases to amaze me what you can find there. These days we all take for granted the ease and speed with which information reaches us, and I’m no different. We are all so used to googling images on demand that it’s easy to forget that, “somewhere”, there is an original that “someone” is looking after for us. It could be argued that the digital age makes images and information available to the masses, and of course this is undeniable, but the danger of the reproduction, is that is can somehow devalue the original. There is no substitute for actually making the effort to see an object in the flesh. It‘s only when you occupy the same physical proximity as its’ creator that you begin to understand the object. From this view point you can see how the brush strokes are formed, or how the writer of a medieval, manuscript got board and doodled in the margin. Anyone can listen to a piece of Mozart and enjoy it, but if you get a chance to see one of his original, hand written, manuscript s, held in the British Library, you can see the scrawled, notes almost tumble over each other on their way to the page, and then you can truly understand how driven he was. I suppose my point is this: It’s use them or lose them...Archive like Mary Evans and all our amazing, museums are custodians of our shared cultures. They diligently preserve continuity between what “was” and, what “is” ...for those who would hope to build what “will be” and they should be protected at all cost. My 14 year old son would say “what’s the point? it’s just old stuff”, and of course he’s right, but this “stuff” grounds us, and it teaches us tolerance, because it is only when viewed from another point in time, can we truly gain perspective on our own.