The art of Ray Frederick Coyle, 1885–1924

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Another illustrator who died young, Ray Coyle’s short life no doubt explains why his work isn’t more visible today. The first two illustrations here are from a 1920s edition of Jurgen (1919), the scurrilous fantasy novel by James Branch Cabell which has been praised by enthusiasts of ironic comedy as diverse as Aleister Crowley and Michael Moorcock.

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Some of the illustrations in this Flickr set bear the date 1923 so they may have been Coyle’s last major work. Frank C Papé is the artist more commonly associated with Cabell, and while his art complements the author’s humour, Coyle’s elegant post-Beardsley style seems more suited to Jurgen’s worldly temperament.

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This beautiful drawing is one of six pieces from a memorial book, To Remember Ray Frederick Coyle, published in 1926. A stunning piece of art and this rebound edition has an equally stunning cover design by Jeannie Sack. If anyone has a link to other drawings in this series, please leave a comment.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Fantazius Mallare and the Kingdom of Evil

The art of Bob Pepper

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Forever Changes (1967) by Love.
Art by Bob Pepper, design by William S. Harvey.

Following yesterday’s post about Philip K Dick covers (and Erik Davis’s appraisal of the DAW cover), I decided to check out Bob Pepper’s work a bit more and it quickly became obvious I should have joined the dots with this particular artist years ago. Pepper’s work not only decorates one of the recognisable record sleeves of the late Sixties (above), he was working shortly afterwards as an illustrator on the celebrated series of fantasy reprints edited by Lin Carter for Ballantine books. Pepper’s connections with Elektra Records also saw him provide sleeve art for some of the eclectic releases on their Nonesuch label. What’s surprising to me now is the realisation that I’d been seeing his work for years in a variety of places and never noticed it was the same artist. Better late than never, I suppose.

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Four more Dick covers for a series of six published in 1982 to coincide with the release of Blade Runner. As with the cover for A Scanner Darkly (in the earlier post) these paintings are all portraits.

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A Voyage to Arcturus (1968) by David Lindsay.

It was the success of the publication of The Lord of the Rings in America which inspired Betty Ballantine to publish a line of fantasy classics in the late Sixties. The series began its run in 1969 and continued until 1974. Lin Carter was commissioned as editor and given free reign to choose any title he thought might be suitable with the result that many of the books in the series—obscurities such as Lud-in-the-mist by Hope Mirrlees—received their first paperback publication. Carter also reprinted personal favourites which frequently shifted from fantasy to outright horror, such as the titles from HP Lovecraft and William Hope Hodgson. The range and scope of this line is what makes the series so notable today and the books have become highly-collectable as a result. Many artists were involved in producing the distinctive cover designs and Pepper’s illustrations were featured on the covers for Mervyn Peake, Lord Dunsany and James Branch Cabell, among others. Unfortunately the various pages devoted to these books aren’t very good at showing the paintings to their best advantage. For a long time Pepper’s cover for A Voyage to Arcturus was one of the few editions available that managed to show a scene from the book, rather than a generic sword-wielding barbarian.

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The Wild Bull (1968) by Morton Subotnick.

Nonesuch Records was Elektra’s subsidiary classical music label which not only produced classical recordings but also recordings from around the world in their Explorer series, and a range of original works of contemporary electronic music. I’m not positive that the sleeve above is a Pepper painting but it certainly looks like it. This is another surprise since I’ve had Morton Subnotnick‘s album on a reissue CD for years (with different artwork). The George Crumb recording below is Pepper’s work and I’ve had the original vinyl of that one for several years. The similarity between that sleeve and the one for Love is striking.

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Flesh (1969) by Philip José Farmer.

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Golden Rain – Balinese Gamelan Music – Ketjak: The Ramayana Monkey Dance (1969) by Various Artists.
Art by Bob Pepper, design by William S. Harvey.

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Ancient Voices of Children (1971) by George Crumb.
Art by Bob Pepper, design by Robert W. Zingmark.

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Driftglass (1971) by Samuel R. Delany.

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Debussy’s Greatest Hits (1972).

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Concerto For Harpsichord And Five Instruments by Manuel De Falla (no date).

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Ellison Wonderland (1974) by Harlan Ellison.

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Fiestas of Peru: Music of the High Andes (1975) by Various Artists.
Art by Bob Pepper, design by Jo Ann Gruber.

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Flower Dance: Japanese Folk Melodies (no date) by Kofu Kikusui, The Noday Family, Nakagawa & Oishi.
Art by Bob Pepper, direction by William S. Harvey, design by Elaine Gongora.

Pepper is retired now but produced artwork for Dark Tower, a fantasy boardgame, in 1981. The game still has its enthusiasts, and this site features a short interview with the artist.

Update: more about the Ballantine covers.

Update 2: a large scan of the George Crumb cover art.

Update 3: More album and book covers added.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive
The book covers archive
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton}
Philip K Dick book covers
Masonic fonts and the designer’s dark materials