The Fearless Science Fiction Amazing Stories Art of Robert Fuqua

The science fiction pulps of the 1920s and 1930s constitute one of the defining moments of the genre. The artists who illustrated those pulps influenced how we think of science fiction and even science itself to the present day. Even the best-known names who worked in that era — artists like Frank R. Paul and Alex Schomburg — are underappreciated for the role they played in pop culture history. But many more important pulp artists from the era are deserving of greater attention and recognition today. Joseph Wirt Tillotson, who used the name Robert Fuqua as a pulp painter and illustrator, is one such artist. There's a rare chance to get a piece of Robert Fuqua original pulp art from Amazing Stories Volume 13 #2, February 1939 at today's session of the 2021 January 14 – 17 Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction at Heritage Auctions.

Robert Fuqua art from Amazing Stories Volume 13 #2, February 1939, Ziff-Davis.
Robert Fuqua art from Amazing Stories Volume 13 #2, February 1939, Ziff-Davis.

Joseph Wirt Tillotson began learning the commercial art trade in his father's print shop in Greenville, Mississippi, creating advertising art for local businesses.  He attended the Art Institute of Chicago in the mid-1920s, and some time later began to work for Chicago magazine publisher Ziff-Davis using the name Robert Fuqua.  Tillotson became a prolific cover-artist and interior story illustrator for Ziff-Davis in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  When Ziff-Davis left Chicago, Tillotson began working for Raymond Palmer magazines Imagination and Other Worlds in the late 1940s to early 1950s.

The tale from Amazing Stories Volume 13 #2, February 1939 that this Fuqua piece illustrates is titled "Wanted: 7 Fearless Engineers!", written by Warner Van Lorne.  Van Lorne was the pen name of author Nelson Tremain.  A passage near the beginning of the story sets the tone for the world that this double-page title splash illustrates:

Wanted: An Engineer. Young man with love for electrical and mechanical work, who is not afraid of isolation. Have some knowledge of engineering, but general experience more desirable than specialized training. Must be willing to leave country, never to return; for which he will be well remunerated. Have no close family ties, and willing to submit to certain amount of danger. Will be isolated with few members of own race, but will have great opportunity to develop mastery of huge machines. Come prepared to leave for post immediately, without preparation. Every want will be taken care of by employers. This position is for lifetime, without opportunity of turning back after having accepted responsibility. GREAT OPPORTUNITY! Room 36, 18 W. Morgan Ave., City.

Robert Fuqua is an under-appreciated artist from one of the defining moments of science fiction history. There's a rare chance to get a piece of Robert Fuqua original pulp art from Amazing Stories Volume 13 #2, February 1939 at today's session of the 2021 January 14 – 17 Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction at Heritage Auctions.

Robert Fuqua art from Amazing Stories Volume 13 #2, February 1939, Ziff-Davis.
Robert Fuqua art from Amazing Stories Volume 13 #2, February 1939, Ziff-Davis.

Robert Fuqua Amazing Stories V13#2 February 1939 Story Pages 8 and 9 Original Art (1939). Fuqua's work adds a wealth of science-fiction detail and palpable textures to the story "Wanted: 7 Fearless Engineers!" by Warner Van Lorne. Created in ink over graphite with white paint on thick illustration board with an image area of 13" x 12". The board is heavily toned due to age, has pinholes along the edges, adhesive residue, marginal production notes, small chips and tears along the edges, and edge wear. Signed in the lower left, and overall, the art is in Good condition.

About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.

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