Images from the McCall Studios website.

Sadly, famed science fiction and space exploration artist, Robert McCall, has died. He passed away on Friday, of a heart attack, in his Scottsdale, Arizona home.

Anybody who’s paid even passing attention to sci-fi, the space program, or postage stamp art has seen Bob McCall’s work. He painted the images on the 2001: A Space Odyssey poster, painted the amazing space mural at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, and created many of the images found on NASA mission patches. His friend Isaac Asimov once described him as the “nearest thing to an artist in residence from outer space.”

I remember pouring over his images as a kid and own a well-traveled copy of Vision of the Future, the Ben Bova book dedicated to McCall’s work. He will be sorely missed by spacey visionaries everywhere. [Thanks, Rachel!]

Famed space artist Robert McCall, 90, dies

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy person’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

  • craig

    I had a hardcover book as a kid with his space fantasy paintings. I would stare at it for hours seeing the logic and functionality in the designs. I would draw my own ships and alien landscapes. To create is one thing, to inspire others is awesome.

    • Gareth Branwyn

      I did that same thing, Craig. I used to love to pore over space art, on book and album covers, in magazines, in the Ben Bova book, etc. and think about the technology that would be used, how the people might live on that ship, how the ships would dock or take off and land, what the daily routines on that moon colony would be like, etc. And then I’d draw my own. Good times.

      • craig

        Let me guess… you used to buy FANTASTIC FILMS and MONSTERS magazine, buy Star Wars cards for 20 cents a pack, go on ‘away missions’ to alien planets in the wooded area behind your house with homemade guns, communicators and gadgets?

        In a parallel universe (Wisconsin) I did that too.

        • Gareth Branwyn

          Yeah, pretty much. I subscribed to Asimov, Amazing Stories, Omni, Heavy Metal, and would pick up Fangoria, Fantastic Films, Famous Monsters, Starlog, etc. I’m probably older than you. I was away living on a farm when Star Wars came out, and although I was a huge fan, I didn’t really collect any of the stuff. Then I got heavily into D&D and that ate up all available cash. From there, I quickly went into sci-fi RPGs (Traveller, Space Opera, GURPS Space), and then, Warhammer 40K. Always been more attracted to space/sci-fi than fantasy.

          • volkemon

            OMNI… what memories, and a great way to escape reality in small town Vermont. I found several issues whilst cleaning out Mom’s place.

            Along with my copy of the ‘Starfleet Manual’ c1975 , or to be exact, 1st edition, stardate 7511.01. Aside from my name in pencil inside the front cover, it shows remarkable lack of wear for all the times I dreamed over it…

            @Gareth- dont let the academia nuts get you down…look at the confusion the literal reading of your words produced! Bob even went the distance to imagine the exact liquids you might have poured over the images…Tons o’ learning, no common sense :)

  • Bob A.

    Gareth, what were you pouring over his images? Milk? Lemonade? If you liked the images so much, why were you ruining them?

    Or did you mean “poring”? That would make sense.

    • Gareth Branwyn

      No need to be snarky about it, Bob. It’s embarrassing enough to be an editor and to make a typo like that without having to have my nose rubbed in it.

      Just saying: “I think you mean pore, not pour,” is all that really needs to be said. Thanks.

  • CircuitGizmo

    (I recently collected some rather old books that I had read as a kid. It is fascinating how seeing the images once more are again a source of inspiration.)

    I don’t know if I can express anything that hasn’t been expressed. Both of those paintings are such a part of my life growing up that it felt like I was returning to my childhood home when I saw them.

    To say Mr. McCall inspired wouldn’t be saying enough. The images provided more fuel for my imagination than fuel for the “rockets”.

    R.I.P. Robert McCall. And thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • pduggan

    Some of the most groundbreaking science fiction art in these fast moving times. This guy is a true inspiration and will be sadly missed. A talent to thank the lord for.
    Paul @ Cheap Printing