See below for an Obituary of Josh Kirby
A limited edition portfolio of 1200 copies, signed by the artist. In a gold-blocked and sepia printed folder. Published in 1980 by Schanes & Schanes, San Diego. Containing six full-colour varnished plates depicting an interplanetary Messiah – 'Departure', 'Arrival of the Ark', 'Adoration of the Imag', 'Death of a Spaceman', 'Deposition', and 'Assension'. An extremely rare and sought after item £95.00
From The Independent of 5 November 2001
The artist Josh Kirby was best known and appreciated for the lushly crowded cover paintings he created for Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, from The Colour of Magic in its 1985 paperback to this year's Thief of Time. Kirby's career as a professional artist began much earlier, though, as did his love of the fantastic.
Born in 1928 in Waterloo, Lancashire, he was christened Ronald William Kirby and acquired the nickname Josh while studying at the Liverpool City School of Art: "Some wag thought I painted like Sir Joshua Reynolds!" After a period of commercial work in film posters, he began selling book- and magazine-cover art in the mid-1950s. Fondly remembered early paintings include the jacket for the first Pan paperback of Ian Fleming's Moonraker in 1956, and a rousing space battle on a 1957 issue of Authentic SF magazine – illustrating a story by the up-and- coming science-fiction writer Brian Aldiss. "My first cover," Aldiss remembers. "It was a great event."
Kirby's SF painting style tended to feature bulbous, organic-seeming machines and strange lines of force. His list of acknowledged book covers, published in his 1999 art book A Cosmic Cornucopia, meticulously includes every painting with a touch of the fantastic, futuristic or horrific, while omitting "categories like War, Cowboy, Adventure, Romance . . . they don't hold any delights for me. And were done under sufferance so I could survive and paint on a daily basis." Thus his painting for a novelisation of The Camp on Blood Island (1958), highly regarded by connoisseurs of paperback art and even included as a vignette on Hammer's film poster, remained unacknowledged. Nevertheless his official list runs to more than 400 cover paintings.
A generation of British science-fiction fans remembers the 1960s Kirby covers for Ray Bradbury's The Silver Locusts and others, includingThe Illustrated Man – whose framing device, a man with animated tattoos that tell stories, particularly fascinated the artist. His string of paintings for Alfred Hitchcock's (usually ghosted) horror/suspense anthologies rang the changes on the director's familiar, bulky appearance, often building up the face from suitable images of horror, somewhere between that tattooed man and an Arcimboldo figure. Later portraits of Pratchett likewise show him as an illustrated man, his features alive with Discworld characters.
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