Mel Hunter

Milford "Mel" Joseph Hunter (July 27, 1927 – February 20, 2004) was a 20th-century American illustrator. He enjoyed a successful career as a science fiction illustrator, producing illustrations for famous science fiction authors such as Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein, as well as a technical and scientific illustrator for clients such as The Pentagon, Hayden Planetarium, and the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

Mel Hunter
BornJuly 27, 1927
DiedFebruary 20, 2004 (aged 76)
Cause of deathBone cancer
EducationAttended Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
OccupationScientific illustrator
Known forScience fiction illustration
Spouse(s)Susan Smith-Hunter
ChildrenLisa Hunter, Scott Hunter


Early life

Mel Hunter's life began with a troubled childhood in Oak Park, Illinois, where he was physically and psychologically abused by a humorless father. "He never knew his mother because she was banished from the household by his father when he was only two years old. While he never forgot the abuse, he didn't seem to dwell on it. Instead, he poured himself into his work and career," said his third wife, Susan Smith-Hunter.[1]

Hunter entered college a year early, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. After college he held a variety of odd jobs, but finally landed a draftsman job at Northrop Aircraft Corp in California. In 1950, Hunter decided to pursue a career in art and began to teach himself illustration in his spare time.

Science Fiction Illustration

Universe science fiction 195312
"Sunbathing in Space", 1953

With a growing understanding of the fields of astronomy, astronautics, and aviation Hunter set out to teach himself book and magazine illustration. He moved to New York City during the early 1950s, and by 1953 he had successfully sold his first color cover to Galaxy Science Fiction magazine and talked himself into a technical illustrator at Northrop Aircraft where he painted illustrations of advanced aircraft and simulated combat scenarios.

During that time, the most lucrative outlet for space artists was the science-fiction genre. Along with a fertile imagination, Hunter coupled his art with realism and technical accuracy. Hunter's whimsical science fiction robots became his signature to thousands of science fiction fans; the skeletal steel robots graced the covers of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction well into the 1970s. Hunter's lonely robots were often depicted walking solo through the desolate landscapes of nuclear ruins or alien planets.

Hunter was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist for the years 1960-1962.

Technical and Scientific Illustration

Mel Hunter Painting 1
Sample of Mel Hunter's scientific illustration.

As Hunter's science fiction career blossomed, so did his technical and scientific illustrations. Hunter's love of air and space took him from California's desert runways to Florida's seacoast launchpads to illustrate every variety of jet-age aircraft and space-age rocket imaginable—from X-15 to Saturn V.

One of Hunter's best-known books is "The Missilemen", a photo illustrated work published in 1960 by Doubleday. Hunter visited U.S. rocket and missile sites during the late 1950s; he took all of the book's black-and-white photographs. It was a rare look inside the world of rocket scientists and engineers of the early space age. Another Hunter book, "Strategic Air Command", received the Aviation Writers' Association highest honors in 1961.

"Mel launched a career in scientific illustration after he was an established science-fiction illustrator," said Smith-Hunter. "He was very technically accurate and was commissioned to complete 26 paintings of celestial objects for the Hayden Planetarium in New York City."[2]

Naturalistic Lithography

Mel Hunter Natural Painting
An original lithography by Mel Hunter.

After 17 years of technical and scientific illustration, Hunter moved from New York to Chester, Vermont in 1967. He began creating lithographic prints depicting the natural scenes which surrounded him. The following year, he was commissioned to create a series of more than 130 watercolors of "Birds of the Northeast" by Abercrombie & Fitch Galleries and Massachusetts Audubon Society. By 1970, Hunter signed a contract with World Publishing Co. for a series of 13 ecological books for children, dealing with topics like the beginning of the earth, mankind, plants, birds, mammals and insects.

In 1976, after accidental damage to his limestone lithographic drawing, Hunter began using mylar as a medium for his lithography, and published a controversial photo-illustrated article in the American Artist Magazine entitled "Revolution in Hand-Drawn Lithography". In 1984, Hunter published his seminal hardcover textbook, The New Lithography which details the "Mylar Method", still in wide use today.


Although diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in the 1990s, Hunter died of bone cancer in February 2004. True to his final wish, an attempt was made to launch his cremated remains into space. A private launch, coordinated by Space Services Inc. on the New Frontier Flight was successful on May 22, 2012.


