Four surprise vignettes in SFF cover art

Writers and artists have long been known for incorporating real people into their work as the basis for characters and destinations. In the SF field, this practice is known as tuckYet in his novels. SFF cover artists have also turned faces from time to time. But I have no idea what it’s called. Even if there is no name for this practice, it is He is Worked at SFF. Herewith, four salient ones [whatever it should be called] covers, featuring some familiar faces.

Michael Whelan Known (among other things) to read SFF works for which he provides covers, a practice that is by no means universal. He is also known for producing covers whose characters bear a striking resemblance to Michael Whelan. Well, it is useful to always have a form at hand.

Take Tully, from CJ Cherryh’s Pride Shanor, the sole survivor of a human ship who made the fatal mistake of getting lost in a small space. Although the surrounding hani is obscured, no doubt to protect the outcast human from the predatory kif, this is very clearly the upper half of Michael Whelan’s face, circa early 1980s.

Ed Emchueller He was a popular and prolific SFF artist in the 1950s and early 1960s, and is one of the very few SFF artists to make anything like a living in this trade. Imsch (as he used to sign his works) was famous for using his wife, Carol Emschweiler (an author and artist in her own right) as a model. One might very reasonably expect an example of one such example here. However, there are so many excellent examples that I found it impossible to pick just one. Instead, I made an unlikely choice for Emsh’s archetype: the cartoonist Bill Griffithin the form of a young man piloting a spaceship.

Judy Lee She may be known to the organizers of for the many covers she has produced for books of the genre by Jo Clayton, Mercedes Lackey, and Midori Snyder. However, it is her work on board games that I want to focus on. Specifically, Lee’s stunning cover of runquest3Research and development Edition, appearing as models for famous author Kate Elliott as well as her husband (Elliott).

And the runquest is a brawler simulation RPG that attempts to provide realistic possibility in terms of non-magical items, and thus impressively realistic weapons and armor on warriors.

James Warhola, the promising young nephew of Andy Warhol, somehow gained four decades of experience despite debuting in the 1980s. (I don’t really understand the new math.) Among the hundreds of covers Warhola has created over the course of his nearly half-century career is an illustration for the cover of Tor’s 1999 issue of Callahan Bar by Spider Robinson.

I note that one of the characters who treats life’s tragedies with alcohol and mutual solace is a very familiar face: the author’s Spider Robinson. Well, I suppose frequenting the tavern would make documenting the goings-on there easier.


And being unfamiliar with what most authors look like in real life, there are no doubt many worthy examples that I have overlooked. Feel free to mention them (or at least the pretty pictures) in the comments, as always, below.

In the words of fanfiction author Musty181A four-time Hugo finalist, a prolific, and enduring book reviewer Darwin Prize nominee James Davis Nicole “Looks like a virtual Mi with glasses on.” His work has appeared in Interzone, Publishers Weekly, Romantic Times, as well as on his own websites, James Nicol Reviews (assisted by editor Karen Lofstrom and web person Adrienne L. Travis) and 2021 and 2022 Aurora Prize Final old youth reads sff (assisted by web person Adrienne L. Travis). his patreon They can be found here.

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