Hubert Rogers
(Canadian/American, 1898-1982)

Hubert Rogers’ work is known for its subdued quality and color palette with an emphasis on the dramatic posing of figures rather than scenes of action or violence. He often used symbolism to capture the content of the stories he illustrated and he will be remembered as one of the most important and influential science fiction artists of the 1940s.

 

Canadian-born Rogers moved to New York in 1925 to begin his career in illustration working for the New York Herald Tribune, hardcover publishing houses and weekly pulp magazines including Adventure and Argosy. By 1939 he did his first cover for Astounding Science Fiction and would contribute fifty-eight more covers to this pulp magazine until 1952. This period was interrupted for five years by World War II in which Rogers stopped creating science fiction paintings to turn his attention to Canadian war posters. Later in life, Rogers established himself as a portrait painter and was commissioned to paint prominent Canadian political figures.

In an era when garish covers were the norm, Rogers brought style and class to the science fiction pulp field. Rogers' more restrained and dignified depictions of heroism and futuristic scenes set Astounding apart from its competitors. His paintings and interior illustrations rarely featured action but were pictures of people in dramatic poses. There was no violence in his paintings and rarely any bug-eyed monsters. Instead, his art was muted, subdued, and often symbolic of the content of the stories. He was technically skilled, and much of his art resembled that of J. C. Leyendecker in both form and composition. It was Rogers' cover illustration for Gray Lensman by E. E. Smith that defined that character for most readers. His May, 1947 cover art for Fury by Henry Kutner was often identified as one of the finest science fiction painting ever done for Astounding. Rogers frequently did straightforward portraits of the leading characters of the story as interior illustrations, a practice that had been used for years in other Street & Smith magazines but one that was new to the science fiction genre. This influenced Kelly Freas and Jack Gaughan to adopt the practice also.

Frank, Jane. A Biographical Dictionary: Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists of the Twentieth Century. Published by McFarland & Company, Inc.,

Jefferson, North Carolina, and London, 2009. p. 396-7.