Korero Press have launched a Kickstarter for designer, illustrator and comic creator Rian Hughes latest book, Rayguns and Rocketships, a glorious celebration of 1950s and and 1960s British SF paperback cover art.
We previously trailed this title last August, and the Kickstarter for this resplendent compendium of outstanding science fiction illustration – Rian’s first – has already smashed its modest target, with just under a month left to run.
Rayguns and Rocketships, not to be confused with the board game of the same name, although you might like that too, is introduced by Bear Alley publisher and archivist Steve Holland, who has charted the careers of many an author and artist involved in creating the books inspired by this collection.
“Rayguns and rockets! Spacesuited dames caught in the tentacles of evil insectoid aliens! Who could resist such wonders?” The publisher enthuses. “Science fiction paperbacks exploded over the 1940s and ’50s literary landscape with the force of an alien gamma bomb.
“The stories were often conceived around a pre-commissioned cover and a title suggested by the publisher, and the writers were paid by the word, and sometimes not paid at all. Titles were knocked out at a key-pounding pace, sometimes over a weekend, by authors now lost to literary history (plus a few professionals who could spot an opportunity) who were forced to write under pseudonyms like Ray Cosmic, Steve Future, Vector Magroon, or Vargo Statten.
“Despite the tight deadlines and poor pay, the books’ cover artists still managed to produce works of multi-hued, brain-bending brilliance, and collected here is an overview of their output during an unparalleled period of brash optimism and experimentation in publishing. Includes scans taken from rare original art!”
Featured will be titles such as Mushroom Men From Mars by Rick Conroy, writing as Lee Stanton, published in 1951, Dawn of the Mutants, by Lionel Fanthorpe, writing as Lionel Roberts, published in 1959, and Rodent Mutation!, also by Fanthorpe under the pseudonym Bron Fane, published in 1961, appeared from fly-by-night publishers, some, in the early part of the 1950s, at least, making the most of the end of post-war paper rationing. They were brash and seductive – and for a shilling, the future was yours.
Rian Hughes is an award-winning graphic designer, illustrator, comic artist, author, and typographer who has worked extensively for the British and American advertising, music and comics industries. Rian’s latest novel, The Black Locomotive, was released earlier this month. He’s also written books about design and illustration, including Cult-ure: Ideas can be Dangerous and Custom Lettering of the ’20s and ’30s. Many of his comic strips were collected in Yesterday’s Tomorrows, and his font foundry, Device, has released over 200 original designs since 1994.
Korero Press is a London-based publisher. At the heart of everything they do is a love of lowbrow and kustom kulture. Their list is mainly made up of pop culture, street art, erotica and horror titles, and they’ve published books by such renowned contemporary artists as Ron English, Patrick J. Jones and Derek Yaniger. You can buy their books in traditional bricks and mortar bookshops, or directly from their websiteand elsewhere online.
Already funded, now the push is on to ensure Rayguns and Rocketships hits its stretch goals, a way for Korero Press to offer an additional thank you as the campaign grows.
These are, currently, if the campaign reaches £5000 in funding, a double-sided bookmark set for free to everyone who pledges for the £40 signed edition of the book; and at £10,000, the book will be enhanced a ribbon bookmarker and foil blocking on the front board under the dust jacket, making the book even more attractive and desirable.
Please be aware some but by no means all of Korero Press titles include adult imagery
• If 1950s British science fiction is an interest, then be sure to subscribe to Philip Harbottle’s 1950s “British Science Fiction” videocast on YouTube, where the author, who has assisted the creation of Rayguns and Rocketships, has been sharing some of the treasures from his unique collection