Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dragon's Eye: Jerome Bixby

Although many of you may not know the name Jerome Bixby, there's a good chance you're familiar with the man's work.

Remember that Billy Mumy episode of the old B&W Twilight Zone? (Okay, there's actually three episodes of tTZ in which Mumy starred, so I'll be more specific). Remember that Billy Mumy episode of the old B&W Twilight Zone in which he possesses certain "magical" powers which allow him to read minds, control others, et al? Sure you do. Spielberg remade it as part of his Twilight Zone movie. Well... Bixby wrote the story on which the episode/segment were based. It first appeared in Star Science Fiction Stories No.2 from Ballantine Books in 1953 and, in 1970, was voted as one of the 20 finest science fiction stories ever written by the Science Fiction Writers of America.

In addition to his work as a sci-fi writer, he was also editor of Planet Stories from Summer 1950 to July 1951. Planet Stories was a the pulp mag offshoot of Planet Comics, and was actually funded by the comic's success.

Given Bixby's background as a writer and editor, it was interesting to find the illustration above (obviously penned by him) in issue 61 of Planet Comics over at the Digital Comic Museum. Especially considering it accompanied a short story by Thornecliffe Herrick, the writer of the comic's The Lost World series. Although Bixby's illustration was published during the summer of 1949, I think it captures the same essence of the art of the earliest generations of RPGs from the early 1970s... art done by those who weren't always/necessarily professional artists, but with capabilities enough to execute those cool ideas. It just sort of "works."

BTW, it took me a while to realize that was probably a human space explorer of some sort clutched in the beast's fist.

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