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Retro-Future: To The Stars!

Link - by Avi Abrams

Rare & Beautiful Vintage Visions of the Future

This is the start of a new series: an extensive collection of the most inspiring and hard-to-find retro-futuristic images. We will try to stay away from the well-known American pulp and book cover illustrations and instead will focus on the artwork from some rather unlikely sources: Soviet and Eastern Bloc "popular tech & science" magazines, German, Italian, British fantastic illustrations and promotional literature - all from the Golden Age of Retro-Future (from 1930s to 1970s). Wait for images to load.

(source: TM-1970, Russia)

("Galactic Manoeuvre", by Nikolai Nedbailo)

(source: TM-1953, Russia)

(source: TM-1956, Russia)

(image credit: retro-futurismus.de)

Part 1. Space never looked better... and perhaps never will

Retro-futuristic art, in a way, can be called a double-fantasy: imaginary future wrapped in imaginary past. Which makes this style doubly interesting, if not doubly obsolete... In this part we will showcase rarely seen art, done in 1930s to 1970s, mostly from "Teknika Molodezhi" (TM), "Yuny Tekhnik", "DetGiz" (Russia) and German retro-future sites.

Earth's Orbit:

(TM cover, Russia, 1950)

(images credit: Klaus Burgle)

"Breaking a Space Traffic Jam" by Frank Tinsley, 1959 (image via Plan59)

To the Moon!

(art by Noel Sickles for the "Rocket to the Moon", 1949)

"To Other Worlds!", Detgiz, Russia, 1939

"Lunar Unicycle" by Frank Tinsley, 1959 (image via Plan59)

(image credit: Klaus Burgle)

(TM cover, Russia 1953)

(source: TM, Russia)

"Nuclear Rocketship" by Frank Tinsley, 1959 (image via Plan59)

"Destination Moon" rare art, 1950
(image credit: Erik Theodor Lässig, Germany)

Bigger Moon base:

(source: TM, Russia)

(original unknown)

(images credit: Kurt Röschl, right - art by Ed Emshwiller)

To Mars!

(TM cover, Russia 1966; right - art by Andrey Sokolov)

"Mars Snooper" by Frank Tinsley, 1959 (image via Plan59)

To Venus!

Battling off the Communist astronaut invasion!

(Perry Rhodan, Jan. 1962)

Interesting Planetary Vehicle: very strange flip-flop caterpillar style of moving -

(source: TM, Russia 1966)

To Saturn and Beyond:

(TM cover, Russia 1954)

Other Worlds

Screens from the Russian science fiction movie "Planeta Bur" (The Planet of Storms) - 1959:

(images via woodmal)

This is a collage made from various promotional art from this movie, created by Vladimir:

(image credit: o-vladimir)

(image credit: Klaus Burgle)

(art by Andrey Sokolov)

(art by Nikolai Nedbailo)

("First Contact", by Nikolai Nedbailo)

Space Lift Concept:

(source: TM, Russia 1970)

Detailed Chart of Starships:

(source: TM, Russia 1955)

Socialist Space Workers by Gennady Golobokov, 1973 -

(source: TM, Russia 1973)

Photon Starships in Deep Space:

(art by Andrey Sokolov)

Let us know about other rare and unusual futurist art; next issue will be devoted to architectural and transportation visions of retro-future...

Article by Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.



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Blogger filch said...

Very cool! I have 40-50 old Perry Rhodans and have long thought it would be great to scan them and share them with the internets. Maybe someday. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous Jo K. said...

Oh, these are just gorgeous. I could cover a wall with them!

Blogger newscaper said...

Great stuff!

The one by Ed Emshwiller, with the guy in a red space suit and the girl holding a doll behind him, not suited up, with the lunar landscape visible outside, lookes like an illustration I've never seen before for Heinlein's "Have SPacesuit, Will Travel."

It looks to me like Kip and Peewee with Madame Pompadour.

Anonymous MarkJ said...

Very nice illustrations. Interesting to note Soviet symbols (flags, stars, etc.) figure prominently in some of the artwork. Nevertheless I suspect not a few Soviet artists were drawn to science fiction since it provided a respite from dreary socialist realism and also a chance to cover normally forbidden subjects (note that several of the magazine covers were produced during the 1930's-1950's, while Stalin was in power).

Blogger Dr. Ellen said...

That one, mostly in black and orange with a rocket on the right and a moon crawler on the left; from retro-futurismus.

Looks like something Batman would own -- the Bat-rocket and the Bat-moonmobile.

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Iirc, that illustration was from the magazine serialization of Have Spacesuit... I first saw it probably 20 years ago, at least. Nice to see it again.

Blogger Roswila said...

Wonderful selection! Thanks so much.

