GALLERY OF FRANK R. PAUL's SCIENCE FICTION ARTWORK
by Frank R. Paul
The text of this speech by Paul was printed in a special issue of Science-Fiction Times, vol. 3a, distributed at the 1963 WorldCon in Washington, D.C. Also in the magazine was an article entitled "A Rememberance [sic] of Paul," which also follows. The magazine was edited and published by James V. Taurasi, Sr. Frank R. Prieto, Jr., assistant editor.
WHAT MAKES A SCIENCE FICTION FAN
by Frank R. Paul
Here is an address delivered by the Master, Frank R. Paul, before the March 1, 1953 meeting of the Eastern Science Fiction Association, the oldest science-fiction club in the New York-New Jersey area. It has never appeared in print before. The regular issue of Science-Fiction Times (August 1963 - #405) contains the speech made by Paul at the First World Science Fiction Convention in 1939, at which he was Guest of Honor.
Not so long ago one had to apologize for being a Science-Fiction fan. We were considered a little-off-center -- visionaries with too much imagination. Now, however, since many things which were once thought mere figments of the imagination have become practical everyday realities, people have come to the realization that every step toward progress requires imagination.
What makes a Science-Fiction Fan? Well, the answer is, curiosity and a spirit of adventure. We are all driven by the same impulse, from the boy who takes the family clock apart to see what makes it tick, to the Physicist who experiments with nuclear fission. This impulse is not just a passing fancy, but lasts a lifetime and makes life much more interesting and exciting.
There are no lounge lizards and mental laggards among Science-Fiction Fans. On the contrary, they are mostly live-wires -- mentally alert individuals who follow every step in all branches of science and speculate on the next step and the next and the next, and right there is where our fan begins. We enjoy following a basic scientific fact to its ultimate potential. Our constant questions are why? and Why not? The fellow who can best dramatize such a pursuit of an idea for us is our friend for life.
The mere fact that readers of Science-Fiction form organization, with periodic meetings for discussions and exchange of views (something non-existing in any other branch of literature) proves that Science-Fiction is both exciting, interesting and stimulating and, I might add, educational.
We are learning a great many things about our Solar System, our neighboring planets and their satellites. Interplanetary travel seems to be drawing nearer and nearer, and our horizons get wider and wider.
It is pretty nearly universally conceded that there are millions of inhabited and habitable worlds in the universe, and it's always fun to speculate on this theme. We never tire of visiting them. A friend asked me once, on seeing a picture I drew of the inhabitants of a strange world, "How do you know that people on that world look like that?" Well, the answer was, "Simple. I was there." Of course that brought a laugh, but for all intents and purposes it was quite a truthful and logical answer. You see, with a little imagination you can transfer yourself to any place in the universe traveling on thought waves, the speed of which makes the speed of light look like parking. I am sure you find just as much fun and fascination in exploring strange worlds as I do.
But, while we enjoy all the hazards of space travel, we do not forget our own world, which is far from being perfect. We are intensely and fiercely interested in correcting the imperfections. For instance, to us Science-Fiction fans it makes absolutely no sense to see a planet like ours covered, two-thirds of its surface, with water, and yet have great areas of land barren deserts for the lack of it. With all our engineering marvels before our eyes, and our super engineers, it ought to be an easy matter to have water in any quantity, whenever and wherever needed. I am sure a prophetic story on that problem would be mighty interesting. I am sure if some engineer, chemist or meteorologist got the answer, even if only in theory, he'd have a world-wide audience.
We think nothing of spending 300 billions of dollars on a war. It would make a good Science-Fiction story to show what could be done with 300 billions spent for peaceful purposes.
Anyone looking at the over-restless ocean can't help seeing millions of horsepower going to waste every day. Also, we know that Father Neptune has been robbing us for ages of our best topsoil and minerals. I wonder if some chemical engineer hasn't got a good story under his hate showing how we can make old Neptune give back, with interest, what he swallowed.
You know how long it takes for rock and gravel to become topsoil. How about expediting this geoligic cycle, say from a thousand years to a fraction of a second? I know this sounds fantastic, but who knows, maybe some Science-Fiction 4-H club member in Texas or Arizona- might be seriously thinking about this right now and eventually come up with the right answer.
