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Utpatel, Frank

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1905-1980) American artist. A lifelong resident of Wisconsin, Utpatel entered the field of sf art because of his friendships with writers August Derleth and Mark Schorer. Although he reportedly did some interior illustrations for Weird Tales, he is best known for his Arkham House book covers, beginning with H P Lovecraft's The Shadow over Innsmouth (1936).

Utpatel's covers tended to consist of moody, black-and-white images, like his silhouetted figure stalking through a forest for the 1947 edition of William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki the Ghost-Finder (coll 1913; exp 1947), though he could also project a sense of humour in efforts like his cover for Clark Ashton Smith's Poems in Prose (coll 1965), a tableau of strange figures and creatures. He also provided the cover of Robert E Howard's The Dark Man and Others (coll 1963) with an arresting image of an enormous yellow bat clutching a man in its jaws, while other covers, like the one for Smith's Poetry collection The Dark Chateau (coll 1951), were arrays of figures drawn in white against a black background. If some of Utpatel's drawings resemble woodcuts, it is because they probably were: that is the form of art that he came to specialize in, garnering a modest reputation for his woodcuts in the field of fine art. Clearly, Utpatel is a figure of greater importance to the art of Fantasy and Horror, but due to the wide-ranging influence of the authors he illustrated, like Howard, Derleth, and Lovecraft, he is also relevant to sf art. [GW]

Frank Albert Bernhardt Utpatel

born Waukegan, Illinois: 4 March 1905

died Mazomanie, Wisconsin: 12 July 1980


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