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A Brief Biography of Eddie Jones (1935-1999)
Eddie Jones was a British science fiction illustrator. Initially known as a fan-artist, he later worked as a professional freelancer producing cover artwork for book and magazine publishers in Britain, Europe and the United States. Although probably best known for his Star Trek covers for Bantam Books (under his S. Fantoni pseudonym), much of his output was for German publishers, including 103 covers for Bastei Lübbe's science fiction imprint and over 530 for Terra Astra magazine.
Jones was a self-taught artist and painted with little or no detailed preparation. Although he generally working in gouache, he also used acrylic, watercolours and sometimes an air-brush.
He was known for his imaginative and richly coloured depictions of diverse spaceships and starscapes, as well as lost alien cities rich in technology, people and alien creatures.
Jones considered himself an artist of Science Fiction rather than Science Fact, but he also appreciated opportunities to indulge his interest in Swords & Sorcery when they presented themselves. He included John Schoenherr and Jack Gaughan amongst his influences, and also admired the work of Chris Foss: "I don’t think that people like Chris Foss influence me, but I know that they have a winning formula."
As well as drawing and painting science fiction, fantasy and miltary subjects, he collected, manufactured and painted military miniatures.
Eddie Jones used a number of identifiers on his work, including 'Eddie' (more common on early work and fan art), 'EDDIE JONES' (often found on work for an English-speaking market), 'S. Fantoni' (on Star Trek paintings) and an EJ (not ED) monogram (on covers for the German market). In some cases, cover artwork was published without a signature or initials.
Jones’s interest in science fiction began at school where he became an avid reader of magazines such as Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures and Planet Stories. He discovered SF fandom in 1953 through an advertisement for the newszine Operation Fantast and then learned of the Liverpool Group of SF enthusiasts. The fanzine scene at the time was thriving and encountering it prompted him to submit his own illustrations for publication, first in The Medway Journal and later in Ploy and Binary. After discovering fanzines, it was a natural step to meet other fans by attending SF conventions, beginning with Eastercon at Kettering in 1956. A year later he was involved in the organisation of the programme for Loncon, the 1957 World Science Fiction Convention and also provided the cover illustration for Songs from Space, the earliest known book of British filk songs (and perhaps the earliest filk book ever printed).
Fandom continued to be the focus of Jones’s artistic output throughout the fifties and sixties. His illustrations appeared in a wide range of fanzines and convention publications. (A listing is currently being compiled for inclusion in Eddie Jones - A Preliminary Bibliography.) He was also a founding member of the British Science Fiction Association in 1958 and contributed seven illustrations for the cover of its journal, Vector.First Sales
Buoyed by his art appearing in fanzines, Jones began to submit illustrations to professional magazines. This was rewarded by New Worlds Science Fiction in 1957 when they published one of his illustrations as interior art for James White’s short story The Lights Outside the Windows (No.56, February 1957), and more in the following months to accompany The Tools of Orlas Boyn by Peter Hawkins (No.57, March 1957) and All That Glitters by Lan Wright (No.59, May 1957).
Further success followed with an untitled back cover for Nebula Science Fiction (No.20, March 1957) and interior illustrations for Suicide Squad by Robert Presslie (No.39, February 1959) and Imbalance by William F. Temple (No.40, May 1959). Jones finally broke onto the front cover with a series of full-colour illustrations for Nebula Science Fiction - see issues 36 (November 1958), 38 (January 1959) and 40 (May 1959).
The cigars with fins can be seen in both New Worlds and Nebula, but the abstracts heralded Jones’s first appearance in paperback. Four covers for Badger Books' science fiction series in 1959, beginning with Space-Borne by R.L. Fanthorpe (S.F. 20) and ending with The Other Side of Night by Paul Charkin (S.F. 24), were a colourful if curious mixture of photograph and paint with an entirely different character to both his earlier and later work. The following year another Badger title, Supernatural Stories No.30, featured an Eddie Jones cover more in line with what would, in the 1970s, become his instantly recognizable style.
Making a Name
Jones was nominated for the 1962 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund (TAFF) election but lost to Ethel Lindsay. The TAFF was conceived to develop closer links between European and North American fandoms. The winner received funding that allowed them to attend a convention on the other side of the Atlantic. Jones was nominated again in 1969 alongside Bob Shaw and this time won the race. Shortly before the results were announced, Ted White resigned his place as Fan Guest of Honour at the World Science Fiction Convention (St. Louiscon) in favour of the TAFF winner, further adding to the prestige of the win.
Some of the items listed above have been traced for the bibliography. "German PB covers" may be a reference to Utopia Zukunftsromane, but details of the issues of the contribution to Science Fantasy magazine are unknown at the time of writing, as are those of the covers for Arkham House and the bubble gum cards. Initially recruited by Philip Harbottle to produce cover and interior illustrations beginning with Issue 2 (December 1969) of Vision of Tomorrow, Jones was promoted to Art Consultant for Issue 6 (March 1970) and was responsible for the majority of interior illustrations from then until the final issue in September 1970.The Big Break
Jones first encountered German science fiction fan Thomas Schlück when he illustrated a travel report translated by Schlück in 1961, before they met in person at Eastercon in Harrogate in 1962. Schlück went on to become a literary agent in the late sixties, and invited Jones to join him as his first artist. This soon proved to be a successful partnership.
