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THE STEPHEN E. FABIAN COLLECTION

1. THE STEPHEN E. FABIAN COLLECTION - This collection contains 500 drawings and paintings that I began creating in 1965, mostly related to the science fiction field.

My interest in science fiction began way back in 1951 when I was a 21 year old airman in the U.S. Air Force at Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Illinois, where I taught an electronics course in the Advanced Radio and Radar School. One evening I was at the base PX browsing the magazine rack looking for something to read and noticed some pulp magazines that featured beautiful artwork on the covers. Titles like "Famous Fantastic Mysteries," "Fantastic Novels," and "Astounding Science Fiction". Inside those issues I saw wonderful story illustrations by Virgil Finlay, Lawrence Stevens, Edd Cartier, and Hubert Rogers, and I was hooked. I bought those magazines, read them over the weekend and they turned me into a science fiction fan.

In 1953 my time in the Air Force ended and I was a New Jersey civilian again. I worked at Dumont TV Labs for five years, at Curtis Wright for another five years, and in 1963 I found myself working for Simmonds Precision Products, an electronics company in Vermont. It was in 1965 that I began thinking about learning how to draw and paint like my favorite SF illustrators. And that's what I did, I bought some art instruction books and worked at it in my spare time. I had this dream that when I retired, in about 20 years or so, I might do some part-time illustrating in the Science Fiction field.

Astonishingly, just two years later my drawings and paintings began appearing in print; in fan publications and professional magazines. It all happened a lot sooner than I had expected.

And here I am in 2015, looking at all this artwork that I managed to create since 1965. I actually became a full-time free-lance illustrator, just like the ones who inspired me back in 1951. Whenever I wake up in the morning thinking it was all a dream, I am assured that it really did happen when I look at the trophy that rests on a shelf in my library; it features a bust of H.P. Lovecraft, sculpted by Gahan Wilson and was presented to me at a World Fantasy Convention. At the base of the figure a shiny plaque reads, " 2006 World Fantasy Award, Lifetime achievement Winner, Stephen Fabian".

:: Mon 05/11/2015 @ 09:55 :: 001
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The Loomis Mermaid

2. THE LOOMIS MERMAID - Acrylic painting on a 16 x 20 size canvas board.

In 1965, when I decided to learn how to draw and paint, I went to the one bookstore in Middlebury, Vermont, where I lived at the time, and was lucky to find five art instruction books by Andrew Loomis, one of the great golden age illustrators. I bought them all; "Fun With a Pencil," "Drawing the Head & Hands," "Figure Drawing For All It's Worth," "Three Dimensional Drawing," and "Creative Illustration".

I started with "Fun with a Pencil," reading and doing all the drawing exercises in the book, and over the next two years, during spare time I read all five books, made hundreds of drawings, and finished with the painting projects in "Creative Illustration". This painting is my copy of the "Mermaid" painting in that book, but I made lots of changes so it's not an exact copy.

So, while I am often described as a "self-taught" artist, obviously that is not true, my teacher was Andrew Loomis. But the learning never stops and over the following years I learned a lot more from many other artists.

:: Mon 05/11/2015 @ 09:59 :: 002
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The Potters of Firsk

3. THE POTTERS OF FIRSK - A black ink and color pencil drawing on a 9 x 12 size vellum paper, circa 1966.

While I was learning how to draw and paint I would occasionally copy a drawing of one of my favorite science fiction and fantasy artists. In this case I copied Edd Cartier's story illustration, "The Potters of Firsk," by Jack Vance. It appeared in the May 1950 issue of Astounding SF, in black and white. I added color to my copy.

Many years later, around 1990 I think, I had the great pleasure of meeting Edd Cartier, who was one of the outstanding Golden Age magazine illustrators. We became good friends, he came to my home, I went to his. The basement in his home had been made to look like an old-fashioned cabaret, there were several round tables covered with appropriate red-checkered tablecloths, and lots of antique lanterns hung from the ceiling, giving the room a unique atmosphere. It was a fun place to meet, eat and chat.

Sadly, Edd passed away in 2008. He was a man of "The Greatest Generation," a decorated soldier-hero of WW2. He was also a devoted husband and father, an outstanding illustrator, a truly decent and honorable man, it was a joy and an honor to know him.

