Wednesday, June 18, 2014

John Schoenherr

This is the first appearance of DUNE as it was serialized in Analog magazine, cover date - December 1963, photographed in front of 5219 39th Avenue in Queens.

I've been by this house hundreds of times. It's five, short blocks from where I've lived for the past 20 years! I never knew until just recently that it was where John Schoenherr grew up and worked before moving with his young family to rural New Jersey. The first visualization of DUNE was painted in his studio-  in that house. 

So was this: It's his second book cover, and a favorite of mine. 

So were these: Both originally covers for Analog magazine, but I knew them from the book TOMORROW AND BEYOND.

I couldn't quite believe it when I learned that the home he grew up in was so close to me. It was a wonderful, serendipitous discovery facilitated by some random web browsing, and a conversation with his son Ian, via twitter. John Schoenherr is easily one of my favorite illustrators of science fiction, and an inspirational influence. It was the Illustrated edition of DUNE I bought at B Dalton's in the summer of 1978 and read. Schoenherr's art left an impression on me equal to the novel itself. He painted starkly and powerfully. With a keen eye for color, lighting and mass, he made big statements without a lot of fussy detail.

His black and white work was just as stunning and dramatic.

For all of that, some of his best work, and from what I've read, the most dear to him was his wild life artwork. Perhaps it was his fondness for wildlife that made his aliens so convincing.

I'll end with the last page from the Caldecott Medal winning book OWL MOON:

Now when I go by 5219 39th Avenue, I always refer to it as the "Schoenherr house".

Ian's blog devoted to John Schoenherr