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November 30, 2005

Visco
Posted by Teresa at 01:47 PM *

That’s “Visco” as in The Visual Index of SF Cover Art. It’s a wonky site, but potentially a great resource, especially if they come anywhere near their goal of putting up a cover image of every science fiction, fantasy, weird and horror magazine ever published in the English language.

They already have a substantial collection. Have a look. If you don’t know where to start, you might try Mel Hunter’s “Last Robot” series, published as F&SF covers between 1955 (that first one was a little clunky) and 1971:
Gardening, Oct. 1955 :: Phonebook, July 1957 :: Yoo-hoo!, Dec. 1959 :: Audiophile, May 1960 :: Wind-ups, Dec. 1960 :: Art museum, Aug. 1961 :: Santa Claus, Jan. 1962 :: Landscape, March 1964 :: Hotrod, Jan. 1970 :: Bookshelf, May 1970 :: Traffic light, Sept. 1970 :: Rowboat, Dec. 1970 :: Vanity, March 1971 :: Baseball, Oct. 1971 :: Punch & Judy, Dec. 1971.
I love those covers. Somebody ought to reissue them as prints.
Comments on Visco:
#1 ::: Tracie Brown ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 02:58 PM:

I remember these from my mother's collection. I also remember getting the creeps, as a little kid, from Yoo Hoo.

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 03:02 PM:

Yeah. Hard to figure out what's going on there. Is it a happy rescue, or the discovery of a forlorn last cry for help?

#3 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 03:15 PM:

They're all sort of morbidly humorous, like Edward Gorey filtered through Asimovís brain. Great stuff.

#4 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 03:27 PM:

Much more recent, but in the same vein as the "Last Robot", and probably inspired by it, are the paintings of Brian DeSpain.

Some of my favourites are:

Mr. Bubbles Birthday


Blendboy 2000


The Icarus Fish


As for VISCO, eet looks like it could be an awesome resource. Thanks for the link.

#5 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 03:42 PM:

Which rock group's record is it that used Kelly Freas's famous painting of a giant robot gently holding a man in its hand?

#6 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 03:48 PM:

Queen

News of the World

#7 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 03:54 PM:

Serge, would you be thinking of Queen's _News of the World_?

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 03:55 PM:

Right. Thanks, Jeffrey.

About another group using SF's icons... To what extent were the Beatles interested in SF? Stephen Baxter once pointed out that H.G.Wells can be found on the cover of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And of course there's Ringo's solo album where he used a photo from The Day The Earth Stood Still.

#9 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 04:19 PM:

Well, if we're going that way, there is Klaatu. To the best of my knowledge I have never heard their music, but the sight of the name on an album cover always brought a smile.

When I worked at Switchboard at UC Davis in the mid 70's, the words that Patricia Neal said to the robot was required trivia knowledge, along with what was alleged to be Adolf Hitler's most unusual physical attribute.

#10 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 04:31 PM:

"...Adolf Hitler's most unusual physical attribute..."

OK, I'll bite. And will probably be sorry I said that.

What was Adolf Hitler's most unusual physical attribute?

#11 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 04:37 PM:

Maybe apocryphal:

He only had one ball.

#12 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 04:39 PM:

This has been a popular sig in some fannish circles:--
Hitler, he only had one ball/Goering, had two but they were small
Himmler, was very simmlar/But poor old Goebbels had no balls at all

I have fond memories of the Emsh Christmas covers for Galaxy. I suspect the notorious cover date slide means the Christmas covers were January issues? Likely my memories are strongly colored as well.

#13 ::: Meredith ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 04:44 PM:

Claude, if you are interested in hearing some Klaatu, arguably their most famous song ("Calling Occupants (Of Interplanetary Craft)") is in this WFMU archive.

It's ... different. :)

#14 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 04:47 PM:

Only one? Shot off during the Great War, or a congenital defect (among others of his)? Time for the Historians to pitch in...

#15 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 04:53 PM:

That Hitler quatrain is traditionally sung to "Colonel Bogey's March". (There's a nice quick story under that link...)

#16 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 05:05 PM:

Hah. My future father in law's work is there. God it's cheesy.

PS. Hitler has only got one ball...

#17 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 05:05 PM:

Damn. Beat me to it.

#18 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 05:17 PM:

But you have the complete text, Josh - nice!

#19 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 05:39 PM:

Good heavens -- I was trying to confirm the fact that Bette Midler used to sing this with great gusto (prolly still does) and came across the Wikipedia article listing a dozen variants: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitler_Has_Only_Got_One_Ball

#20 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 05:42 PM:

I may be wrong, but IIRC F&SF did at one time offer prints of some of Hunter's robot series for sale.

#21 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 06:02 PM:

Well, that didn't take long . . .

