Ron Cobb, 1937–2020

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The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1959.

The death of American illustrator/cartoonist/designer Ron Cobb was announced yesterday. All the obituaries are concentrating on the designs he produced for Hollywood feature films so here’s an alternative view of a long and varied career.

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After Bathing At Baxter’s (1967) by Jefferson Airplane.

Cobb’s first album cover is his most famous, and probably his most familiar work outside his film designs, but there were a few more, some of which may be seen below. The San-Francisco-house-as-aircraft always reminds me of the car/plane hybrid piloted by Professor Pat Pending in the Wacky Races cartoons.

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Some Of Our Best Friends Are (1968) by Various Artists.

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Ecology symbol, October 1969.

Cobb’s copyright-free design for an ecology symbol was published in the Los Angeles Free Press in November, 1969. The “Freep” also ran Cobb’s cartoons, some of which were later collected in The Cobb Book (1975). Satire has a tendency to date very quickly but many of Cobb’s barbs are still relevant today.

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Undated cartoon.

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Doctor Druid’s Haunted Seance (1973).

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Poe With Pipes (1975) by John Carradine.

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Autumn Angels (1975) by Arthur Byron Cover.

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Concept art for Alien (1979).

Cobb’s designs for the Nostromo spaceship made it to the screen in Alien, unlike his concepts for the Space Jockey and the Alien itself which were replaced by HR Giger’s superior designs. (In fairness to Cobb, Giger couldn’t have designed the Nostromo…) The most intriguing unfilmed sequence in Alien concerned the discovery of a pyramid near the derelict spacecraft which was originally going to be the home of the Alien eggs. Cobb’s painting shows a temple-like interior with an eye-in-a-triangle motif on the wall together with a huge altar stocked with eggs.

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Video storyboard for Rough Boy (1985) by ZZ Top.

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The artists of Future Life