Thursday, 24 April 2008

Edd Cartier

Every once in a while I will show a painting or a drawing of an alien, a dinosaur or other extinct life forms that I find particularly appealing.

The first one is a drawing by Edd Cartier. I first saw it in the late seventies in a book called 'Science Fiction Ideas and Dreams' by David Kyle. The legend simply said 'Two aliens drawn by Edd Cartier for "The Interplanetary Zoo" in the Gnome Press anthology'. I wondered for a very long time how many such animals were in that book, other than the two I could find.

Today, of course, Google helps: The drawing appeared in a 1951 book called 'Travelers in Space'. here is the cover as shown on Wikipedia.

A page by David Kyle on his career in SF resulted in the following: 'I collaborated with Edd Cartier in several ways, the best being the illustrations for my story of the "Interplanetary Zoo"; this was an interesting project because the full color signature or folio in the anthology Travelers of Space was actually done from black-and-white drawings. All color was laid in by a talented printing plant technician who worked with me for the final results.' That is interesting, since it shows that the original drawing must have been in black and white.

More searching revealed a number of drawings from the book on a Japanese site.
The drawings there all have a very strong yellow background, which was not present in the book I first saw the drawing in, so I guessed it was a later addition. I mostly took the yellow away again, which brings the colours out more.

I still find this creature very appealing: it looks pensive and rather serious. Somehow it doesn't actually look very alien to me, or is that simply because I have known the image for long enough to have become familiar with it? Much as I like it, from a biomechanical point of view it is odd. What seem to be arms and legs at first glance turns out to be just one pair of limbs. These are attached to the body with what look like shoulders. In effect, the large head and small rump are suspended between these limbs. The creature must be top-heavy, and it can't have been a very elegant walker. The legs are wide apart, and it doesn't look as if its hands (feet?) can bend inwards enough to be placed directly underneath the body. That's a pity, because if you cannot do that, and still want to walk around on two feet, waddling is the only way.

Its restful appearance might be ruined if it starts to walk: it will probably draw laughs for the same reasons waddling ducks and penguins do (why is that, by the way?).

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