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Hickman, Stephen

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1949-2021) US artist working in the fields of both sf and fantasy, credited usually as Stephen Hickman, occasionally as Stephen F Hickman or Steve Hickman, and in a couple of early instances erroneously as Steven Hickman. He attended art school for two years at the Richmond Professional Institute (Virginia Commonwealth University) alongside such future luminaries as Michael W Kaluta, Phil Trumbo and Charles Vess. His introduction to the world of sf art came when he and Michael W Kaluta attended the 1967 New York Comics Convention, where they met artists like Frank Frazetta and Roy G Krenkel. Thereafter Hickman did some Fanzine illustration before, in 1972, gaining his first professional artistic job, producing teeshirt designs. In 1974 the Art Editor at Ace Books saw Hickman's portfolio and bought some items for stock art; with this sale, Hickman became a full-time professional artist. The first piece published was as the cover for Lady of the Bees (1976) by Thomas Burnett Swann. His first commissioned cover was for a reprint of Murray Leinster's The Brain Stealers (1954).

Hickman's greatest strength is arguably his use of colour. Working primarily in oils, he has developed several distinct styles appropriate for different subject matters. His sf art is crisp and clean; the best known examples are probably the covers he did for Larry Niven's Man-Kzin Wars series. His fantasy covers are, as one might expect, more introspective and painterly, sometimes romantic in a somewhat Pre-Raphaelite mode, sometimes quite stylized, with echoes of medieval illustration. It is estimated he has painted in excess of 400 book covers; he has been less prolific in magazine Illustration. His illustrations inspired by J R R Tolkien's works have appeared as prints and posters; of the two that appeared in Realms of Tolkien: Images of Middle-Earth (1996), one, The Black Rider, was used as the cover of the 1998 Tolkien Calendar. He has also done commercial fantasy/sf sculpture, including a Cthulhu statuette (see H P Lovecraft) and a chess set based on characters created by J R R Tolkien. His one novel was The Lemurian Stone (1988).

Hickman's solitary Hugo came in 1994, in the short-lived Original Artwork category: he received it for the postage-stamp illustrations collected in the US Postal Service's commemorative stamp booklet Space Fantasy (1993). He has been better recognized by the Chesley Awards, winning the lifetime Artistic Achievement category in 2000, four times (1996, 1998, 2000, 2007) winning the Unpublished Color Work category, and once (1990) the Paperback Cover category, for Gryphon (1989) by Crawford Kilian. In 1986 he received NESFA's first Jack Gaughan Award for Best Emerging Artist. [JGr]

Stephen Forrest Hickman

born Washington, District of Columbia: 9 April 1949

died New York: 16 July 2021




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