Richard M. Powers

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Richard M. Powers (February 24, 1921 – March 9, 1996) was an American science fiction and fantasy fiction illustrator. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2008[1][2] and the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2016.[3]

Life and work[edit]

Born in Chicago into a Catholic family, Richard Michael Gorman Powers[4] spent most of his early life supported by his mother and aunt. His father left the family when Powers was young. At eleven, Powers was introduced to art when his uncle gave him a sketch book, although in later life[when?] his uncle's wife would try to prevent him from making any art[clarification needed]. He studied Greek at Loyola University before switching to art, taking classes at Mizen Academy, Chicago Art Institute and the University of Illinois at Chicago. After enlisting to join World War II, he took more art classes at the University of Kentucky during basic training, thereafter working in the Signal Corps in New York City. He married and began a career in illustrations for magazines and publishing houses, continuing his art education at The New School in New York.[5] Eventually, he became one of the most influential science fiction and fantasy fiction artists of all time.

He began by working in a conventional pulp-derived style, but quickly evolved a personal Surrealist idiom influenced by the cubists and surrealists, especially Picasso and Yves Tanguy. He also painted in a more purely abstract style and worked in collage at a later age before dying in 1996 at the age of 75.

From the 1940s through the 1960s, he did many of covers for Doubleday. During the 1950s and 1960s, he served as an unofficial art director for Ballantine Books.

Cultural influence[edit]

In 2010, Andy Partridge, former frontman of the British new wave band XTC released a limited edition CD of music inspired by Powers' art titled POWERS.[6]

Selected works[edit]

In 1952, Powers provided a Galaxy Science Fiction cover highlighting essays by de Camp and by Robert A. Heinlein


  • Spacetimewarp: Paintings (1983) (Doubleday Science Fiction Book Club)

Illustrated books[edit]

Powers provided interior illustrations for a number of Easton Press special editions of classic science fiction novels, including a 1986 editions of The Gods Themselves and To Your Scattered Bodies Go.

  • American Tall Tales, Adrien Stoutenburg, interior illustrations (Puffin, 1976) ISBN 978-0-14-030928-7
  • The Number of the Beast (1980), interior artwork and cover illustrations, first edition

Album covers[edit]

Book covers[edit]

The Internet Speculative Fiction Database catalogs hundreds of book covers illustrated by Powers beginning 1950 (two known).[4] These include:

Short stories[edit]

  • Three Acts With Ballet (1947) [9]


  1. ^ ""2008 Science Fiction Hall of Fame Ceremony Tickets On Sale May 15"". Archived from the original on May 10, 2008. Retrieved 2013-03-21.. Press release April/May 2008. Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame ( Archived 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  2. ^ "Powers, Richard" Archived 2012-10-16 at the Wayback Machine. The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index of Art Nominees. Locus Publications. Retrieved 2013-04-09.
  3. ^ Powers, Richard Gid. "2016 Hall of Fame Inductee : Richard Powers". Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  4. ^ a b c Richard Powers at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2013-04-09.
  5. ^ The Art of Richard Powers by Jane Frank
  6. ^ [1] Archived July 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Rca Victor LM-1900: Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique by Charles Munch
  8. ^ Chantry, A., & Rochester, M. R. (2015). Art Chantry Speaks : A Heretic’s History of 20th Century Graphic Design. Port Townsend, WA: Feral House.
  9. ^ January–February 1947 Story Magazine pages 85 to 92

External links[edit]