:: Thu 03/05/2015 @ 09:54 :: 003
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Freas-Lawrence

4. FREAS-LAWRENCE - A Black ink and color pencil drawing on a 9 x 12 size vellum paper, circa 1966.

This is another "copy" drawing that I did in my spare time. The red-haired man in my drawing is a copy of Kelly Freas's figure on the cover of Astounding SF Apr. 1955. The female figure is a copy of a Lawrence Stevens figure on the cover of Famous Fantastic Mysteries Aug. 1949.

It was around this time that I began thinking about not "copying" any more, I thought it was time to create my own pictures, and coming up with my own style. But after copying so many drawings from Loomis's art instruction books, and the many drawings I did copying my favorite SF artists, how was I going to come up with my own style?

I decided to draw real people, animals, and a variety of objects that I saw photographed in magazines like" Vermont Life," "Sports Illustrated," "Playboy," and others. And after a few months of that I came to see what my own style looked like, and decided not to worry about "style" any more. I concentrated on things like composition, lighting, mood, perspective, and a lot of other things related to the making of "pictures".

Some fans have told me they can spot my artwork instantly, and I'm pleased to hear that. Though my artwork may show the influence of the artists that I learned from, my own identity does dominate my work, and I'm happy with that.

:: Mon 05/11/2015 @ 11:37 :: 004
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Twilight Zine

5. TWILIGHT ZINE - A black ink and black color pencil drawing with zip-a-tone used as a grey color on an 11 x14 size vellum paper. It appears on the cover of "Twilight Zine, No.24".

In 1967 I was reading the letter section in a science fiction magazine and noticed that one of the letters was from the co-editors of a fanzine titled "Twilight Zine," and they were asking readers to contribute artwork to their fanzine. The co-editors were Leslie Turek and Cory Seidman who were students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at that time. Their fanzine was published by the MIT Science Fiction Society, Cambridge, MA.

I found the courage to create this drawing and mailed it to them. Several months later I received a copy of "Twilight Zine, No. 24" and saw my drawing on the cover. I was overjoyed, it was my first drawing to be published, anywhere. There is something about having one's first artwork accepted for publication that is special, the wonder of it is never equaled. And it was my first tiny step on the road to becoming a professional Science Fiction illustrator.

:: Tue 05/12/2015 @ 12:09 :: 005
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Nova

6. NOVA - A black ink and color pencil drawing on an 8 x 8 size vellum paper, circa 1968.

When I drew this picture in 1968 I was aware that things had changed dramatically in the SF field since the early 1950s when I first started reading science fiction. At that time there were as many as 25 different SF magazine titles being published, with lots of work for both writers and illustrators. But, as the years went by the number of titles dwindled and by the late 1960s the number of magazines being published was down to only 5 titles. So, my chance of breaking into the SF field in 1968 was greatly reduced and that was certainly disappointing to me. However, I was also aware that the SF paperback market was growing dramatically, and that kept my hopes of becoming a SF illustrator alive.

I miss all those SF pulps of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, there was an exciting "sense of wonder" to them that doesn't exist any more. Those early pulps were the beginning of science fiction as a literary genre in this country, and an important influence on young readers. They are gone now. Forever!

"the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially for
the young for that is the time at which the character is being formed
and the desired impression is more readily taken. Anything received
into the mind at that age is likely to become indelible, unalterable,
and is therefore most important that the tales they read should be
models of virtuous thought." - Plato's Republic

Which is what those early science fiction pulps were all about.

:: Thu 09/10/2015 @ 08:26 :: 006
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Space-Girl

7. SPACE-GIRL - A black ink and color pencil drawing on an 8 x 8 size coquille board, circa 1968. It appeared in the comics fanzine, "The Collector"

After my drawings appeared in "Twilight Zine" in 1967, I began to get letters from other fanzine publishers asking me to contribute some artwork to their fanzines, and that was very encouraging. At that time I assumed that amateur fanzine editors did not pay for artwork, but it was not long before some of them began offering me payment, which not only surprised me, it was a great ego boost. And it made me realize that my artwork was now good enough to earn money, which was a big jump forward to my becoming a professional illustrator.





