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Marcellino, Fred

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1939-2001) American artist, known for both his book covers and his illustrated children's books. Trained as a fine artist, Marcellino shifted in the 1960s to designing album covers, and in the 1970s he began producing book covers for major New York publishers. Never a specialist in sf, Marcellino was admired for interesting and sometimes abstract designs that widely influenced the entire industry, and he was regularly trusted to provide covers for best-selling authors like Judith Rossner, Anne Tyler, and Tom Wolfe. However, as sf gradually became more prestigious in the 1970s and 1980s, he also did covers for a number of noteworthy genre titles, beginning with Thomas M Disch's collection Getting into Death and Other Stories (coll 1976), which displayed the shadow of a smoking woman on a hospital bed. Other early titles include three Pern novels by Anne McCaffreyDragonsong (1976), Dragonsinger (1977), and Dragondrums (1979) – which depicted fire lizards in a stylized, almost playful manner. Major titles that Marcellino handled during the 1980s include the 1981 American edition of Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker (1980), with a cover showing a landscape filled with trees beneath a string of laudatory quotes, and the 1986 American edition of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985), with a cover portrayal of two robed women confined by a curved brick wall; the latter painting was also used as the cover for the Spring 1987 issue of Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction.

In the mid-1980s, Marcellino began to apply his artistry more to children's books, including an acclaimed version of Charles Perrault's Puss in Boots (1990) with affecting illustrations that earned him a Caldecott Award. After providing illustrations for several children's books by other authors, he finally wrote and illustrated his first children's book, I, Crocodile (1999), and he was working on its sequel when he died of colon cancer in 2001. A company, Pulcinella Press, was then established to promote his works, beginning with the publication of an illustrated biography, The Art of Fred Marcellino (2002). [GW]

Fred Marcellino

born New York: 25 October 1939

died 12 July 2001


  • The Art of Fred Marcellino (New York: Pulcinella Press, 2002) [graph: illustrated biography: text by Nicholas Falletta: pb/Fred Marcellino]


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