LINES ON PAPER Artist Bio - Kelly Freas


Born: August 27, 1922 Hornell, NY
Died: January 2, 2005 Los Angeles, CA

Frank Kelly Freas, gained fame as a science-fiction illustrator. No other artist in science fiction artwork has matched his record and consistency. In the New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction he is called "the most popular illustrator in the history of science fiction. Freas also created covers for hundreds of books and magazines in his illustrious career spanning more than 50 years. He was one of the first recipients of the Hugo Award for Best Artist in 1955.

Freas was also known for being a cover artist and illustrator of many of Mad's Magazine's most memorable advertising parodies. But it was his depiction of Alfred E. Newman that gained him the most acclaim. Freas did not actually originate the image, which was first created by artist Norman Mingo, but he enhanced it, giving Newman a unique smile that is a quirky mix of the idiotic and enigmatic.

Interested in art and science fiction since he was a boy, he was educated at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh after serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Freas then found work in a variety of commercial assignments, beginning with illustrating medical textbooks.

By 1950, however, he was pursuing his passion when he had his first illustration accepted by a science fiction pulp magazine called Weird Tales. Over the years he created cover art for such magazines as Analog Science Fiction, the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Planet Stories. One of his most famous covers appeared on Astounding in 1953. It was an illustration for a short story by Tom Godwin. The image of a robot clutching a dead body was so successful that the rock group Queen later had Freas adapt it as a cover for their record album News of the World. In addition to this fanciful work, the artist also created posters and official patches for NASA in 1975, and portraits of the cast of Star Trek for the first Star Trek convention.

The winner of numerous Hugo achievement awards, as well as such prizes as the Ink Pot Award, the Nicholas van Rijn Award, and the Phoenix Award, Freas spent some of his later years in administrative jobs. He was made president of Greenswamp Publications in 1984, was illustration director of Writers of the Future from 1987 to 1992, and was director of the Kelly Freas Studios, beginning in 1988. Freas was also the author of several books, including Science Fiction Art Prints (1972-78) and Frank Kelly Freas: The Art of Science Fiction (1977). Freas also served as coeditor and illustrator of books by such science-fiction giants as Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robert Silverberg, and Frederik Pohl.

Kelly Freas article in

Freas Mad cover


<-- Back to Artist's Card