Kickstart This: ‘Rayguns And Rocketships’ – Rian Hughes’ Celebration Of Vintage Brit Sci-Fi Covers

by Richard Bruton

Another fabulous looking project over on Kickstarter right now – Rian HughesRayguns and Rocketships. Get out your wallets folks, this is one that looks real good…

Coming out from London-based publisher Korero Press, Rayguns and Rockets is Hughes’ celebration of the world of vintage British science-fiction paperback cover art.

“Rayguns and rockets! Spacesuited heroes caught in the tentacles of evil insectoid aliens! Who could resist such wonders? Science-fiction paperbacks exploded over the 1940s and ’50s literary landscape with the force of an alien gamma bomb. Titles such as Rodent Mutation, The Human Bat vs The Robot Gangster, Dawn of the Mutants and Mushroom Men from Mars appeared from fly-by-night publishers making the most of the end of post-war paper rationing. They were brash and seductive – for around a shilling the future was yours.”

Hughes, as you should know, is a hugely successful artist and graphic designer. Over the years, if a cover design or a logo has caught your eye in comics, there’s a fair chance he’s had a hand in it. More recently, he’s authored The Black Locomotive and XX, published by Picador.


But this one feels more like a labour of love, a look back at a time when these Brit sci-fi books were a mass-produced garish delight, often beginning with a pre-commissioned cover and a title from the publisher and then knocked out at incredible pace by writers.

Rayguns and Rocketships brings together so many of the covers to the books, gloriously over the top, colourful, out and out weird, but all just perfect for the years post WWII, where the country and the world looked to the stars and wondered.

It’s no surprise that this one hit its modest goal within moments of launching but there’s plenty of stretch goals to uncover as the campaign goes on.

Rayguns and Rocketships by Rian Hughes is on Kickstarter now with a campaign that ends on 11th February.

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