The look of Vance…

I’ve been engaged in discussions, considerations, and deliberations about all maner of things to do with Jack Vance of late (as regular readers will now). There’s been the matter of stories to be shortlisted, read, interstitial materials to be considered etc etc as the structure of The Jack Vance Treasury is sketched out.

Now, while the important details are known – it’s a 175-200,000 word book with a cover by Tom Kidd, an intro by George Martin and a foreword by Jack Vance – there are other details that I have been chatting with my co-editor about. The major one today is the illustration of Vance’s stories by Jack Gaughan.

As many of you will know, the late Jack Gaughan was a well-known and well-respected artist who did a lot of science fiction illustration in the ’50s and ’60s for the magazines, pulps etc etc. He illustrated a number of Jack Vance stories and novels, perhaps most famously both “The Dragon Masters” and “The Last Castle” for Galaxy in the 1960s. My question for Coode Streets with a Vancean bent is what are your thoughts on the appeal of the Gaughan Vance illustrations? Are they spot on, or do they miss the mark today? I’m curious to hear as many opinions as possible, so let me know and feel free to fire up the Vance telegraph and have the Vancephiles post to the comments thread.

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6 Comments

  1. I think the interior illustrations for Dragon Masters would recycle pretty well–better, I suspect, than those for The Last Castle. There are a couple larger ones (a battle scene with dragon types labelled and “Basic on Mount”) that are particuarlyl striking.

    I wonder whether Phyllis and Alex Eisenstein (who put together the stunning Chicon illustration retrospective a few years back) might know who has the rights and maybe even the originals.

  2. If there is any way to reprint Gaughan’s illustrations from Galaxy to “The Dragon Masters” for the Vance edition, please do so. I think “The Dragon Masters”‘s Hugo award was as much for the art (including the map on the title page) as the story.

    Speaking of art, Kelly Freas’ illustrations to “The Miracle Workers” would be fun to include as well – particularly the one featuring portraits of JW Campbell, Randall Garrett & Robert Silverberg.

    Don’t let anyone pursuade you otherwise – “Dodkin’s Job” (pace Dozois) is a mandatory item for the Treasury.

  3. The Gaughan illustrations have personality and a charm of their own, but they play fast and loose with the story and are highly stylized in a now altogether dated way. I am perplexed by the enthusiasm they inspire in some people.

  4. Jack himself gives credit to Gaughan’s Dragon Masters illos for calling attention to the story and boosting its Hugo Award prospects. But if you illustrate one (or two) stories, what do you do with the rest? I suppose I suffer the defect of inane consistency, but will the book be “a treasury of” or “an illustrated treasury of”.

  5. I think there is no doubt that the Gaughan illos contributed to the reception of the Galaxy appearance of The Dragon Masters, but I have to agree with Paul Rhoads’ characterization of them.

    For the VIE, Paul executed a series of drawings of the dragons, based on Jack’s own highly detailed descriptions of them, in a long letter that the VIE discovered in the Jack Vance collection at the Mugar Memorial Library’s Special Collections at Boston University. His modesty in neglecting to mention this fact, while in other contexts commendable, denies the editors of this anthology the opportunity to consider using them. I wish with this post to remedy the omission. I hope you will seriously consider using them.

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