Binkley, Ric

Tagged: Art

(?   -?   ) American artist. Virtually nothing is known about this artist except that he began painting covers for books from Fantasy Press and Gnome Press in 1950, worked steadily for several years for those publishers and for Avalon Books, and then became inactive; a report that he died at an early age seems plausible. Diligent research may someday connect his name to one of several Richard Binkleys found in genealogical databases, though no one to date has been inspired to undertake the project. Binkley's cover for E E "Doc" Smith's Gray Lensman (October 1939-January 1940 Astounding; 1951), an almost exact copy of Hubert Rogers's famed cover for the October, 1939 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction, supports what Jane Frank terms the "consensus opinion" that he frequently borrowed from other artists, though it is uncertain how frequently he chose to be imitative. For example, his strange cover for Hal Clement's Iceworld (October-December 1951 Astounding; 1953), showing an alien in a garish spacesuit next to two children, bore no resemblance to van Dongen's more symbolic cover illustrating the magazine serialization of the novel.

Whether due to others' influence or his own artistic muse, Binkley's work is highly variegated, as covers may offer astronomical scenes (Arthur C Clarke's Sands of Mars [1952], Leigh Brackett's The Starmen [1952]), realistic portrayals of human figures (C L Moore's Northwest of Earth [1954], Eric Frank Russell's Wasp [1959]), or cartoonish caricatures (Henry Kuttner's Robots Have No Tails [coll of linked stories 1952], John W Campbell Jr's The Black Star Passes [coll of linked stories 1953]). There are rare flashes of odd creativity in Binkley's works, like his cover for Martin Greenberg's anthology The Robot and the Man (anth 1953) showing oddly stylized robots with one eye, but it is generally undistinguished. Still, Binkley will also be remembered because he painted the first covers for many books now regarded as classics, and his illustrations for Smith's Lensman books have occasionally been republished. [GW]

Ric Binkley

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