“Just Around the Corner” by Frank Kelly Freas. This painting appeared on the cover of Fantastic Universe Science Fiction in 1955.
Frank Kelly Freas was known as the “Dean of Science Fiction Art,” and was the second artist to be inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. For fifty years Freas’ work appeared in all kinds of science fiction publications beginning with his first sale to Weird Tales in 1950. In 1957, Freas would hook up with MAD magazine painting nearly every cover of MAD until 1962. His spectacular artwork has appeared on the covers of books by some of sci-fi’s most celebrated authors such as Poul Anderson, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov. He has been nominated for the prestigious Hugo Award twenty times—winning eleven—more than any other artist in history. In addition to his work in sci-fi, Freas also contributed to another organization obsessed with outer space—NASA—and many of Freas’ posters done for NASA hang in the Smithsonian. Lastly, if you still need to be convinced of Freas’ impact to the art world, he also collaborated with Queen in 1977 at the request of Queen drummer, Roger Taylor.
According to Taylor, he pitched the idea of using Freas’ artwork of a giant robot called “The Gulf Between” from the cover of an issue of Amazing Science Fiction published in October of 1953. After reaching out to Freas, the artist agreed to paint the cover for the band’s 1977 album News of the World with a few modifications. For the album cover, the robot, named Frank, naturally, is clutching the lifeless, bloody bodies of Freddie Mercury and Brian May, while poor John Deacon and Roger Taylor (Taylor is pictured on the back of the album) fall to the ground. In addition to the iconic album cover, Freas also created the poster artwork featuring his menacing robot for the News of the World Tour. And since I’m a special kind of Queen nerd, I should mention, to help further promote the record in the UK, EMI created a small number of four-and-a-half-foot Franks to be used as record displays in high-end record stores. In 1997 Sideshow Collectables put out a God Of The Robots Model Kit based on Frank—which is, sadly, nearly impossible to find just like the record store promotional Frank.
Much of Freas’ extraordinary work has been published in two books, 1978’s The Art of Science Fiction, and the 2000 book Frank Kelly Freas: As He Sees It.
Artwork by Freas for the story “The Times Techs of KRA” by Max Sheridan published in Planet Stores in the fall of 1954.
The fantastically trippy “The Lions Game.”
Unpublished artwork by Freas.
“The Hard Way Up” mixed media on burlap, 1972.
“Heavyweight Champion of the World” published in Worlds of Science Fiction, 1955.
“Passage to Anywhere” 1956.
Freas’ famous painting “The Piper” 1975.
The legendary artwork for Queen’s 1977 album, ‘News of the World.’
More artwork by Freas for ‘News of the World.’ This image was combined with the one below for ‘News of the World’ tour posters.
The exceedingly rare Frank record display.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Far-out sci-fi album art for ELO, Giorgio Moroder, Earth, Wind & Fire and more by Shusei Nagaoka
Monsters from Outer Space: Glorious covers for German sci-fi magazine ‘Terra’
SatoMasochism: The sci-fi erotica of Pater Sato
Surreal sci-fi-horror artwork by prolific Dutch painter Karel Thole
The master of Moorcock: The psychedelic sci-fi book covers and art of Bob Haberfield
Visual Futurist: Step inside the sci-fi world created by ‘Blade Runner’ visionary Syd Mead