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Bruce Pennington

IN THE 1970s Bruce Pennington was one of the most famous and original British Fantasy artists on the scene. His work graced the covers of many of the classic novels that emerged then and are still revered today, examples of which decorate the border of this page.

Although he mostly retired from commercial illustration many years ago, Pennington was tempted back into action for this Book of the Vampire, written by Nigel Suckling and due to be published in September 2008.

Click on the cover or the Vampires link at the top of the page for samples.

Bruce Pennington

FANTASY ARTIST BRUCE PENNINGTON was born in 1944 in Somerset. Art was his main interest at school and after his family had moved to the south-east of England near London he began, around the age of 15, to attend evening classes at the nearby Beckenham School of Art, mostly doing life drawings from professional models. This led to being accepted there as a full-time student from 1960-62. From there he graduated to a two year painting course at Ravensbourne College of Art in Bromley.

By the end of his studies Pennington had become disenchanted with Fine Art and so, exchanging 'Fine Art boredom for Commercial Art whoredom' he began work in film posters whose boldness and vulgarity he felt to be a continuation of Pop Art, which had been one of his passions at college.

His first SF book cover was a commission in 1967 for Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. This led to many other SF covers for New English Library with whom for a while he felt he had found his artistic home, becoming one of their foremost cover artists. Not least of their commissions were for Frank Herbert's Dune series, but he worked for many other publishers and authors too.

In the early 70s Pennington moved on to Horror fiction, illustrating covers for authors such as Arthur Machen, H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth and Clark Ashton Smith. These dark and violent fantasies led to a misconception at the time that Pennington himself was some kind of gloomy pessimist. 'But the opposite is true,' he once said. 'These pictures are not my personal nightmares, just a subject for painting.' In practice his general demeanor is one of cheerful optimism.

Eschatus cover

Pennington's walk on the dark side culminated with the publication in 1977 of Eschatus, his interpretation in words and pictures of the prophecies of Nostrodamus. This was a very satisfying though exhausting project, after which he returned to book cover illustration with some relief.

The work that then came along was mostly in the Fantasy vein, for authors like Philip Jose Farmer, Gene Wolfe, Eric van Lustbader and A.E van Gogt.

Towards the end of the 80s Pennington moved away from commercial illustration in favour of more personal work, a chapter of which can be seen in Ultraterranium, a collection of his work published by Paper Tiger in 1991. Click on the link at the top of the page to see a selection of pictures from the book.

Other collections of his work published by Paper Tiger were The Bruce Pennington Portfolio 1990, containing 28 large-format (A3) prints, and a miniature book in 1994 with 20 exquisite little spreads, a sample of which you can also see from the link at the top of the page.

To contact Bruce Pennington, click HERE to have a message forwarded to him.

Stranger in a Strange Land Dune Dune Messiah Dune Messiah Arthur Machen Vol 2 Night Monsters

Time, Space and Nathaniel Pirates of the Asteroids Equator New Maps of Hell Storm Season Comic Inferno Dark Light Years

Technicolor Time Machine The Canopy of Time The Moons of Jupiter The Glory Road The Sword of the Lictor The Pastel City A Princess of Mars