Hannes Bok

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Hannes Bok

Hannes Bok (July 2, 1914-April 11, 1964) is an American artist who played a major part in the development of early science fiction fanzines.

As soon as Bok graduated from high school in Duluth, Minnesota, he began hitchhiking his away around the country and ended up in Seattle where he became involved with the world of science fiction fandom which was centered around fanzines.

The artist's friend, writer Emil Petaja, says that during the 1930's Depression Bok lived in a shack at the Seattle dump with the stray cats and used any flat surface he could to create his art on. An early Bok painting owned by Petaja was painted on a piece of rusted metal. A sketch owned by writer and artist Clark Ashton Smith was done in crayon since Bok couldn't afford oil paints. But in the mid-thirties he visited his idol Maxfield Parrish at his New Hampshire farm, and Parrish was impressed enough by Bok's talent that he gave him an expensive set of oil paints and brushes.

In 1936, Parrish met Emil Petaja and did illustrations for Petaja's chapbook, Brief Candle. In 1937 they relocated to Los Angeles and for the next two years they were sharing an apartment there. During this time they met Ray Bradbury at a meeting of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society. Bok did the cover art for all four issues of Bradbury's fanzine Futuria Fantasia. Bradbury was so impressed by Bok's art that when he attended the first Science Fiction Convention in New York in 1939, he brought along Bok's art to show to publishers there, and got him his first art job. He began working for the legendary pulp magazine Weird Tales and moved to New York. Even while pursuing his career as professional artist, he still continued to contribute to fanzines.

In 1948 Charles Beaumont (Utopia) under the imprint "Utopia Publications", published a portfolio consisting of eleven plates of Hannes Bok's illustrations. It was the first such publications not released by Bok himself.

Bok also wrote poetry and fiction. He wrote the novels The Sorcerer's Ship, as well as The Blue Flamingo, later retitled Beyond the Golden Stair. As well, he was an astrologer, writing a number of articles about astrology for Mystic Magazine, and in his later years became interested in the occult.

After his death, Emil Petaja founded the Bokanalia Foundation in 1967 to preserve Bok's legacy. The foundation was set up with the help of Harold Tave, Ray Bradbury, and the Golden Gate Futurians of San Francisco. Petaja published three portfolios of Bok's work between 1967 and 1979, much of it from his own collection, and wrote a commemorative volume And Flights of Angels, which included a biographical essay. Later the Foundation also published a collection of Bok's poetry, Spinner of Silver and Thistle. In the 1970s, Gerry de la Ree published a number of small press limited-edition books devoted to Bok's art.


(This is a list of fanzines Hannes Bok contributed to during his lifetime)