  1. ^ Mel Hunter, February 2007
  2. ^ Mel Hunter, June 2008

See also

External links

1956 Grand Canyon mid-air collision

The Grand Canyon mid-air collision occurred on June 30, 1956, when a United Airlines Douglas DC-7 struck a Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation over the Grand Canyon National Park. All 128 on board both flights perished, making it the first commercial airline crash to result in more than 100 deaths.

The collision took place in uncontrolled airspace, where it was the pilots' own responsibility to maintain separation ("See and be seen"). This highlighted the antiquated state of air traffic control, which became the focus of major aviation reforms.

Atascadero State Hospital

Atascadero State Hospital (ASH) is located on the Central Coast of California, in San Luis Obispo County, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It is an all-male, maximum-security facility, that houses mentally ill convicts who have been committed to psychiatric facilities by California's courts. Located in the city of Atascadero, California, it is the largest employer in that town.

Fantastic Universe

Fantastic Universe was a U.S. science fiction magazine which began publishing in the 1950s. It ran for 69 issues, from June 1953 to March 1960, under two different publishers. It was part of the explosion of science fiction magazine publishing in the 1950s in the United States, and was moderately successful, outlasting almost all of its competitors. The main editors were Leo Margulies (1954–1956) and Hans Stefan Santesson (1956–1960); under Santesson's tenure the quality declined somewhat, and the magazine became known for printing much UFO-related material. A collection of stories from the magazine, edited by Santesson, appeared in 1960 from Prentice-Hall, titled The Fantastic Universe Omnibus.

Gnome Press

Gnome Press was an American small-press publishing company primarily known for publishing many science fiction classics. Gnome was one of the most eminent of the fan publishers of SF, producing 86 titles in its lifespan — many considered classic works of SF and Fantasy today. Gnome was important in the transitional period between Genre SF as a magazine phenomenon and its arrival in mass-market book publishing, but proved too underfunded to make the leap from fan-based publishing to the professional level. The company existed for just over a decade, ultimately failing due to inability to compete with major publishers who also started to publish science fiction. In its heyday, Gnome published many of the major SF authors, and in some cases, as with Robert E. Howard's Conan series (published in six books from 1950 – 1955) and Isaac Asimov's Foundation series (published in three books from 1951 – 1953), was responsible for the manner in which their stories were collected into book form.

Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist

The Hugo Awards are given every year by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was once officially known as the Science Fiction Achievement Award. The award has been described as "a fine showcase for speculative fiction" and "the best known literary award for science fiction writing". The Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist is given each year for artists of works related to science fiction or fantasy released in the previous calendar year.The Professional Artist award has been given annually under several names since 1955, with the exception of 1957. The inaugural 1953 Hugo awards recognized "Best Interior Illustrator" and "Best Cover Artist" categories, awarded to Virgil Finlay and a tie between Hannes Bok and Ed Emshwiller, respectively. The Best Professional Artist award was simply named "Best Artist" in 1955 and 1956, was not awarded in 1957, and was named "Outstanding Artist" in 1958, finally changing to its current name the following year. Beginning in 1996 Retrospective Hugo Awards, or "Retro Hugos", have been available to be awarded for years 50, 75, or 100 years prior in which no awards were given. To date, Retro Hugo awards have been awarded for 1939, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1951, and 1954, and in each case an award for professional artist was given.Hugo Award nominees and winners are chosen by supporting or attending members of the annual World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, and the presentation evening constitutes its central event. The selection process is defined in the World Science Fiction Society Constitution as instant-runoff voting with six nominees, except in the case of a tie. The works on the ballot are the six most-nominated by members that year, with no limit on the number of works that can be nominated. The awards in 1955 and 1958 did not include any recognition of runner-up artists, but since 1959 all six candidates have been recorded. Initial nominations are made by members in January through March, while voting on the ballot of six nominations is performed roughly in April through July, subject to change depending on when that year's Worldcon is held. Prior to 2017, the final ballot was five works; it was changed that year to six, with each initial nominator limited to five nominations. Worldcons are generally held near Labor Day, and in a different city around the world each year.During the 69 nomination years, 79 artists have been nominated; 23 of these have won, including co-winners and Retro Hugos. Michael Whelan has received the most awards, with 13 wins out of 24 nominations. Frank Kelly Freas has 11 wins and 28 nominations, the most nominations of any artist. Other artists with large numbers of wins or nominations include Bob Eggleton with 8 wins out of 23 nominations, Virgil Finlay with 4 out of 13, Ed Emshwiller with 4 out of 9, and Don Maitz with 2 out of 17. David A. Cherry and Thomas Canty are tied for the most nominations without an award at 10 each.

