Visions of the Future: Sixty Years of Perry Rhodan Art

Visions of the Future: Sixty Years of Perry Rhodan Art

My favorite science fiction series has always been Perry Rhodan, with the first German episode published in September 1961 (authors Karl Herbert Scheer and Clark Darlton) by Moewig Publishing. Although the U.S. editions ceased in 1979 after #137, in its native Germany the series continues to this day in various forms, with over 3,200 episodes in the main series and counting. According to author Andreas Eschbach, reading Perry Rhodan would roughly compare to reading 560 Harry Potter books.

The covers and internal illustrations for the first 1,800 German episodes were created by Johnny Bruck. Today a number of illustrators work for Perry Rhodan, with Alfred Kelsner being the only one still painting original art (vs. digital graphics). Perry Rhodan is considered the most successful science fiction series in Germany – a true classic!

[Click the images to see Visions of larger versions.]

The colorful covers were created by multiple illustrators, generally with Tempera and Gouache colors or acryl mixed media on illustration board. Several artists became known for Perry Rhodan covers and illustrations, among them Johnny Bruck, the grandmaster of early Perry Rhodan artwork.

Today Alfred Kelsner, Arndt Drechsler-Zakrzewski, Dirk Schulz, Dominic Beyeler, and Swen Papenbrock are very actively working for the series, just to name a few. Nowadays, covers of novels and books are of course generated digitally.

Many illustrative visions of the future were created in which space and the unknown were explored, freedom defended, and many new worlds discovered. In the introduction of the first PR episode from 1961 you can read the following:

Perry Rhodan leads us in the millennia ahead of us beyond the voids to galactic empires which have been waiting for us for millions of years. It leads us to a time in which the descendants of humanity talk about Earth like a myth, and a lonely planet revolves around the long gone sun.

This vision gave rise to an epochal pulp series with amazing covers and illustrations for more than 60 years.

We are pleased that we can preserve some these wonderful artworks for future generations, and that we can make them accessible to the public in the form of exhibitions.

The Perry Rhodan universe comes in novels, paperpacks, books, spinoff series (Atlan), comics, audio and digital versions, games, model kits, trading card games, a movie, and much more. I started reading Perry Rhodan when I was 12 years old and I still read the weekly edition of the main pulp publication.

What’s my favorite Perry Rhodan artwork? My favorite illustrator is Johnny Bruck (1921 – 1995), who created more than 4,000 pieces of cover artwork and illustrations for the Perry Rhodan universe of publications.

German pulp editions of Perry Rhodan: #471 The Last Test,
#498 The Return of the Takeran, and Planet Novels #96 The Girl from Nowhere

Of course, there are the classic early covers from 1961 which are amazing. On the other hand, there are a few of my personal cover art favorites which I like to point out. From the main German pulp series, that would be #471 (The Last Test) and #498 (The Return of the Takeran), and from the Planet Novels the cover of #96 (The Girl from Nowhere).

As far as the U.S. Perry Rhodan ACE publications, Johnny Bruck contributed some of the first edition covers from which I was lucky to pick up #6 (The Secret of the Time Vault), #10 (The Ghosts of Gol), and #13 (The Immortal Unknown).

Ace paperback Perry Rhodan artwork: #6 The Secret of the Time Vault,
#10 The Ghosts of Gol, and #13 The Immortal Unknown

In any case, if someone wants to learn more about Perry Rhodan art, I plan to be at the Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention in Chicago in May 2024! Moreover, I will have a large exhibition at Verkehrshaus Lucerne (Switzerland) starting at the Space Days event in October 2023.

Ad Astra – To the Stars!

Markus Rohrwild – Collection Rohrwild
© With permission of Heinrich Bauer Verlag KG (Hamburg) for the entire graphical content; Contact:

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Tom Kovacs

Born in August 1960 I am one year older than Perry Rhodan. I saw the first German editions on the newsstands when I was 10 and this epic space opera series is still part of my life. Cover illustrator Johnny Bruck made a huge imprint on my young mind and that’s how I still perceive the PR universe. The retro charme of Bruck’s visions is fantastic. It’s almost as if somewhere in an alternate universe, in another dimension this future of humanity really exists. Without Johnny Bruck the “Perryverse” would be a completely different one. At least for me. I’m looking forward to the exhibition in Lucerne. Thanks, Markus!

John MacMaster

I recently uncovered my small stash of German issues (about ten of them) while I was moving out of my old apartment! But sadly, I had to promptly repack them and send them into storage… Although I can’t read them anyway – since I don’t speak or read the language – it’s still nice to have them, even so. Travelling isn’t something I’m able to do either, so I can’t go to see the exhibition; but, good luck with it, in any case!

[…] Art of Science Fiction (Black Gate) – Perry Rhodan leads us in the millennia ahead of us beyond the voids to galactic empires […]

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