Portrait of a Master Fantasy Artist
IN AUGUST 2012 JUSTIN MARRIOTT of The Paperback Fanatic published a two volume set of A5 books dedicated to the art of Bruce Pennington. Titled Pennington: Portrait of a Master Fantasy Artist The books very soon sold out, but few people realise that this publication was originally devised as a lavish A4 perfect bound volume. Unfortunately, due to financial restrictions, this was eventually shelved for the more affordable A5 volumes which were eventually published. While most of the art made it into the second version, much of the biographical text didn’t, on the assumption that fans would rather see more of Pennington's amazing art.
   However, Justin, Bruce and I thought it was a real shame that the original version didn’t see print and so we decided the next best thing would be to present the original work in its entirety here in the Bruce Pennington Archive.

  -  Steve Lines, September 2013 -                                                             
Unlike today, in the early 70’s the shelves of bookstores were full of a wide array of paperbacks and, although we didn’t know it then, we were going through a golden age of paperback publishing. You could walk into stores like W. H. Smiths and see many of the Weird Tales authors represented there (R. E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, Frank Belknap Long) as well as new authors writing similar tales (Lin Carter, Fritz Leiber, L, Sprague De Camp, Michael Moorcock) and science fiction authors such as Asimov, Clarke, Wyndham, Herbert etc.)
   Publishing houses such as Panther, Mayflower, Sphere and New English Library were flourishing and producing some wonderful books.
   These were exciting times for a fan of science fiction, fantasy, sword & sorcery and the weird tale and I bought as many of these books as my college grant would allow (who needed to eat anyway?). As I was an art student at this time, the cover illustrations to these books was very important to me as well and I always looked for (but seldom found) the art credit on the reverse of the book. It was only with the arrival of Science Fiction Monthly that I finally had the chance to put names to some of the fantastic art that adorned these books. Fortunately for me the first issue of SFM included an interview with the man who, I soon realised, was responsible for nearly all of my favourite covers which weren‘t by Chris Foss: Bruce Pennington. The interview was accompanied by a photograph which showed the artist in his studio and he looked like some sort of sorcerer straight from a story by Clark Ashton Smith, surrounded by his paintings and the paraphernalia of his arcane art. From then on I was hooked and began to collect every Pennington book cover I could find (a collection I’m still building). Bruce’s paintings were easy to spot as his style was instantly recognisable and his covers jumped out at you from the bookstands. Whether it be the strange alien vistas and creatures he conjured up for the books by Brian Aldis, Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov and others; the exotic, romantic illustrations for books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lin Carter and Gene Wolfe, the or the fantastic eldritch demon-infested landscapes he produced for the works by Clark Ashton Smith and H. P. Lovecraft, his covers grabbed the attention. His use of light and colour is second-to-none and the influence of the Impressionists can be seen in his work. His style was often imitated, (no doubt at the request of publishers keen for more of the same), but it was never equalled. Over 40 years have passed since I saw my first Bruce Pennington cover but he remains my all-time favourite artist and I hope one day to complete my collection of his book covers.

   -  Steve Lines, September 2013 -

The Bruce Pennington Fan page on Facebook
The Bruce Pennington Website
An Interview with Bruce Pennington
Bruce Pennington art scans at ImageNETion
Bruce Pennington prints
Bruce Pennington gallery
Bruce Pennington gallery (Spanish)
Bruce Pennington gallery (Russian)