Lewis, Brian

Tagged: Art

(1929-1978) British artist. After education at a technical school, he worked as a technical artist for Decca Radar until 1960, although he began doing interior art for John Carnell's New Worlds in 1954 and in 1957 began painting covers for that magazine, while also working for its sister magazines Science Fiction Adventures and Science Fantasy.

Although Lewis's early covers were realistic, often foregrounding rather stiff-looking people, his cover for the December 1957 issue of Science Fantasy first displays the flair for more abstract imagery that would define his career. While surrealist artists Paul Klee (1879-1940) and Max Ernst (1891-1976) have been cited as influences, his works often seem more reminiscent of his contemporary Richard M Powers, particularly in their predilection for landscapes dominated by strange towering structures and irregular floating objects; his cover for the August 1958 issue of New Worlds foregrounds another Powers-like feature, a rounded, elongated human figure. Lewis's covers were also distinguished by colours that were strong and plain and seemed laid on thickly, an impression few other illustrators give. Brian W Aldiss particularly admired his cover for the June 1958 issue of Science Fantasy, illustrating John Brunner's "Earth Is But a Star" (1958 Science Fantasy #29; 1959 dos as Threshold of Eternity) by showing a man and a woman staring at an immense mechanical hand while other strange shapes rest on the ground or fly through the air. While these are the sorts of Lewis covers that one remembers, he also continued to offer more realistically rendered human portraits when they were deemed requisite, though examples like his painting of an astronaut in space for the cover of the May 1960 issue of Science Fiction Adventures demonstrate persuasively that this was not his strength.

Lewis worked for Carnell's magazines until 1962, when there was a shift to covers featuring photographs. Lewis had already started drawing for Comics in 1959, and this became his main avocation from 1962 until his death in 1978; one of his last projects was briefly drawing the revived strip Dan Dare – Pilot of the Future. In addition to a few unremarkable book covers, Lewis is also said to have worked for films, though reports that he contributed to Yellow Submarine (1968) and The Muppet Show (1976-1981) cannot be confirmed. [JG/PN/GW]

Brian Moncrieff Lewis

born Great Britain: 3 June 1929

died 4 December 1978

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