List of EastEnders characters (2018)

The following is a list of characters that first appeared in the BBC soap opera EastEnders in 2018, by order of first appearance. All characters are introduced by the show's executive consultant, John Yorke. Madhav Sharma and Indira Joshi made their first appearances in January as Arshad Ahmed and Mariam Ahmed, the uncle and aunt of Masood Ahmed (Nitin Ganatra). Callum "Halfway" Highway (Tony Clay), a friend of the Carter family, Ciara Maguire (Denise McCormack), the former wife of Aidan Maguire (Patrick Bergin), and Daisy (Amelie Smith), one of Arshad and Mariam's foster children, also debuted in January. Dan and Ashley (Ifan Meredith and Ashley Cook), Daisy's adoptive parents, Hunter Owen, the son of Mel Owen (Tamzin Outhwaite) and Steve Owen (Martin Kemp), Hayley Slater (Katie Jarvis), the cousin of Stacey Fowler (Lacey Turner), and Georgi (Holly Donovan) first appear in February. Mitch Baker (Roger Griffiths), Keegan Baker's (Zack Morris) father, and Harley, a foster child of Mariam and Arshad, debuts in March. Judith Thompson (Emma Fielding), the daughter of Ted Murray (Christopher Timothy) and Joyce Murray (Maggie Steed), and Harley's parents, Bijan (Jonas Khan) and Chloe (Lauren Fitzpatrick), appear in April. Henry (Andrew Alexander) also debuts in April. May sees the introductions of Stuart Highway (Ricky Champ), Halfway's brother, Umar Kazemi (Selva Rasalingam), the father of Kush Kazemi (Davood Ghadami) and Shakil Kazemi (Shaheen Jafargholi), and Darius Kazemi (Ash Rizi), Kush and Shakil's brother. Amal Hussain (Natasha Jayetileke) appears in June, while Jessica Jones (Tara Lee) made her first appearance in July. Adam Bateman (Stephen Rahman-Hughes) joins the cast in August and Marky (Niall O'Mara) also appears during the month. Ray Kelly (Sean Mahon), Zara Highway (Faye Daveney) and Bev Slater (Ashley McGuire) all debuted in September. Cherry Slater, the daughter of Hayley and Alfie Moon (Shane Richie), first debuted in October and in November, Evie Steele (Sophia Capasso) made her first appearance.

Marshall Thompson

Marshall Thompson (November 27, 1925 – May 18, 1992) was an American film and television actor.

Stadium Beyond the Stars

Stadium Beyond the Stars is a juvenile science fiction novel by Milton Lesser published in 1960 by Holt, Rinehart & Winston with cover illustration by Mel Hunter. The story follows the adventures of Steve Frazer, a champion spacesuit racer on Earth's Olympic team, as the ship taking him and the rest of the team to the center of the galaxy for the Interstellar Olympic Games intercepts a mysterious derelict spaceship. Stadium Beyond the Stars is a part of the Winston Science Fiction set, a series of juvenile novels which have become famous for their influence on young science fiction readers and their exceptional cover illustrations by award winning artists.

Winston Science Fiction

Winston Science Fiction was a series of 37 American juvenile science fiction books published by the John C. Winston Company of Philadelphia from 1952 to 1960 and by its successor Holt, Rinehart & Winston in 1960 and 1961. It included 35 novels by various writers, including many who became famous in the SF field, such as Poul Anderson, Arthur C. Clarke, Ben Bova, and Lester del Rey. There was also one anthology, The Year After Tomorrow, edited by del Rey and others. There was one non-fiction book Rockets through Space: The Story of Man's Preparations to Explore the Universe by del Rey which details the factual science and technology of rocket flight. Many of the dust jackets became science fiction classics; the artists included Hugo Award winners Ed Emshwiller and Virgil Finlay along with Hugo nominees such as Mel Hunter and Alex Schomburg.

World of Giants

World of Giants (a.k.a. W-O-G) is an American black-and-white science fiction spy-fi television series that aired in syndication from September 5, 1959 until November 28, 1959. It starred Marshall Thompson and Arthur Franz.

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