It’s An Alien Invasion of Sci-Fi Art Covers

Watch out — March 20th is Extraterrestrial Abduction Day.  All of the space aliens have been waiting all year to invade Earth on this day, carefully crafting their abduction schemes.

Well, maybe not all of the aliens out there …


by David Hardy, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1992

This is Bhen, who is too busy traveling around the solar system to have time to plot abductions. Whether skiing on Jupiter’s moon Europa …

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by David Hardy, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1978

or building snow aliens on Uranus’ moon Miranda, Bhen, also known to his fans as “Space Gumby,” became very popular as the unofficial “cover-alien” for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Bhen was the creation of British artist David Hardy and was co-designed by Hardy and cartoonist and stained glass artist Anthony Naylor.  The alien first appeared in December 1975, staring down at the Viking 1 Lander on the surface of Mars, four months after Viking 1 was launched.

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Magazine_hardyd_fant_197511_0191by David Hardy, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1975

Bhen was very popular among the magazine’s fans.  He continued on his space travels and interactions with NASA equipment throughout the years, appearing on 10 covers.  Although thought of as a “little” green alien, Hardy estimated that Bhen would actually have to be over 8 feet tall to be proportional to the equipment.

While the Bhen covers focus on the humorous alien, the backgrounds settings are very vivid and spectacular, showcasing Hardy’s ability to create believable space art.  Hardy, who was influenced by sci-fi artist Chesley Bonestell, started drawing space art before there were telescope images of outer space to use for accuracy .  While science fiction art allows for more flexibility in creating locations that may not be technically correct, Hardy always wanted to make certain the science part of his drawings were accurate.


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“Enigma” by David Hardy, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1971.

Hardy started drawing covers for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1971 and has drawn over 70 covers.  Sometimes the covers are specific depictions of a story from the magazine.

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by David Hardy for “Earthset and Evening Star” by Isaac Asimov, Magazine for Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1975

Hardy started his artist career designing advertising and packaging for the Cadbury candy company in his hometown of Bournville, England, approximately 100 miles northwest of London. He left the company to freelance in 1965.  He has illustrated 20 books and additional magazine covers for science fiction magazines including Analog and If.  Hardy will turn 78 this April.


The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazines are part of Modern Graphic History Library’s Periodicals Collection.

Information for this blog came from:

Astro Art of David A Hardy.  no date.

Atkinson, Nancy. Visions of the Cosmos: The Enduring Space Art of David A. Hardy. Universe Today, May 30. 2012.

Hardy, David A. SFE: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, no date.

Miller, Ron. Review of “Hardyware”.  Infinity Plus, September 29, 2001.

About the author

Andrea Degener is the Visual Materials Processing Archivist in the department of Special Collections at Washington University Libraries.