Jon Arfstrom — Last of the WEIRD TALES Artists
By the mid-1950s, pulp magazines had largely disappeared from America’s newsstands. Hence, even those creators who were first getting started when the rough-paper magazines of the early twentieth century were in their last days, have either departed this mortal coil or have a difficult time traveling in our day and age. For these reasons, PulpFest is extremely proud to welcome artist and illustrator Jon Arfstrom as its special guest to this year’s convention. We all owe Greg Ketter, proprietor of DreamHaven Books, our sincerest gratitude for helping to arrange Mr. Arfstrom’s appearance at PulpFest 2015.
Born in 1928, Jon Arfstrom has lived in Minnesota for most of his life. Largely self-taught, the artist also studied with the Famous Artist School, founded by members of the New York Society of Illustrators, and at the Minneapolis School of Art. Always interested in fantasy art, Arfstrom began to contribute to fanzines in the late 1940s, including THE FANSCIENT, FANTASY ADVERTISER, SCIENTIFANTASY, and SPACE TRAILS.
Working in a factory to make ends meet, Arfstom began to submit his work to the digest market around 1950, selling interior drawings to Ray Palmer’s MYSTIC MAGAZINE and OTHER WORLDS SCIENCE STORIES, William Crawford’s SPACEWAY, and Dorothy McIlwraith’s WEIRD TALES. For the latter, he also painted three covers, beginning with the January 1952 issue. He continued working for “The Unique Magazine” until its demise in 1954.
Following the collapse of the pulp market, Arfstrom turned to commercial art, producing illustrations for a large retail store chain and art for a religious publisher. He also worked as a staff artist for a calendar company. Gradually, he became a major midwestern artist, holding more than thirty one-man shows, winning numerous awards, producing work for many institutions and private collections, and serving as the President of the Northstar Watercolor Society.
During the mid-nineties, Jon Arfstrom returned to the fantasy art field, creating dust-jacket art for Fedogan & Bremer, Haffner Press, and PS Publishing. Robert Bloch’s THE EARLY FEARS, published by Fedogan & Bremer and featuring both jacket and interior art by Arfstrom, won a Stoker Award in 1994 for “Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection.”
Beginning at 8:45 PM, on Friday, August 14th, and following our guest-of-honor presentation by author Chet Williamson, please join pulp art historian David Saunders for a short interview with fantasy artist Jon Arfstrom, perhaps the last surviving artist to paint covers for the original run of “The Unique Magazine,” WEIRD TALES. Mr. Arfstrom will also have a table at the convention where he will be displaying some of his original art. He will have a sampling of paintings and drawings, mostly from the 1970’s on, that he will be selling at the convention. His table will be next to the DreamHaven Books display in the PulpFest 2015 dealers’ room.
Please register as soon as you can for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” to be to be part of this exciting event. A prepaid, three-day membership to PulpFest 2015 will cost $30 for those members who will be staying at the Hyatt Regency Columbus and $35 for those staying elsewhere. The price at the door will be $40. Although are host hotel is completely booked, there are still some rooms available through several hotels that that are close to the convention. Remember that PulpFest will be sharing downtown Columbus with Matsuricon in August. Please click here and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. Afterward, click the red “register” button on our home page to be assured that you won’t miss this opportunity to meet one of the terrific artists who labored for the long-gone pulp market, Jon Arfstom, the last of the WEIRD TALES artists.
(Jon Arfstrom passed away on December 2, 2015. PulpFest was honored to have Mr. Arfstrom as its guest during our 2015 convention. Our many condolences to the artist’s family.
The January 1952 issue not only featured Jon Arfstrom’s first cover for “The Unique Magazine,” but also August Derleth’s cover story, “The Black Island.” This was the final tale of a series of five connected stories that would later form THE TRAIL OF CTHULHU, published by Arkham House in 1962. Also appearing in the issue is a reprint of Anthony M. Rud’s “Ooze,” the story of a giant amoeba that originally ran in the first issue of WEIRD TALES, dated March 1923.”)