Blogger Zimri said...

Noel Sickles for "Rocket to the Moon", 1949; pretty decent look at cramped conditions in such a rocket.

"To Other Worlds!", Detgiz, Russia, 1939 - Is that the moon? Again, no obvious problems with it. The craters are done well.

"Mars Snooper" by Frank Tinsley, 1959 - Has nothing to do with Mars. The planet, or moon, in the sky doesn't look like Mars or Deimos or Phobos. The planet in the foreground has channels - which might make it Mars, viewed at night.

(Perry Rhodan, Jan. 1962) - ah yes, the old jungle volcanic Venus. Clark Ashton Smith had a couple of 'em. So did Asimov. At least they were right about the volcanos. "The air you breathe is a poisonous flame, not with ten thousand men could you do this"

(TM cover, Russia 1954) - A non-Titan moon of Saturn. Rhea? Dione? Those midsized moons have large cracks in 'em. So far this gets my "realism" award (the Moon-shots being disqualified because - well, everyone knew what going to the Moon would be like). Mind you I don't know the moons' axial tilt vs. Saturn's ecliptic.

art by Nikolai Nedbailo - looks more like "art from FiendFolio". That is a lot of ugly.

"First Contact", by Nikolai Nedbailo - Nedbailo takes three tabs of acid, grabs a paintbrush.

And more wackiness to follow.

Thanks for the pics!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perry Rhodan is German, not Russian.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The picture of the painting by Art Emshwiller is cover art to Robert Heinlein's 1958 novel Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, showing Kip Russel in the foreground with Peewee in the background. It was the cover art for the August 1958 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, where the serialization of the novel appeared.

Anonymous magusxxx_2000 said...

Did anyone else notice that the back cover art for ELO's album Out of the Blue looks a lot like Klaus Burgle's work? Anyone know if there's a connection?

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Magusxxx: good observation!
... i love that ELO album :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it possible to purchase a print of "Galactic Manoeuvre" by Nikolai Nedbailo? Who/what should one contact about that?

Anonymous GaryG said...

Love the 'Socialist Space Workers' image, so... wistful and optimistic.

Anonymous clareyal@aol.com said...

check out clip of a tv sci-fi sitcom pilot w/same feel --


Blogger Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey said...

The second picture after "Bigger Moon base," showing the Earth in the sky, a tall rocket, and a streamlined Moon crawler, looks to me like the style of Alex Schomburg.

Blogger Chris said...

Actually, one of those isn't a "classic" - it was my first piece I ever did in Photoshop, must be about 12 years ago now. It's the one with the rocket on the moon with the open hatch and the moon buggy in the foreground. I've always been meaning to redo it.

Blogger Adam Gott said...

Nice. Now if only a lot of the older eastern block science fiction movies would become more readily available I would be happy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Russia

Blogger XTC283 said...

Loved these pix but am really surprised, given the time they were done, that there wasn't more in the way of propagandizing Soviet Russia's logos and imagery on the space vehicles...e.g., red stars or CCCP on the spaceships, etc.

Anonymous Lawrence D'Oliveiro said...

Aah, love this sort of stuff.

Does anybody else remember seeing a series of ads by BF Goodrich in Reader's Digest around, I don't know, early 1970s maybe? They had some quite futuristic pictures, featuring vehicles with amazing fat tyres, that left me quite impressed at that tender age.

Blogger dannyglix said...

absolute win

Anonymous Omega said...

i actually owned some of these magazines! in soviet union they were sure they will be able to land and live on mars by 1980 ( i was sure about that too when i was a kid :D )

Blogger Bob said...

Wow! Amazing images, thanks posting.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Bob: thanks for linking to it

Blogger MindStrider said...

"TM cover, Russia 1954 - A non-Titan moon of Saturn. Rhea? Dione?" Thanks, I wouldn't have known how to put it.
But is it only me who thinks it a bit odd that there are three people in the picture wearing suits - perhaps suggesting a non-breathable atmosphere - and yet the camera crew are standing there happily without so much as an oxygen tank and helmet? What's going on there?

Anonymous Dawid Michalczyk said...

Awesome space artwork.

Blogger Woodsy said...

What beautiful visions of the future! I love these so much I've put a link to them on my Project Sword Toys blog. Hope you don't mind. Fabulous site.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Archive of soviet magazines (pdf and djvu formats) - http://journal-club.ru

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you for this archive link - simply fabulous

OpenID pauliree said...

Hi there, If I wanted to print some of these pictures in our club magazine do you have the details of where I need to get the permissions?

Please contact me back

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Hi Pauliree - please contact us by email: abramsv@gmail.com - we will reply with info.

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Anonymous viagra jelly said...

what a nice collection it is..
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