Frank R. Paul

(1884 — June 23, 1963)

Frank R. Paul was Hugo Gernsback’s principal artist for all his SF magazines, from the first issue of Amazing in 1926 to Science-Fiction Plus in 1953, Gernsback’s last venture in the field (Paul had also contributed art to Gernsback’s earlier magazines, Electrical Experimenter and Science and Invention, and he illustrated Gernsback’s classic SF novel Ralph 124C41+, published in 1925). Known at one time as “Mr. Science Fiction Illustration,” he is considered to be the first great SF pulp artist.

He was the first Worldcon Guest of Honor at Nycon, the 1939 Worldcon.

Frank Rudolph Paul was born in Austria and studied art in Vienna, Paris, and New York. His SF artwork was only as sideline, as he made his living illustrating textbooks. His major series of art includes “Cities on Other Worlds” in Amazing (December, 1940 to April, 1942); “Life on Other Worlds” in Fantastic Adventures (May, 1939 to November, 1940); “Mythology” in Fantastic Adventures (July, 1942 to June, 1944); and “Stories of the Stars” in Amazing (February 1943 to July 1946). He contributed art to most of the other SF magazines of the period as well, and has the distinction of drawing the cover for Marvel Comics #1 in 1939 [featuring The Human Torch]; he also drew the covers for Gernsback’s Superworld Comics in 1940. In 1953 he furnished much of the cover and interior art for Science Fiction Plus, Gernsback’s last SF magazine.

Paul also illustrated the Forecast pamphlets, sent each year by Gernsback to his friends and business associates as New Years cards. Although the major awards in SF did not exist during the period he was illustrating, he was the GoH at the very first Worldcon in New York (Nycon) in 1939 and voted a retrospective Gernsback Award (Artist) in 1983 [for the year 1936].

The speech Paul gave at Nycon, “Science Fiction, The Spirit of Youth,” is reprinted in The Science Fiction Roll of Honor (1975), edited by Frederik Pohl. The Special World Science Fiction Convention Issue of Science Fiction Times (June 1963) was a tribute to Paul, carrying his obituary and featuring his photo on the cover. Another obituary was published in the July 2, 1963 issue (Whole No. 13) of the newszine Fantasy Fiction Field.

He was nominated for the 1946 Best Professional Artist Retro Hugo.

Many examples of Paul’s artwork are included in Lester del Rey’s Fantastic Science Fiction Art, 1926-1954, published in 1975. The Frank R. Paul Award was later created to honor this artist who has been called the first major star of prozine art. Jerry Weist published book on Paul and (2000) has reported that Paul’s cover painting for Science Wonder Stories for September 1929 (the fourth issue) sold in the summer of 1997 for $14,000—and then later in 1998 for a combination cash/trade deal for $42,500; and in a 1999 Sotheby’s auction the bidding for Paul’s cover painting for Science Wonder Quarterly for Winter 1930 topped out at $76,750

He was GoH at Lunacon 2 in 1958 and was added to the SF Hall of Fame in 2009.

For more on his career, see http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/paul_frank_r