Jones travelled to Heidelberg, Germany in 1970 to attend the World Science Fiction Convention. Heicon was important for him for a number of reasons. Not only did the cover of the Heicon programme book feature one of his illustrations, he was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist. Schlück arranged for him to meet a number of publishers and the resulting offers of work allowed Jones to resign from his job at the advertising agency to work full-time as a freelance artist.
Arthur Moewig Verlag (later Pabel-Moewig) were so impressed with Jones’s work that they decided to use their new magazine Terra Astra as a vehicle for his illustrations. The covers for this weekly magazine would be the backbone of his output for over a decade. Bastei Lübbe also commissioned Jones to produce the covers for their new Science-Fiction-Taschenbuch series. Back at home, Sphere Books started to use Jones’s illustrations for the covers of some of their science fiction paperbacks. Beginning in 1972, Jones also produced the covers for Fischer Verlag’s new science fiction series, Fischer Orbit.
Jones was nominated again for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist in 1971 at the World Science Fiction Convention (Noreascon) in Boston. It is possible that it was here that he met Marsha Elkin, a literary agent and one of the organisers of the convention’s art show, although they may have met previously at Heicon in 1970. Whichever is the case, they became a couple and were married in Liverpool on 11 November 1972. The Joneses moved across the Mersey from Bootle to Birkenhead soon after.
Marsha was married to Charles Brown during the 1960s and had co-edited Locus, the legendary newszine. Well-known to U.S. fandom, she had served on convention committees and organised several art shows. Later, in the U.K., she ran numerous art shows at Eastercon and Novacon, as well as at the World Science Fiction Convention (Seacon) in 1979.
A New Enterprise
In 1975, Terra Astra reprinted the German translations, using a combination of the Williams cover art and some new illustrations Jones produced specifically for them. By the end of 1977 he had produced a total of 22 Star Trek cover plus eight black and white interior illustrations. He went on to do four more covers for Pabel’s Terra magazine, two for Heyne's Star Trek: The Next Generation series and six for The Best of Trek series edited by Walter Irwin and G.B. Love.
Many of Jones’s Star Trek illustrations were signed 'S. Fantoni'. This pseudonym was a reference to the Knights of St. Fantony, a fannish jest of sorts that originated in 1957 as an entertainment at Eastercon when the Cheltenham Science Fiction Circle created an elaborate ceremony as leg-pull to 'honour' their friends in the Liverpool Group. The ceremony was repeated at Loncon later in 1957 with a new set of 'inductees' and reappeared periodically over the next 20 years at several more conventions. Eddie Jones was one of the original Knights inducted in 1957 and later rose to the dizzying heights of Knight Armourer.
Jones was also taking on occasional special projects. One of these was The Conquest of the Amazon by John Russell Fearn, an illustrated chapterbook edition published by Philip Harbottle in 1973. Another was a cover painting for Have You Seen These? by Isaac Asimov, a limited edition collection of short stories issued by the New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA) to commemorate the occasion of Asimov being Guest of Honour at Boskone 11 in 1974.
In 1980, Jones's work was featured in The Space Warriors by Stewart Cowley. This collection of three short stories about the adventures of Boots Walker and Rory Pricer was fully illustrated in colour by a number of well-known artists, with the cover and about two-thirds of the interior illustrations by Eddie Jones and the remainder by others including David Hardy, Paul Lehr, Carl Lundgren and Blair Wilkins.Hard Times
As the seventies were beginning to draw to a close, science fiction was changing. Pabel ceased to publish Orion as a standalone magazine in 1978, which cut Jones's output by four covers per month at a stroke. Later, early in 1982, Pabel decided to reduce the frequency of Terra Astra from weekly to fortnightly and later in the year, in an attempt to freshen up the magazine, they replaced Jones's cover art with the work of Themistokles Kanellakis. Jones's last cover was for issue 561.
Year by year, the number of Jones's cover illustrations that were published slowly decreased - from over 100 in 1978 to less than 40 by 1982. After the loss of work from Terra Astra he was almost entirely dependent on sales from his back-catalogue and these too were falling away.
1985 brought two new outlets. First, Rog Peyton, editor for the Hamlyn Paperbacks Venture Science Fiction series, selected the covers from Jones's back-catalogue along with a small number of previously unpublished private commissions that he had painted for friends and conventions. Goldmann Verlag also reprinted many of his Star Trek covers for their Raumschiff Enterprise series. However, even with these new sources of income, sales of reprints were very low when compared to the seventies and early eighties, and they continued to dwindle until they dried up almost completely in the nineties.
After this little is known for certain. Eddie and Marsha Jones divorced and Marsha returned to the United States. At some point she joined DAW Books as an editor.
Jones left science fiction behind and spent his time painting military figures for a model shop in Liverpool. He attended Eastercon in 1999, his first appearance at a convention for over a decade, and was surprised that anyone remembered his artwork or his name. Later in the year Jones suffered a stroke and was admitted to a Liverpool hospital where, in the early hours of 15 October 1999, he died following a cardiac arrest during a blood transfusion. He was 64 years old.
Sadly, a volume devoted solely to the art of Eddie Jones was never published. Perhaps this bibliography can be a small step towards remedying that omission.
A Preliminary Bibliography
A selection of items from the forthcoming illustrated bibliography can be seen below.
A selection of items from the forthcoming illustrated bibliography can be seen below
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Text © Neil Holford and SFandFantasy.co.uk 2011-2017 --- Images and quoted text remain copyright of the publishers, artists and authors