Barron Storey · Bill Sienkiewicz · Book/Magazine Covers (All) · Illustration Art · Look Here · Richard Powers

Look Here: Two SF covers, with art by Richard Powers


When I saw that second cover with the raggedly applied paint, the swooping linear accents, and the colourful little shapes fluttering along the edges of the forms, I immediately was reminded of certain works by Bill Sienkiewicz and by his teacher/mentor, Barron Storey. Like this well-known cover, for instance:

But would either Sienkiewicz or Storey recognize Powers as an influence? I have no idea…


The Powers Compendium — the images are tiny, but there sure are a lot of them! I see that the Compendium site also includes that same little scan of the wraparound Brain Wave cover.

Keywords: Brain Wave, The Planet of the Blind, Stray Toasters.

8 thoughts on “Look Here: Two SF covers, with art by Richard Powers

  1. I think Bill’s primary influences, besides Barron Storey, are Neal Adams (figures), Bob Peak (design), Ralph Steadman (visceral use of spattering), Gustav Klimt (esoteric symbols/shapes, such as the repetition of small triangles in the above image) and Egon Schiele (expressionistic shapes in figures/surrounding forms).


  2. In this interview from 17 July 2001 , for instance, Sienkiewicz extends his personal list of influences beyond Adams, Peak, Steadman, Klimt, and Schiele, and sensibly leaves open the possibility of incorporating new influences into his art as time goes by:

    MDT: Whom did you pick up as an influence after Neal [Adams]?

    BS: Some of them were obvious to those who know some of the illustrations. There were a lot of guys like Bob Peak… Ralph Steadman… just for his disregard for convention and would throw it up against the wall and see what stuck. I really admired that. I think that by using Neal as a drawing tool, as something to latch onto, I learned to run or walk before I learned to crawl. I had to — not quite unlearn — but learn how to pull things in by osmosis and let things touch me and influence me that had nothing to do with comics or Neal. Just something moved me, Bill Sienkiewicz.

    I found that there was a whole world of things that inspired me and moved me, from Tenielle wood cuts to the paintings by Richard Diebenkorn to Tex Avery, who I really admired. I love Diebenkorn’s whole ocean park series, based on the place he lived, the way he broke up shapes so geometrically, diagonally, abstractly and still we got the sense of light and atmosphere.

    And filmic influences, like David Lynch, who I also dig. At that point, it coalesced. Hopefully, we never stop learning. Teachers in school are supposed to teach you how to keep learning. They’re not supposed to give you anything dogmatically and let you coast for the rest of your life.

    Truth be told, I never noticed the Diebenkorn influence in Sienkiewicz’s art before he mentioned it. But I do see it now.


  3. BTW, turns out that Bill Sienkiewicz is listed as a participant in the forthcoming documentary on the life and choices of Jeffrey Catherine Jones. Does this mean we’ll have to add Jones to Sienkiewicz’s list of influences? Guess we’ll find out if and when the documentary is completed.

    (I do know that Sienkiewicz and Jones both contributed images to a portfolio called “The Strength of Man,” published by Blackthorne Publishing, Inc., but to my eye, there was very little in their styles at the time to suggest any cross-pollination.)


  4. I meant to cite Jones, but forgot after mentioning Klimt, also one of Jones’ heroes. Bill’s signature is clearly derived from Jones’ (the “J” with the dot in the middle, enclosed in a box).


  5. True enough. I had forgotten about that. But is Sienkiewicz still using that signature? I thought it was just a phase he went through…

    But now I’m curious, Chris: aside from the signature, and the effort to break from traditional controlled comic-book inking (which in Siekiewicz’s case, seems to me to have been more about Steadman and Schiele than Jones), what is it, specifically, that you see in Sienkiewicz’s art that betrays a Jones influence? Make the case for me.


  6. Though Sienkiewicz started out modelling his human figures after Neal Adams’ work, I’d say he later looked to Jeff Jones as an example of more naturalistic figure drawing, both in pencil and ink pen-and-ink. I’d say Jones’ loose inks and occasional spatter in “I’m Age” probably come closest in appearance to Bill’s work. But the easiest way to find out is to simply ask him; Bill’s email addy is on his website.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.