Has Barlowe's art shown up on this blog at some point? I don't know if he really counts as 'vintage', but I had a copy of Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials growing up and it was a pretty major part of getting me into sci-fi.
I’m a huge fan of Wayne Barlowe! His amazing strength is that he can imagine landscapes and creatures that are truly, unnervingly alien and otherworldly. It’s no wonder he was contacted to do the design work on the monsters in Pacific Rim.
If I had to identify why so many of his monsters are creepy, it’s that they don’t have eyes. This implies other alien sense organs, plus it means you can’t look into them and relate.
Wayne Barlowe’s work always feels off and full of dread, even when he does something “normal.” For instance, like so many other artists, he painted a mermaid:
And I absolutely loved his Guide to Extraterrestrials. In the days before fan art was a thing, it was incredible to visualize creatures I’d only read about and had to imagine, like the Puppeteers, Worsel the Dragon Lensman (who he drew as an alien snake instead of as a dragon).
My favorite drawing of all in that book was Whitley Strieber’s Wolfen. I love that book, because it’s important to remember that the Wolfen are not true wolves, but are a predator that evolved with humans in secret in cities, and learned to pick off people that wouldn’t be missed. Among other things, they can figure out how to open doors. By elongating their proportions, he made them look truly disturbing:
Silva in lumine Lunae arcana est Domus mea Silva in lumine Stellarum est
Es ist das Tier in mir! It’s the animal in me Es weckt die Gier nach dir! It wakes the greed for you Hab dich zum Fressen gern! Love you to bits (literally: love to eat you) Kannst du mein Verlangen spürn? Can you feel my desire?