Hunter, Mel

Tagged: Art

Working name of American artist Milford Joseph Hunter III (1927-2004). After growing up with an abusive father, Hunter attended Northwestern University in Illinois before moving to California, where he worked as an artist for Northrop Aircraft Corporation. But he began seeking employment as a free-lance artist, and in early 1953 he sold his first cover to Galaxy magazine, depicting some men preparing a spaceship for flight, unusually observed from above. As early covers indicate, Hunter's human figures could look clumsy and cartoonish, but he was very good at painting convincing spaceships and planetary landscapes, and his later covers often exclude people entirely in order to foreground rockets, robots, and astronomical vistas. After publishing several other magazine covers and a few book covers, Hunter moved to New York in 1954, quitting his job at Northrop to exclusively pursue outside assignments. Once there, he continued doing sf magazine covers while also painting for other magazines and books, eventually coming to specialize in scientific and technological illustrations. For the October 1955 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Hunter inaugurated a series of 16 covers showing whimsically rendered Robots who have outlived the human race. As sign of his increasing visibility in the field, he was nominated for the Hugo for Best Professional Artist in 1960, 1961, and 1962.

However, Hunter had ambitions that extended beyond the genre, and when he moved to Vermont in 1967, he shifted his attention to paintings of landscapes and animals, and he later pioneered a new form of lithography using Mylar which he later explained in a handbook. In addition to illustrating science books by other authors, he also wrote and illustrated four science books for juvenile readers. In the meantime, as these other projects occupied his time, Hunter's sf work in the 1960s was limited almost exclusively to F&SF covers, and a 1971 cover for the magazine effectively concluded his sf career. Still, his singular work was not entirely forgotten, since he was invited back in 2003, shortly before his death, to provide the May 2003 issue of F&SF with one more cover in his Robot series, showing a robot sitting in a lifeguard tower on a barren landscape. Demonstrating his lingering commitment to sf and space travel, the dying Hunter requested that his ashes be launched into outer space, although the flight never reached its destination. [GW]

Milford Joseph Hunter III

born Oak Park, Illinois: 27 July 1927

died 20 February 2004

works

  • The Missilemen (New York: Doubleday, 1960) [nonfiction: text and photographs by Hunter: hb/uncredited]
  • Strategic Air Command (New York: Doubleday, 1961) [nonfiction: text and photographs by Hunter: hb/unknown]
  • How Man Began (New York: World Publishing, 1972) [juvenile nonfiction: written and illustrated by Hunter: republished in 1972 as Prehistoric Man: illus/hb/Mel Hunter]
  • How Fishes Began (New York: World Publishing, 1972) [juvenile nonfiction: written and illustrated by Hunter: republished in 1974 as Prehistoric Fishes: illus/hb/Mel Hunter]
  • How Plants Began (New York: World Publishing, 1972) [juvenile nonfiction: written and illustrated by Hunter: republished in 1974 as Prehistoric Plants: illus/hb/Mel Hunter]
  • How the Earth Began (New York: World Publishing, 1972) [juvenile nonfiction: written and illustrated by Hunter: republished in 1975 as Prehistoric Earth: illus/hb/Mel Hunter]

nonfiction

links

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