The Moody and Desolate Art of Bruce Pennington


In the process of finding art for my new Gene Wolfe post, I noticed that the artist, Bruce Pennington, turns seventy-five years young today. Bruce has been a fixture on the UK fantasy/scifi scene since the late ‘60s. Check the link here to see what Bruce has been up to for the last five decades.

What struck me once I looked at Bruce’s ISFDB page, was just how many cool covers he’d done in the sub-genres of sword and sorcery/heroic fantasy, sword and planet and Dying Earth fiction. Right in the DMR Books wheel-house!

I’d seen Pennington’s classic painting, “Armoured Horseman,” but only by itself or used as the cover for something else. I now know it was originally for Flashing Swords #2. I’d never seen his moody, atmospheric art for Cherryh’s heroic fantasy, Faery in Shadow. It blows away the cover for the US edition.

Bruce’s artwork for The Book of the New Sun and the Sunset Warrior trilogy—unleashed in a barrage of coolness in the early ‘80s—straddles the realms of Dying Earth and heroic fantasy. His cover for Clark Ashton Smith’s Lost Worlds may be one of the best depictions of Zothique ever put to canvas. Pennington’s art for Harrison’s far-future novel, The Pastel City, ain’t too shabby, either. When he takes us to the far-flung worlds of Barsoom and Callisto, Bruce nails it once again.

Looking at this plethora of great covers, all I can say is that I wish Bruce, who is no longer doing commissions, would’ve done some actual Jack Vance Dying Earth—or Planet of Adventure—covers back in the day. The same goes for Corum and Elric. Just imagine what he could’ve done with Hodgson’s The Night Land. In a better world…

Feel free to check out the gallery below and raise a glass to the health of Bruce Pennington. Cheers!

Bruce’s self-portrait.

Bruce’s self-portrait.