WAR OF THE WORLDS - REDUX

Following up from the WAR OF THE WORLDS piece I wrote a few days back, it appears that there was recently (back in May at Heritage Auctions in Dallas) an auction to own the originals of that very art. I am not disappointed in missing it because the £350,000 minimum price tag attached was slightly above my means to say the least.

Anyway, there appears to be more to the story than I first thought. British artist Warwick Goble had provided the illustrations for the first edition of the book but Wells was so unhappy with them, he included an introduction in following issues of the book criticising the drawings, stating Goble had 'evidently made a hasty study of one of the fighting machines, and it was there that his knowledge ended'. Meanwhile Corrêa had fled to Belgium with his aristocratic family when Brazil declared independence from Portugal in 1888 but was cut off from the family fortune when he married against his parents wishes.

Turning to art as a way to make ends meet and after reading the French edition of the book, he sketched his own vision of the Martian invasion. Then - in 1903 - Corrêa took his drawings to London to show Wells - and the author was so impressed he instantly hired him to illustrate the rare 500-copy limited edition I was talking about.

Stefan Gefter, an expert at the auction house, said:

'There was nothing like them before Henrique Alvim Corrêa put his vision to paper for the 1906 edition, the first special edition publication of The War of the Worlds. Pretty much everything you see in science fiction art involving death rays and aliens that followed was, one could argue, inspired by this relatively unsung hero of the genre.

'Whereas today's artists have 100 years of art and literature to draw from this fellow had nothing other than the images in his head. That makes these historical pieces above and beyond just really imaginative drawings.' 

Which is a good point, the irony of which is that there is so much easily available great art out there now, it's likely that it gets copied in the subconscious, but this isn't the place for such a conversation. 

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While I was looking into that, I found some illustrations for the book that one of my other icons of cool had put together for it. If I said it was a surprise to me that Ray Harryhausen got nowhere fast with it, that would be an understatement to say the least: 

Here's some bonus test reel footage he created for a pitch to RKO in 1949:

Meanwhile - and slightly related - take a look at this from Great Martian War created by Christian Johnson and Steve Maher:

I am lost for words. You can find more on their little project right here.

Note to self: catch up with these guys and see what makes them tick.

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Footnote: some of Warwick Goble's work is great. When you read it in the context of this War of the Worlds story, it makes him sound like an amateur but he really wasn't. Go search.

Sion Smith