:: Fri 02/26/2016 @ 05:41 :: 007
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Letters Lovecraftian

8. LETTERS LOVECRAFTIAN - Black Ink and black color pencil drawings on an 11 x 14 size coquille board, 1975.

These drawings were commissioned by Gerry de la Ree for a Lovecraft book that he wanted to publish. Gerry was the first person I met who was an insider in the science fiction and fantasy field. That was back in 1955 when he lived in River Edge, NJ. and had a home-based mail-order business selling used SF books and magazines. I went to his home to buy some back issues of Fantastic Novels and Famous Fantastic Mysteries magazines because they all featured the artwork of Virgil Finlay, Lawrence Sterne Stevens, and Hannes Bok, and I just had to have them.

When I entered his home I found myself in wonderland, beautiful paintings by famous SF artists hung on all the walls above the many bookcases that stretched around the room. The bookcases were all filled with rare science fiction and fantasy books. My sense of wonder was overflowing, and by the smile on his face I could see that Gerry knew how I felt. As I looked around, it never entered my mind that one day I would see my artwork displayed up there with all those wonderful artists, and that I would be part of that wonderland.

Sometimes dreams do come true. Twenty years later I stood in his library again, he had moved to Saddle River, NJ, and as I had been doing for years, I looked at all those wonderful paintings by Kelly Freas, J. Allen St. John, Hannes Bok, Lawrence Stevens, and this time I also saw a few of my paintings displayed with theirs. My determination to be one of "them" had paid off, my drawings and paintings were now appearing in professional SF magazines and books.

And Gerry de la Ree helped make that possible.

:: Sat 08/22/2015 @ 10:24 :: 008
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Gerry de La Ree

9. GERRY DE LA REE - A black ink, black color pencil drawings on an 11 x 14 size coquille board.

This drawing was commissioned by Helen de la Ree in 1975. She gave me a 1950 photo of her husband and asked me to surround him with a framework of drawings by his favorite artists; Virgil Finlay, Hannes Bok and Edd Cartier. For years Gerry and Helen purchased original artwork from me and eventually they published two art books featuring my artwork, "Fantasy by Fabian," and "More Fantasy by Fabian". We became good friends, I was a frequent visitor to their home, often to buy some old pulp magazines or books. It was always a great pleasure to look at all those wonderful original SF and fantasy paintings and drawings displayed throughout the house.

One dreadful day Helen phoned and stunned me by saying that Gerry had only a day or two to live and would like to see me. Unbelievable! It was hard to accept. When I got there he greeted me at the door looking as normal as I'd ever seen him, though I knew that he suffered from sugar diabetes. During the next hour or so nothing was said about his imminent passing, and I don't remember what we talked about because my mind was so numb from the shock of what was happening. I do remember that when the time came to leave, we looked at each other, there was an unspoken understanding that this was the final goodbye. We hugged and I left in a kind of daze.

A few days later he was gone, and I'm still amazed when I think of how calm and ordinary his demeanor was during that last visit. Just before I left he waved at his magnificent library of rare and very expensive books and asked me to take any book I wanted. I couldn't do it. Instead, there was a small plastic model airplane that a neighbor's kid had made, and I took that because he insisted I take something to remember him by. And just like that, a truly wonderful part of my life was gone. That small plastic model airplane that I took sits on a bookshelf in my library and every time I look at it, and the tiny pilot that waves at me, I think of him.

:: Mon 02/29/2016 @ 04:04 :: 009
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Helen de la Ree

10. HELEN DE LA REE - A black ink and gray pencil drawing on an 11 x 14 size vellum paper, circa 1974. It is an excerpt from a larger drawing that appears on the cover of, "Fantasy Collector's Annual, 1975," edited and published by Gerry de la Ree.

Way back in 1955, when I first went to buy some back issues of old SF pulp magazines from her husband Gerry, Helen was puttering around the plants in front of their home in River Edge, NJ. Helen is a beautiful woman with a soft unassuming voice who not only took care of the landscaping around their house, she also managed to take care of their art collection, their huge library of rare books, and their mail-order business. She also had to do most of the hard work managing Gerry's publishing ventures because his poor health prohibited him from doing it. That was years ago, though it seems like yesterday. We have been friends now for a very long time, she remains an ageless and beautiful woman.

:: Mon 09/02/2013 @ 07:25 :: 010
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