Art of Science Fiction 079: Richard Hescox

Today we have a special treat for you. Richard Hescox is a legend in his own right and a fan favourite of those who love Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Venice and Kenneth Bulmer’s Dray Prescott series of books, written under the pen name Alan Burt Akers.

During his career as a book cover illustrator, Richard provided covers and interior illustrations to hundreds of science fiction and fantasy books, From Edgar Rice Burrough’s Venus to John Norma’s Gor series and more. In 2012, George R.R. Martin asked him to create 70 paintings and ink drawings for the Subterranean Press limited edition of A Clash of KingsMartin had this to say on his blog when he revealed the project:

“For those unfamiliar with his work, suffice it to say that Hescox is a veteran SF and fantasy artist and illustrator, and that I’ve loved his stuff for a long time, especially his oil paintings. We’ve already been firing emails back and forth, and Richard is as enthused as I am. I cannot wait to see him bring my world and characters to life.”

Interesting story, Neal Adams recommended Richard’s work to Marvel Comics after seeing his Frank Frazetta inspired illustrations exhibited at the 1973 San Diego Comic-Con. The first of Richard’s covers for Marvel was done for Monsters Unleashed #7 in August 1974, and so began his career in earnest.

During the 1980s, Richard created advertising art for the movie industry, for cult classics like Escape from New York (1981), Time Bandits (1981), Swamp Thing(1981)The Dark Crystal (1982), The Neverending Story (1982), Conan the Barbarian (1984), and The Fly (1986). He was also the production illustrator for Galaxy of Terror (1981), The Philadelphia Experiment (1983), and Eliminators (1986).

Between 1995 and 1998 he helped develop and design the concept art for the game Rama, based on the Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama, including the sequels with Gentry Lee. He continued on from there working at Sierra On-Line as art director and as a freelance concept artist for other computer-game companies, including Microsoft Games.

Richard won the New England SF Association’s Jack Gaughan Award for best emerging artist in 1991 – fifteen years after his SF-illustration career began. He has been nominated for several Chesley Awards, winning in 2003 for his Unpublished Colour Work The Storm.

Richard was kind enough to provide us with a few images of his science fiction paintings used for covers during the 70s and 80s and 90s. Some you won’t find even on his website. Enjoy!












Richard was one of the founding artists of the Imaginative Realism movement, propelling fine art into the realm of fantasy and science fiction and inspiring many others to follow in his footsteps. His paintings are highly sought after, drawing attention from many collectors and publishers around the world.

In my email exchange with Richard, I asked him about his creative process and how he approached a cover commission.

I would always read the book (assuming that it had already been written. Sometimes this wasn’t the case!) and hunt out each descriptive word from the author so that I could be as accurate to the book and the author’s vision as possible.  Then when I had determined what was NOT described, I could let my imagination go on those aspects to try to make an image that was intriguing and different.

His favorite artists include John Berkey, John Schoenherr, Stanley Meltzoff, Roy Krenkle, and Frank Frazetta. They inspired him as a young artist and continue to do so even now. And, of course, I had to ask him about his favorite authors, and he did not disappoint: Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Wyndham, Robert Heinlein, and H. G. Wells.

If you want to see more of Richard’s work, please visit his website here.


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Woelf Dietrich

Woelf Dietrich mostly writes tales of dark fantasy and the supernatural, which is maybe not such a far cry from his lawyering days. Sometimes he writes other things. He resides in New Zealand with his wife and kids and a dog.

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