In the field of Biology there are innumerable areas suitable for exploration, how about the creation of the perfect man and the effect on his surroundings, etc. to my mind, the best Science Fiction stories do not necessarily deal with horrors, murders and destruction, but rather those which stimulate our imagination in exploring the wonders of the future in every branch of science.
While we hehold with fascination and awe the marvels of our applied scientific progress, every Science-Fiction Fan knows that we have entered an era of tremendous scientific developments. We have released new powers with unlimited possibilities. And what the future holds in store for us is both exciting and fun.
A REMEMBERANCE OF PAUL
from the special World Convention issue of Science-Fiction Times, vol. 3a, 1963
by Sam Moskowitz
When Frank R. Paul passed away on June 29, 1963, at the age of 79, he left a vacuum in the art end of science-fiction that will probably never be filled. Many of the readers and fans who knew Paul either personally or thru his wonderful art work, have always waited for the day that one of the s-f magazines would return him to full duty as a s-f artist. There was never any doubt of this. Science-Fiction without Paul doing the covers and interiors was and is like a rocket-ship without fuel -- something vital is missing. Now that he is gone, only his [fond] memory and his art [are] left. His friends, and there are many, will also have the memory of a strong, gentle man, whose love for s-f reflected in each and every picture he painted. Those that knew him only thru his timeless paintings and drawings will always be inspired and thrilled by them. This was and is science-fiction!! A vital part of our field, where the printed words only added depth to the wonderful illustrations of the mater -- Frank R. Paul.
Here we have the field's outstanding research editor, Sam Moskowitz on the outstanding artist -- Paul, the man.
The test of an artist's greatness rests in his ability to catch the spirit of the subject or situation he is portraying. The techniques of a da Vinci or [Michelangelo] will be wasted if that ability is not present. More than any artist before or since, Frank R. Paul [succeeded] in transferring the essence of science-fiction into pictorial form. The test of his supremacy is simple. Show any newspaper or magazine doing an article on science-fiction a selection of illustrative material, including the best works of your favorite science-fiction artists and give him an alternative of using 35-year old Paul's and Paul will win almost every time.
There is no other artist in science fiction's history whose illustrations have been picked up and reprinted in books, magazines and newspapers as frequently as Frank R. Paul. Some of them may be hurried, rushed, with human figures almost crude, but they portray the mood and tell the story. I am talking from repeated personal experience. Part of my income is derived from consultancy work. In the course of that consultancy work I am frequently called upon to provide illustrative material. My wife has the equipment to expertly map in black and white or color any illustration in my collection and the facilities for converting it into the desired type of photographic print.
I have had the experience of men from The New York Times, The World Publishing Co., The National Film Board of Canada and even newspapers as far distance as the Union of South Africa make selections of what they want. Without exception they will buy Paul's by as much as five to one over any other science-fiction artist.
This is the ultimate tribute to the artist whose work has come to personify science-fiction whether one cares for it or not and in spite of anything anyone can do about it.
I knew Frank R. Paul and I almost hesitate to tell the truth about him because people will feel that it is an overeuphonistic eulogy written as "The Proper Thing." Nevertheless it was the actual man.
Frank R. Paul was one of the "good" men in the world. Like any human being he may have had shortcomings but they were not visibly evident. Paul lived good, he behaved good, he talked good, he thought good and he did good.
His personality was radiant. He was instantly likeable. His good nature was unflagging. Complaints he kept to himself. Thoughtfulness and consideration were instinctive. There was no one who did not get along with Frank R. Paul.
His work schedule was unbelievable. He literally worked from 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 Midnight seven days a week. His work habits were impeccable. Hour by hour the progress was self-evident. His complete mastery and familiarity with ... almost every tool in the artist's trade made his fellow artists gape. Oils, water color, air brush work, line-drawings, anatomical paintings, there was nothing he couldn't do. His weakness at human figures disappeared when the time was present for him to take pains with his subjects.
He never missed a deadline. In 1959 when he experienced a heart attack during the night and the doctors told him he must be immobilized for two weeks, he got up, dressed, took the bus into New York from his Teaneck, New Jersey home and delivered his illustrations to his New York accounts. When chastised for disobeying the doctors' instructions, he replied: "Hell! The editors have to meet a deadline and they can't do it if I'm laying on my back feeling sorry for myself."
