by Jesse Marinoff Reyes ( Jesse Marinoff Reyes Design, Maplewood, N.J.)
Illustration: Richard Powers (1921-1996)
George Oliver Smith (1911-1981), also known by the pseudonym Wesley Long, was a regular contributor to Astounding Science Fiction magazine and is amongst a cadre of formerly prominent science fiction authors from the Golden Age of science fiction who have since gone mostly out of print.
Once again, another outstanding science fiction cover by Richard Powers whom I have essayed previously on these pages. I could do one of these a month easily and not run out. There are a handful of paperback cover painters whose work I try to pick up religiously, and Powers, along with Frank Frazetta and Jim Steranko, are cover artists whose work I can’t pass up (not to mention the length of their careers has made for rather extensive “bibliographies” of their output, especially Powers).
JMR: …, the success of black characters in sci-fi and/or the comics depend upon good writers crafting good stories and characters—and the support of publishers and ultimately, readers. Blacks in most pop media, 1930-1960s were an afterthought. Started to change in the ’60s, ever so slowly. In comics, a lot depended on character popularity. Kirby did a lot in introducing black characters to comics (he even did a black romance comic). The Black Panther is pretty iconic, but according to critics was too African to be relatable to African American readers (dunno about that, but that’s the rap). Luke Cage, being an ex-con (wrongfully accused) was an uncomfortable stereotype (before Rap made prison culture fashionable). However, with more participation by black creators in the industry, we’re seeing more and better balanced portrayals. Note: Dwayne McDuffie was as great a comic creator (and television writer) as there was, and did more to better all comic characters in the 1990s-2000s. His untimely death earlier this year was a blow to the industry as a whole, and not just among black creators.