Vintage SciFi Artists – A Few More Favourites

Vintage SciFi Header showing spaceship alien with ray-gun and space man


This one’s for Bookstooge – it only took the vaguest suggestion that another book cover post might be welcome and, well, here we are.

When I was planning my first post about some of my favourite SF cover artists of bygone years I was frustrated not to be able to find more information about some of them. Two, in particular, John Cayea and Anita Siegel, worked for only a very short period of time as cover artists before moving on to other things and so, with so little info to work with, I didn’t include them in that first post. I’ll fix that here. Because despite the lack of biographical details available for these artists, I really do love their work.

Also, I don’t think I mentioned in my last post that I have used the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) for all the images in this and my previous post. It’s a great site not only for artist credits but also for publication histories, and it makes my librarian heart happy.


John Cayea

Cayea was active between 1970 and 1981 as a cover artist for Doubleday, and that’s all folks! Birth date? Unknown. Still alive? Unknown. I found a John Cayea who passed away in New York in 2008 aged seventy, but the chances of this being the same John Cayea are remote, however tempting it is to assume a connection.

I really do love his work though. I love his stylized images, muted use of colour and the general weirdness of each of these. I wish he’d done more. I haven’t included it here, but his most well-known cover is the one he did for the first edition of Stephen King’s The Stand. For me, those two Zeor covers are my favourites (tantacles forever!).

John Cayea cover art for The Deep by John Crowley     John Cayea cover art for Total Eclipse by John Brunner

John Cayea cover art for Under a Calculating Star by John Morressy

John Cayea cover art for House of Zeor by Jacqueline Lichtenberg    John Cayea cover art for Unto Zeor Forever by Jacqueline Lichtenberg



Anita Siegel 1939-2011

Siegel was a self-taught artist who worked in both collage and sculpture. She did only nine pieces of work for Doubleday and another two for Charles Scribner’s Sons as far as I can see from ISFDB. However, she did pieces for a number of magazines and her work was exhibited in the US, France and Belgium, so even if she wasn’t doing book covers, she was still creating art.

I guess this style is very of its time. I love collage, but it can date quickly. Still, I adore seeing disparate images sandwiched together to create new ideas and shapes and feelings, and Siegel does it brilliantly.

I find it interesting to see who gets attention and who doesn’t out in the world wide web. I also find it frustrating. So little is know about Cayea, for example, that there are no sites (other than ISFDB) that collect together his work in an easy-to-view format. The same goes for Siegel. However, the rather wonderful Joachim Boaz of Science Fiction Ruminations has shared a post of Siegel’s Doubleday covers and a couple of additional pieces of her work which is well worth a visit. (Boaz does a lot of great posts on vintage cover art – I am so grateful for fellow bloggers!)

Anita Siegel cover art for Alchemy and Academe by Anne McCaffrey     Anita Siegel cover art for Ecodeath by William Jon Watkins and E V Snyder

Anita Siegel cover art for Final Solution by Richard E Peck    Anita Siegel cover art for The Centauri Device by M John Harrison



Paul Lehr 1930-1998

Unlike Cayea and Siegel, Lehr was a much more prolific cover artist, producing over three hundred science fiction book covers during his career. He dominated the mid-Sixties and early Seventies with his fabulous colours and peculiar images. In 1980 and 1981 he was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist, but lost out both times to Michael Whelan (another giant in the world of SFF art).

Lehr studied both at the illustrious Pratt Institute and with Stanley Meltzoff, the first paperback artist to specialise in science fiction imagery in the Fifties. His work has got some of that surreal vibe that Richard Powers was channelling, and he is equally unafraid of colour, but the book covers never quite do justice to his fabulous work. To illustrate the point, take a look at this site where a beautiful bouquet of Lehr’s work has been collected (and where you can see that the book covers just ever quite capture the vibrancy of his images).

Paul Lehr cover art for Close to Critical by Hal Clement    Paul Lehr cover art for Farmer in the Sky by Robert A Heinlein

Paul Lehr cover art for A Life for the Stars by James Blish

Paul Lehr cover art for Starship by Brian Aldiss    Paul Lehr cover art for The First Men in the Moon by H G Wells


And that’s it for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini adventure into the world of vintage SF art. Come again soon.



What did you think? Any covers you recognise? Any vintage SF artists or covers you love that I haven’t mentioned?


  1. Great post! Not that I’m unbiased or anything 😀

    I’ve never been a fan of those collage covers. I like “one” idea presented on my cover and those kinds always seem to be trying to pack in as much as possible. They are literally “too busy” for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are some dreadful covers out there, it’s true! I haven’t been lucky enough to come across many if these artists in real life, but thank goodness for the internet! 😃


  2. The Anita Siegel covers appealed most to me—I like a good collage myself, regardless of period—and while the Paul Lehr examples definitely felt period (I can almost smell the brittle spines of the paperbacks they’re covers for) I thought them pretty stylish.

    Liked by 1 person

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