As a teen-ager he gained early experience in draftsmanship and mechanical drawing working in an Austrian convent. The clergy were so [fond] of him they exerted great pressure to convince him he should dedicate his life to theology. "Even then I was too much of a free thinker, had too much of an inquiring mind to accept any dogma," Paul underscored. His attitude might be termed agnostic and his professions satirically irreverent. He was cynically impudent in the face of any inordinate degree of religious demonstration.
Yet no man ever lived a more religiously proper life, more faithfully followed the ten commandments, more dutifully did right by his family or took a more serious interest in the welfare of the community in which he happened to reside.
"Mumbo jumbo or the mouthing of noble sentiments are no measure of the piety of a man," Paul said. "Only actions count, only performance is meaningful."
Paul was one of the finest caligraphers in the country though in his later years he practiced this fine art only rarely since the time it took made it unprofitable. It was this phase of his talents which resulted in his being permitted to do his first science-fiction covers. He had been asked to design the title logo for the first issue of Amazing Stories.
When he completed the design of the now-famous comet-tale lettering of the early Amazing Stories, he hastily sketched in a design of an illustration to set off the appearance of his work. Gernsback liked it and rushed it into print literally before Paul could sketch in the details. It was one of the most inspired snap-decisions of Gernsback's career. There is little question that Paul's covers played a very major role in the quick identification of a science-fiction magazine by existing fanatics and the luring of tens of thousands of others to the fold.
Previous to that time Paul had done hundreds of excellent interior drawings for Science and Invention, Radio News, The Experimenter and sundry other Gernsback publications. Many of them are black and white masterpieces.
Back during the depths of the depression Frank Paul purchased a farm house with primitive accommodations in Bergen County, New Jersey. Physically an immensely powerful, well-conditioned man (right up to his death) he cleared the land, built onto the house, put all modern improvements into the house. When, in the middle thirties, it became almost impossible to get work of any sort, Paul was in danger of losing his home. The community he lived in was preparing to build a new City Hall and Paul received a commission to do color murals depicting famous historical scenes from the area which would be painted on the walls of the public building. He completed full-color representations and had them approved and was already to begin work on the walls, when for political reasons the mayor of the town got the entire deal cancelled.
As a result Paul lost his home and farm.
Thirty years later, he moved back to Bergen County. The mayor had died, but one day The Bergen Evening Record ran a news story about the wife of the now-deceased mayor, who had "discovered" a set of paintings depicting in full color scenes from Bergen County's early history. These she was magnanimously set to contribute to the State Historical Society in the name of her late husband.
Paul's letters in the readers columns of The Bergen Evening Record for the next few weeks were some of the hottest copy extant. Those paintings were the color sketches of the murals Paul was to have painted. He had never been paid for them and the sketches had never been returned. The man who was to be posthumously honored by a donation of his work was directly responsible for Paul losing his property through obviating a town agreement. Paul didn't mind donating the pictures to a historical society, but not as a means of preserving the memory of the man who had done everything he could to suppress them.
The first issue of Life Magazine under Henry Luce carried a two-page wash drawing by Paul and he was called in frequently to do work for the magazine, until he decided that the time involved was not adequately balanced by the money. Scores of major skyscrapers, industrial and office buildings in the Greater New York area were designed by Paul, including the Johnson & Johnson Building in New Brunswick, New Jersey, which, at the time of its completion in 1938, was hailed as the single most outstanding example of industrial architecture in the United States. The complete plans and color sketches for the building are still in the possession of his widow.
A few short pages simply are not enough space to do proper justice to his personality, impact or achievements. For the moment, it is enough to say with absolute conviction that he is destined to be remembered and his illustrations reproduced as a unique American [phenomenon] long after many "serious" illustrators' works have gone out of vogue and their names as well as their works forgotten.
Special thanks to Peter V. Bonnesen for providing me with a copy of these articles, after beating me out for the magazine on eBay.
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ROOM 2 (Wonder Stories)
ROOM 3 (Other Magazines)
ILLUSTRATED CHECKLIST of Paul's work: Covers: Parts I, II, and III; Back Covers: IV; and Interiors & Articles: V.
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