DOLGOV: ARTIST OF DARKNESS & LIGHT
Parrish and Boris Dolgov (Photo by Hannes Bok)
an artist for Weird Tales was not a fast track
to fame and fortune. It is only in retrospect that names
like Hugh Rankin, A. R. Tilburne, Hannes Bok, Lee Brown
Coye and Vincent Napoli take on a luster of grandeur.
At the time, the gig of producing illos for WT was low-paying
and largely obscure. Some, like Lee Brown Coye, were able
to establish their reputations in the art world after
a long apprenticeship in the Pulps. Most are the select
favorites of fans. Boris Dolgov was one of these truly
brilliant illustrators who time has not been as kind to
as should be.
Ashton Smith's "Who Are the Living?"
Dolgov produce the bulk of his work for Weird Tales
between 1941 and 1954. His style is idiosyncratic but
delightful, with thin faerie characters, often lighter
than air, but never cloyingly delicate like a Victorian
visitor to Conan Doyle's garden. They possess sharp eyes
that promises behind the otherworldly form lies something
darker. It is this quality that allows Dolgov to illustrate
any kind of story for WT. He was good with Manly Wade
Wellman creepers or Edmond Hamilton Fantasy or even robots
and space ships.
dressing for HPL poem
did five covers for Weird Tales, each colorful
and distinctive. This may be, that like Hannes Bok, one
of his inspirations was Maxfield Parrish. Bok took a picture
of Dolgov and Parrish together, so the idol had real contact
with his acolytes. It is in the covers you see this heritage,
but in the drawings Dolgov looks more like Harry Clarke,
with weirdly elongated human figures or more cartoony
like the work of Sidney Sime. And it is in the black and
white work that Dolgov was truly unbeatable. He could
dress up a boring little piece of verse with a few wispy
weeds and make the filler something to notice.
for the story that pushed Bloch into the forefront of
there is little personal information on Dolgov. Unlike
Hannes Bok, Dolgov never had a Lin Carter to chronicle
some glimpse of those days back in the 1940s and 50s,
when great stories were illustrated by great pictures.
We will never know Dolgov's thoughts on illustrating classics
like Robert Bloch's "Your Truly, Jack the Ripper"
or Clark Ashton Smith, "Who Are the Living?"
His work has to speak for itself. Fortunately, it speaks
well and clearly of things unimaginable.