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Aldridge, Alan

Entry updated 23 September 2022. Tagged: Artist, Author.

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(1943-2017) UK artist and author, active from about 1963, initially as an illustrator for The Sunday Times Magazine. He created a number of striking sf covers in his distinctive quasi-psychedelic airbrushed style for Penguin Books, first as a freelance and then as Penguin's art director from 1965 to 1968, when he moved on to his own graphic design company INK. Aldridge's most prolific year at Penguin was 1967, with memorable cover art for J G Ballard's The Wind from Nowhere (October 1961 New Worlds as "Storm-Wind"; rev 1962), Alfred Bester's Tiger! Tiger! (October 1956-January 1957 Galaxy as "The Stars My Destination"; 1956; rev vt The Stars My Destination 1957; rev 1996), Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room! (August-October 1966 SF Impulse; 1966; vt Soylent Green 1973), Frank Herbert's Destination: Void (August 1965 Galaxy as "Do I Wake Or Dream?"; 1966; rev 1978) and further paperback reprints. Aldridge also created posters and music album covers, the latter including A Quick One (1966) by The Who.

The Penguin Book of Comics: A Slight History (1967; rev 1971; rev 1990) with George Perry was for its day a useful survey of Comics; Phantasia: Of Dockland, Rockland, and Dodos (1981 chap) comprises text and illustrations devoted to the City of London and other venues, with some fiction added. Aldridge's best known picture book is perhaps The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper Feast (1973), with William Plomer, who considerably expanded the original text of the 1802 fantasy poem "The Butterfly's Ball, and the Grasshopper's Feast" by William Roscoe (1753-1831). The lavish illustrations by Aldridge and Harry Willock of the partly anthropomorphized insects and small animals who attend the titular parties could easily pass as exotic Aliens. This book won the 1973 Whitbread Award for best children's book.

Aldridge's fiction includes The Gnole (1991), written with Steven R Boyett and illustrated by Aldridge with Maxine Miller and Harry Willock, an ambitiously illustrated Ecological fable in which the planet is seen to be at risk. As much of it is set in Manhattan, The Gnole is also a New York fantasy. From October 2008 to January 2009 the Design Museum in London hosted "Alan Aldridge – the Man with the Kaleidoscope Eyes", a retrospective exhibition of the artist's work, accompanied by the collection The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes (graph 2008; vt The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes: The Art of Alan Aldridge 2009).

Aldridge's work as an illustrator was in general extremely influential (for good and ill) on fantastic art at its most purely decorative, ornate and sentimental. [DRL/JC]

Alan Aldridge

born London: 1 June 1943

died Los Angeles, California: 17 February 2017

works (selected)



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