According to The Straight Dope this knowlege of is derived from the Russian autopsy, which could only find one. Considering the somewhat worse for wear condition of the remains, the reason for this solitary condition was not clear.

#22 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 06:06 PM:

My, that was a tortured sentence . . .

#23 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 06:17 PM:

...this knowledge is derived from the Russian autopsy...

Possibly, but the "Colonel Bogey" parody was popular during the war, before any autopsy was possible. And as Magda Goebbels had a large number of children (I believe it was seven), the line about her husband would seem unlikely to have any factual basis. I don't think the song is "based on" anything but a stock insult and some clever rhyme-play.

#24 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 06:19 PM:

Hmph. I posted about VISCO in an open thread quite a while ago!

#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 06:30 PM:

Then all credit and glory to you, Marilee, and shame on me for not registering it at the time.

#27 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 07:01 PM:

The great and wonderful (and lamented) Kelly Freas had "News of the World" (which, IIRC, was used for "A Night at the Opera" cover) for sale at a convention I was at. It was somewhat out of my means, but I did procure "The Goblin Reservation", with a handwritten note, at that time.

One wonders where said painting is now (IIRC, again, it was purchased at said convention)?

#28 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 07:56 PM:

jh, the painting was on the "News of the World" album ("Night at the Opera" has a mostly white cover with heraldic critters); it's not the Astounding cover, which just had the 'bot and the body, but incorporates the band members and has a larger background to make room for them. I never saw either original, but I'm reasonably sure Kelly was commissioned to do a new painting -- he certainly would have preferred to do that than alter a perfectly good existing one.

#29 ::: language hat ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 08:16 PM:

God, those covers take me back. I subscribed to F&SF from the early '60s through most of the '70s, and I collected the earlier ones; seeing those images brings back my youth in almost painful clarity. Thanks for this.

#30 ::: qB ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 06:24 AM:

Re monorchids, interestingly (to me at least) it is whispered by some Zimbabweans - very quietly and in conditions deemed to be absolutely secure - that their glorious leader Robert Gabriel Mugabe is also afflicted by this condition. It had to be upped to one because the previous version, in which he had none, was belied by the sudden appearance of offspring with his second wife.

#31 ::: qB ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 06:28 AM:

In fact he's got the 'tache too, now I think of it...

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 06:36 AM:

Is there a jpeg of Freas's painting available somewhere? I'd love to use that as wallpaper for my office computer. (And it'd be appropriate with the way I sometimes feel by the end of the day.)

#33 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 07:45 AM:

Mike wrote that "...as Magda Goebbels had a large number of children (I believe it was seven), the line about her husband would seem unlikely to have any factual basis..."

Remember, the size is not what matters, but what you do with it. (Last time I heard someone else use that line, I was at the Gap and my co-worker was talking about chainsaws and tree-cutting contests.)

#34 ::: Gordon Van Gelder ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 09:18 AM:

Teresa---

Donald Grant Books sells cards with the Mel Hunter robots on 'em. Check out www.grantbooks.com.

#35 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 09:39 AM:

The surgeons of the Red Army who performed the autopsy on Hitler were clear enough in their description of the situation: They found one testicle, but there was no evidence for a second externally, nor in the abdominal cavity. It would appear never to have descended, an unusual but not terribly uncommon condition. There's no reason to reject their findings, which were signed by all of them.

The questions regarding the matter are, I think, two: what did the undescended testicle mean to Hitler?; and how did the British Army, which sang that ditty in the western desert in 1942, come to be aware of it?

#36 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 09:41 AM:

"O daughter dear daughter now don't look so sad;
I had the same problem with your dear old dad.
But the postman is eager to answer the call
Of the wife of the man who has no balls at all."

No Balls At All

#37 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 10:12 AM:

Queen did commission Kelly to redesign the 'bot cover for _News of the World_.

I spoke to him after he'd been somewhere to meet the band (release party, maybe?) and he was delighted to have been asked and burbling over the whole thing.

Ghod, I miss him...

#38 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 02:40 PM:

Remember, the size is not what matters, but what you do with it.

The relevant line, however, is "...and Goballs has no balls at all."

Even leaving Magda and her medal-winning performance aside, there was nothing deficient about Joseph's drive -- he used his position (his job, that is) to hump every Ufa starlet he could get hold of.

This concludes the Reay Tannahill Lecture for today.

#39 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 02:42 PM:

Serge --

If you want the original, it was the cover for the October 1953 Astounding, available on the Visco site.

The Queen version is available at various places, I think.

#40 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 02:47 PM:

Thanks, Jeffrey.

#41 ::: Craig McDonough ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 10:51 PM:

...Ghod, I miss him...

I met him, I think, three times, and will always remember him.


He sort of, bubbled

I think the first time was at one of the "launch-cons" in Florida.

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