Worlds of If – part two

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My last post about the magazine Worlds of If generated quite a bit of interest so I thought I’d post a few more covers so you can see how it developed during its thirty year lifespan

Below are the first and last covers, from March 1952 and December 1974 respectively. The first cover bears no relation to anything. Take the spaceship out and you have a man threatening Lea the Leopard-woman and her pet straight out of a 1950s B movie poster. The last cover is pretty trippy, with Stonehenge and a customised pod from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It has the distinct feeling of this is the last issue so bugger it, let’s throw everything in.

After a directionless start cover art briefly became sensible, scientific and prophetic. Here is a picture of the first moon landing as foreseen in the October 1955 issue. At this point lunar landers were still sleek and groovy instead of looking like a flying bedstead with an enormous metal testicle on top.

However, ┬ájust in case we were in danger of getting too po-faced, here’s a wonderful Kelly Freas cover from a couple of months later showing a strangely-bosomed woman gladiator being fitted out with combat jewellery.

By the 1960s Worlds of If had pretty much established itself as a publication for quirky and imaginative stories. The artwork tended more towards cinematic action shots executed in a loose, fluid style using acrylics, rather than oils. On the cover of September 1966 issue an alarmed man in a red gimp suit is about to get his eyes poked out by two miniature spaceships.

In the 1970s the covers became a lot bolder, often combining realistic images with semi-abstract designs or striking palettes. They were definitely superior to the covers of Galaxy, which still suffered from the editors’ insistence on embedding every image in a frame. The cover below is one of my favourites, by the Hugo-winning SF artist Jack Gaughan.

2 Comments

  1. Great pair of posts on WORLDS OF IF (although you should hyperlink to the first one in your opening sentence; took me a while to find it). It’s interesting to note that the cover of the final issue you post above is by a 23-year-old Rick Sternbach, back when he was doing print work. He went on 13 years later in collaboration with Andrew Probert to design STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.

    • John Guy Collick says:

      Thanks for the comments – link added :). I knew of Sternbach from some of the work he did on GALAXY – but didn’t realised he’d ended up as a Star Trek artist.

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