Virgil Finlay

Virgil Finlay (July 23, 1914 – January 18, 1971) was an American pulp fantasy, science fiction and horror illustrator. He has been 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 specialized 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, Finlay created more than 2600 works of graphic art in his 35-year career.

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Finlay in 2012.

[Source: Wikipedia]

Master of exquisitely detailed images that often combined the sexual and the scary, Virgil Finlay was born in Rochester, New York in 1914. He was a highly prolific commercial artist in the midcentury years — one commentator went so far as to call Finlay “the most famous fantasy illustrator of mid-twentieth century.”

In his youth during the 1920s, Finlay discovered the magazines Amazing Stories and Weird Tales, which focused on sci-fi and horror, respectively. Once he reached adulthood in the mid-1930s he felt confident enough in his artistic prowess to try to get a position at those journals. Finlay’s mastery of stippling was so advanced that it nearly cost him a job at Weird Tales because his employers weren’t sure that their printing process could reproduce his fine detail, but it turned out that it could.

A key medium of Finlay’s was scratchboard, a method that incorporates a white clay coating covered in black ink—the artist scratches the black ink away with a scribe or knife, and the resultant effect is similar to a wood engraving. The technique is called “working from black to white,” whereas the more usual method...
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Kerry Santo


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