Hescox, Richard

Tagged: Art

(1949-    ) US illustrator who, between 1976 and 1993, painted some 135 covers for sf and fantasy books, and who thereafter has devoted his artistic endeavours to the Games industry and to private works.

Hescox received his formal art education at Citrus Junior College, Glendora, California, and more significantly at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, California, where he took Fine Arts as a major. Even while still there he began eking out an income by painting portraits at Disneyland. His first full-time job was at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History. At the 1973 Comic-Con he exhibited a few illustrations he'd done in the style of Frank Frazetta; seeing these, Neal Adams recommended him to Marvel Comics. The first of Hescox's handful of covers for Marvel was done for Monsters Unleashed #7 (August 1974). He also sent samples to various New York publishers, and found Donald A Wollheim enthusiastic; Hescox's first book cover, for Walkers on the Sky (1976) by David J Lake, was commissioned by Wollheim for DAW Books. Among other covers he would produce over the years were those for the 1991 Del Rey/Ballantine Books iteration of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Venus series. During the 1976-93 period of his main contribution to printed sf Illustration he also did some interior art, mainly frontispieces to books of which he had also painted the covers. In the new century Hescox has done a sporadic handful of covers.

Earlier, during the 1980s, he did a deal of work for the movie industry, producing advertising art for such movies as Escape from New York (1981), Time Bandits (1981), Swamp Thing (1981) (see The Swamp Thing), The Thing (1982), The Dark Crystal (1982), The Neverending Story (1982), Conan the Barbarian (1984), The Fly (1986) and Santa Claus, the Movie (1986). He was a production illustrator for movies including Galaxy of Terror (1981), The Philadelphia Experiment (1983) and Eliminators (1986).

In 1993 he joined Sanctuary Woods Multimedia Corporation, working on the Game The Riddle of Master Lu. Between 1995 and 1998 he worked for Dynamix Corporation, helping develop and doing much concept art for the game Rama, based on the Arthur C Clarke novel Rendezvous with Rama (1973) and its sequels with Gentry Lee. From 1998 to 2001 he was at Sierra On-Line as art director for their computer Videogames; since then he has worked as a freelance concept artist for computer-game companies, with clients including Microsoft Games.

Thanks to his income from the Games industry since the 1990s he has been able to invest time and energy in personal paintings, developing the love of the fine arts that drew him into his career in the first place. These paintings, depicting such subjects as naked water nymphs supplicating dying heroes, show the sensibilities and influence of painters of an earlier age, especially John William Waterhouse (1849-1917) and – although Hescox himself vehemently denies the influence – the Pre-Raphaelites. They are very lovingly rendered and show the same strong compositional sense as his cover illustrations. These paintings are generally done in oils on canvas; his commercial work more typically uses acrylics.

Richard Hescox won the New England SF Association's Jack Gaughan Award for best emerging artist in 1991 – fifteen years after his sf-Illustration career began and just a couple of years before it essentially ended. He has been nominated for several Chesley Awards, winning in 2003 for his Unpublished Colour Work The Storm. A book of his work is The Deceiving Eye: The Art of Richard Hescox (graph coll 2004) with text by Randy M Dannenfelser. [JGr]

Richard Hescox

born Pasadena, California: 8 October 1949

died

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