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Bob Eggleton
conducted by Toni Weisskopf
 
July 2004

Bob is one of the most decorated SF artists in recent history, winning a passel of Hugo awards. He has done a large number of covers for Baen, including the entire list of James Schmitz volumes edited by Eric Flint, Darkness and Dawn and Gods and Androids by Andre Norton, Seas of Venus by David Drake, and, my favorite, Cosmic Tales: Adventures in Sol System. He's also signed up to do the next Cosmic Tales, Adventures in Far Futures, something that makes the editor very happy….

TW:How did you get started illustrating SF? Any specific influences?

BE:Lessee... I was always into this kind of thing when I was young, I mean REAL young... like 4. Always liked spaceships, dinosaurs, monsters (Godzilla, King Kong, Creature from the Black Lagoon) and comic books. Sometime in the late ‘70s I met Eric Ladd who was, at the time, doing a lot of SF covers. He told me I should start showing stuff at these "SF Conventions". So I went to a Boskone in 1979, and met all these "new" guys back then--Michael Whelan, Carl Lundgren, Don Maitz... etc. My influences go back far and are numerous. Fine art-wise, I like Turner, Constable, Bierstadt, Thomas Cole, John Singer Sargent, Homer, California Impressionists... lots more. In SF, I have always liked Frazetta and Bonestell, Bob McCall, Freas, Schoenherr, Emsh, Mel Hunter… a lot of the "golden age" guys. They were really there when it all exploded. There is quite nothing like digging through shelves or a box of old SF mags from the ‘50s through the early ‘70s. All the covers were just winners, sent the imagination reeling!!!

My first cover work was for... ta-dah... Jim Baen. And looking back, it was kind of like "Bookcover bootcamp" -- I learned A LOT from him about what worked, what didn't, how covers "work" on the potential reader, how colors have certain effects on people, etc. So now... 20 odd years later, I can look at something and figure out how and why it works, what makes it a "big" book look, good composition, why the cover elements should move toward the right as the book would open... after a while it is just instinct.

TW:What are some of the best perks of being a science fiction artist?

BE: Well, you get paid to paint weird, cool stuff all day long. Everyone sees it and then tells you they like it, which is a nice feeling. Sometimes they BUY it to hang on their walls which is even cooler. My SF illustrating led me into the movie industry where I just finished up working on my fourth film project, an animated film, The Ant Bully, due out from Warner Bros in 2006. I worked as a conceptual designer which means I had to come up with visual ideas, and I had to dream these up fast on a weekly basis. I also worked on Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius (2001) for Paramount/DNA Studios and I designed all kinds of stuff for that.

TW: Do you have any favorites among your covers?

BE: Hmm... wow, that's a tough one. What can I say? My favorite one is always the one I am working on!! It varies. I don't use the airbrush as I did back then, more brushstrokes and it's a nicer feeling. Okay, here's two favorites of late: The Dragon Society by Lawrence Watt-Evans, for Tor and, the new Cosmic Adventures I for Baen. Just joyful pieces and I think it shows.

TW: What was the first sf story you ever read?

BE: Probably The First Men in The Moon , The Time Machine , or 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea . I don't recall which one, as it was ages ago. I just knew I liked this. I read A.E. Van Vogt's "Black Destroyer" at a young age so you can imagine the thrill I had doing the NESFA Press cover to his collection. I read Clarke after seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey ... .

TW: Who are some of your favorite non-sf authors?

BE: Stephen Pressfield, who wrote a great book called The War of Art that I recommend to *any* writer, artist or creative person, it's like a bible. Also, Jim Knipfel wrote a terrific mystery book called The Buzzing . I'm also reading Mark Kurlansky's 1968. I tend to like stuff that's a document of a time, or a recalling of an event in detail.

TW:What invention or scientific leap in understanding would you most like to see made in your lifetime?

BE: Well, I can tell you, the two guys who recently built and piloted that private rocketplane into space, and glided back to earth- -that was something I always wanted to happen. It was pretty amazing to see and know it happened in this time, and what a cool pair of guys they were. THAT'S science fiction coming true, not overspent government programs. It is how we got to the moon, just "seat of the pants" engineering and thinking. If we had more of that... wow... .

TW: If you could go back to one incident in all of history to watch as a spectator what would it be?

BE: I would LOVE to say the moon landing... but guess what? I was there! I saw it on a black and white TV set. It didn't matter since the transmissions were in black and white anyway. I remember it vividly. Okay, here's one-the great comet or whatever it was that hit the Yucatan area in the time of the dinosaurs... seeing that happen from like, orbit or something... wow. How cool would that be??? Maybe also watching Chuck Yeager break the sound barrier?? There is so much to choose from... .

For more information about Bob Eggleton please go to:http://www.bobeggleton.com

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