In science fiction and fantasy circles, artist Virgil Finlay is quite rightly held in high esteem. But because most of his output appeared in pulp magazines between the 1930s and 1950s his remarkable paintings and monochrome line drawings haven’t really attracted a wider legion of admirers.
A new videocast from Pete Beard will, hopefully, make some new converts among viewers of the channel.
Virgil Finlay (23rd July 1914 – 18th January 1971) was an American pulp fantasy, science fiction and horror illustrator, who Charles Collins called “part of the pulp magazine history … one of the foremost contributors of original and imaginative art work for the most memorable science fiction and fantasy publications of our time.”
While he worked in a range of media, from gouache to oils, Finlay specialised in, and became famous for, detailed pen-and-ink drawings accomplished with abundant stippling, cross-hatching, and scratchboard techniques. Despite the very labor-intensive and time-consuming nature of his specialty, over his long career, he created more than 2600 works of graphic art in his 35-year career. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Finlay in 2012.
Pete is of the opinion, rightfully, and I agree with him, that that many illustrators from the past got nothing like the attention they deserved. With that in mind, he decided to make some videos about a few of these almost forgotten talents, released on his marvellous Pete Beard Video Channel on Youtube. The videocasts not only chart the history of illustration, but single out particular artists, such as HM Bateman, Ludwig Hohlwein, Mervyn Peake, NC Wyeth, and many others.
“The unsung heroes series was originally intended to be about illustrators from what’s known as the golden age of illustration,” he says. “But I soon realised that meant ignoring many early 20th century illustrators who strictly speaking didn’t fit that description. So I compromised and ended up with parameters of those born between 1850 and 1910.
“There are also videos about individual illustrators who are personal favourites of mine, mostly but not exclusively from the early 20th century. And there are a range of others on various aspects of illustration, such as children’s books, advertising, art deco or a certain historical period. If it’s illustration then it has my interest. And I very much hope it has yours, too.”