Bruce Cornwell: Britain's Ralph McQuarrie

News CJ Wheeler
5 Mar 2012 - 21:45
Dan Dare Bruce Cornwell

Concept artist Ralph McQuarrie's death overshadowed another loss to science fiction art. CJ pays tribute to Eagle illustrator Bruce Cornwell...


The Internet was flooded with tributes to Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek artist Ralph McQuarrie over the weekend.

A less celebrated but influential illustrator passed away on March 2nd, just prior to McQuarrie. Talented designer Bruce Cornwell handled the high-tech futurism of UK comic Eagle in the '50s and '60s, when Britain still looked towards space and aliens were still little, green and mean. 

Cornwell was born and raised in North America but settled in England after studying art in London and Paris. The Second World War saw the artist join the Merchant Navy, a pastime that would influence his later illustration. 

Eagle and Cornwell happened across one another in 1950. Bruce's specialism in the Eagle team was spacecraft and machinery. In his spare time he was also a keen collector of classic cars.

Bruce answered an advertisement in a trade paper and joined Frank Hampson's team working on Dan Dare. Nefarious scientist Dr. Blasco was modelled on the artist. Heavy workloads pushed Bruce away from Hampson's team at Eagle but he would rejoin and leave several times.

The hardware of science fiction was a natural medium for Bruce. He illustrated E.C. Eliott's Kemlo and Tas series of space adventures stories for children, and sci-fi strips in Junior Mirror and Express Weekly.

Cornwell also worked on book illustrations and provided work for several 1960s Doctor Who storybook annuals: The Dalek Book and The Dalek World.

Eagle Times and Down the Tubes

See some of Bruce's art at Spaceship Away here.

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