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Matthews, Rodney

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1945-    ) British illustrator. After he studied at the West of England College of Art from 1961 to 1962, Matthews initially worked in advertising, while also drumming for the rock group Squidd. In 1970, he left advertising to focus on doing art for album covers, which has remained one of his primary avocations; perhaps his best known effort in this area is his cover for Nazareth's No Mean City (1979), depicting a menacing humanoid monster on a barren landscape, rendered mostly in shades of blue, though he also produced several extravagantly otherworldly covers for albums by Asia. But his work in music brought him into contact with Michael Moorcock, who became a friend and helped him garner assignments to paint book covers, beginning with two books by Moorcock and the first three covers of the short-lived magazine Vortex. He also dabbled in writing and illustrating children's books, most prominently an adventure entitled Yendor (1978) (his first name spelled backwards, and also the name of his son).

Matthews has worked in various media, mostly watercolour, gouache and ink, and his art can be described as bizarre, whimsical, often spiky, and weirdly coloured, with trademark images that include fantastic animals and thorny cities. His cover for a 1978 edition of Andre Norton's Web of the Witch World (1964), depicting a dinosaur-like creature emerging from a swamp to stare at a crashed spaceship, epitomizes the atmospheric strangeness of his best work. In the 1980s, his book covers grew infrequent as he focused more on original artwork for posters, album covers, and a series of successful Fantasy calendars, and Paper Tiger published several compilations of his art. Matthews has remained active as an artist, although his website suggests that his social life remains centred in the world of rock music where his artistic career began. [PN/GW]

Rodney Clive Matthews

born Paulton, Somerset: 6 July 1945


  • Back to Earth (Purton, Wiltshire: Child's Play (International) Ltd, 1975) [children's fiction: hb/Rodney Matthews]
  • Blast Off (Purton, Wiltshire: Child's Play (International) Ltd, 1975) [children's fiction: hb/Rodney Matthews]
  • The Journey (Purton, Wiltshire: Child's Play (International) Ltd, 1975) [children's fiction: hb/Rodney Matthews]
  • Yendor (London: Big O Publishing, 1978) [children's fiction: "conceived and illustrated" by Matthews, written by Graham Smith: hb/Rodney Matthews]

graphic works (excluding calendars)


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