Bok, Hannes

Tagged: Art | Author

Pseudonym of US illustrator, author, and astrologer Wayne Francis Woodard (1914-1964). Sf Illustration has had very few mavericks: Bok was possibly the most famous. He did not let editors and publishers dictate the way he designed his work, and thereby lost hundreds of commissions. As Brian W Aldiss notes in Science Fiction Art (1975), he was one of the field's "masters of the macabre", a stylist par excellence. He painted many covers and did hundreds of black-and-white illustrations for such magazines as Cosmic Stories, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Fantastic Universe, Future Fiction, Imagination, Planet Stories, Stirring Science Stories, Super Science Stories, and, especially, seven covers for Weird Tales. He also did book-jackets for Arkham House, Fantasy Press, Gnome Press and Shasta Publishers, among others. His style was unique, though the colours and techniques he used were heavily influenced by Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966); his black-and-white illustrations, which are generally most admired, are highly stylized, with angular and almost Byzantine human figures. In the 1950s, he published some collaborative work with artist Boris Dolgov under the pseudonym Dolbokgov. Despite his frequent work for sf magazines, Bok was much stronger when illustrating Fantasy and Horror.

Bok was also a writer. Two of his colourful, moralizing fantasy novels were published in book form after his death: The Sorcerer's Ship (December 1942 Unknown; 1969) and Beyond the Golden Stair (January 1948 Startling as "The Blue Flamingo"; exp 1970); his other novel was "Starstone World" (Summer 1942 Science Fiction Quarterly). An admirer of A Merritt, he completed and illustrated two of the latter's novels after Merritt's death in 1943 – The Black Wheel (1947) and The Fox Woman and The Blue Pagoda (coll 1946) – being credited in both books. "The Blue Pagoda" was an episode written by Bok to complete The Fox Woman, on which Merritt had worked sporadically for 20 years before his death. Bok wrote other short stories that are rarely republished, but his numerous poems were collected after his death as Spinner of Silver and Thistle (1972).

Bok did little illustration after 1952, focusing mostly on astrology, the subject of thirteen articles he wrote for Raymond A Palmer's Mystic Magazine (retitled Search in 1956). With Ed Emshwiller he shared the first Hugo Award in 1953 for Best Cover Artist. After his death, his friend Emil Petaja became chair of the Bokanalia Memorial Foundation, founded in 1967, which published folios of Bok's artwork and a biographical tribute, Petaja's And Flights of Angels: The Life and Legend of Hannes Bok (1968). Several other folios have since appeared, though some are possibly retitled editions of earlier collections. [JG/PN/GW]

see also: Futurians.

Wayne Francis Woodard

born Kansas City, Missouri: 2 July 1914

died New York: 11 April 1964

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