Morey, Leo

Tagged: Art

Working name of American artist Leopoldo Morey y Pena (1889-1965). Born into a well-to-do family in Peru, he studied engineering at Louisiana State University and briefly did illustrations for a newspaper in Argentina before returning to America to work as an artist, first in New Orleans and later in New York City. Some interior art and covers for Hugo Gernsback's Science and Invention presumably brought him to the attention of Gernsback's associate T O'Conor Sloane, and when Gernsback left Amazing Stories in 1929 to launch a new company and new magazines, taking artist Frank R Paul with him, Sloane soon turned to Morey as Paul's replacement. Morey's first interior art appeared in the November 1929 issue, and he painted his first cover for the February 1930 issue. Morey went on to paint a total of 71 covers for Amazing, along with twelve for its companion magazine Amazing Stories Quarterly and a great deal of interior art for both magazines. When Sloane lost control of Amazing in 1938, Morey worked for other sf magazines, doing covers for Super Science Stories and Comet, interior art for Thrilling Wonder Stories, and work for non-genre magazines. He also drew for several Comic books, including Planet Comics, Thrilling Comics, Startling Comics, and Forbidden Worlds, remaining active into the early 1960s.

Morey's works has aroused mixed reactions in the sf community. On the positive side, he employed a wide range of colours, rendered human characters reasonably well, and could craft some strikingly imaginative aliens; his covers are often presented as archetypal examples of sf Pulp-magazine art. One unheralded example of his work, his cover for the November 1930 issue of Amazing showing three men entrapped in the tentacles of an enormous sea Monster, epitomizes the imaginative energy of his best work, also displayed in some of his interior illustrations. But other covers seem dull and lifeless, and he definitely lacked the flair for creative architecture and technology that was the hallmark of Paul, the artist to whom he is inevitably compared, almost always unfavourably. More broadly, Paul is properly honoured as a pioneer in the field of sf art, whereas Morey was merely one of his many successors, though perhaps one more talented than many would acknowledge. [JG/PN/GW]

Leopoldo Morey y Pena

born Lima, Peru: 24 October 1889

died Manhasset, New York: 1 January 1965

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