As I've blogged before I've always loved John Schoenherr's fabulous Moon Crawler painting pictured above, which he painted in 1961 for the cover of Analog magazine that year. It also featured in a number of other space publications. It is my favourite Sci Fi vehicle painting of all time. Sadly the artist died in April 2010.
About 18 months ago I began corresponding with John's son, Ian, himself an illustrator and children's book author in New York. During our correspondence Ian discovered two sketched paintings by his Father, which were clearly further studies of his Moon Crawler! As you can imagine I was very excited and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw them. They are truly awesome. To think that they are most likely part of the inspiration for the SWORD Moon Crawler in 1967 sends a shiver up my spine!
Terrifically Ian has kindly agreed to allow me to publish the two paintings for the first time online here [they did appear in my final SWORD article for FAB magazine, #69, this year but were too small to see any detail] and without further ado I'll let Ian explain:
"Dear Paul, I don't think Dad ever knew about his influence on these toy makers - at least I don't recall him mentioning anything like that. Then again, I was still pretty young when Dad's science fiction work trailed off.
I wish we had the original art for the moon crawler cover, but Dad sold off many - most - SF things soon after creating them. I have two unpublished preliminary studies, however, which I've attached [below]. I assume he made these to show John Campbell (the editor of Analog, who most likely wrote the text about the cover) and then Campbell - and/or possibly the art director - chose which concept more effectively depicted what was described.
I was going to mention that Mission of Gravity cover to you. It wasn't a series at all - the subjects Dad painted were very much luck of the draw and his paperback work generally had no connection with the magazine work, except, I guess, by accident or coincidence.
Dad was also very fond of cars - sports cars especially - and other "streamlined" vehicles, like WWII-era aircraft - nicely rounded, semi-organic-looking forms, etc. - and I think he'd try to work such things into his SF pictures when he could. And, naturally, a lot of his vehicles and aliens and landscapes have much in common with each other.
Often things like the moon crawler just came "out of Dad's head" - but his head was full of automobiles and aircraft and a basic knowledge of geology, gravity, physics, biology, and so on - all of which helped him create convincing space craft and aliens and worlds.
Over the years, Dad also assembled files of photos and pages extracted from magazines to help inspire the places and things he depicted in his science fiction illustrations. And in the file he titled "SF VEHICLES / LAND / ROUGH SURFACE" there's a clipping from LIFE magazine (November 11, 1957) which must have contributed to his concept of the moon crawler. You can see it here.
I'm trying to fully catalog Dad's illustrations, especially the SF ones (for a book, ostensibly), so I'll keep an eye out for more vehicles. Congratulations on your anniversary!
I think it'll be fine to show those sketches, etc. Send me a link to the article when you post it and I'll spread the word.
......and here they are! Feast your eyes!
Above two images the property of Ian Schoenherr.
Reproduced here with the owner's permission.