John Berkey; Elvis; Twilight Zone (News from the frontier, 5/14/2008)

Artist John Berkey, 1932-2008
Berkey's Elvis Stamp BStarWars.com reported yesterday that artist John Berkey passed away on April 29. He was 75. Berkey painted the cover of the 1976 novelization of Star Wars, an image that continued to appear on early editions of the book. Berkey also painted a poster depicting a dogfight over the Death Star, used as an insert in the original Star Wars soundtrack LP.

The StarWars.com article includes a link to a gallery of ten Berkey Star Wars images. Unfortunately, their link does not work properly and you cannot access the controls to move beyond the first image. Here is a corrected link to StarWars.com’s “John Berkey Remembered” gallery that will allow you to toggle through those images (I hope the folks over at StarWars.com do not mind). You can also find pictures of Berkey’s work in 2005’s The Star Wars Poster Book by Stephen J. Sansweet and Peter Vilmur. Though known for his science fiction and Star Wars art, Berkey was reportedly not a science fiction fan and never saw Star Wars.

Elvis Presley, 1973For a 1992 US Postal Servicing stamp voting campaign, Berkey also painted “Elvis Stamp B” (above), which depicted Elvis Presley as he appeared in his historic 1973 Aloha From Hawaii TV special (right). Berkey’s image lost to Mark Stutzman’s “Elvis Stamp A,” which depicted Elvis in 1956, his first year of national fame. Stutzman’s 1950s Elvis image became an official US stamp the following year, while Berkey’s 1970s Elvis image was never issued.

I voted for Berkey’s Elvis stamp back in 1992 and never knew about his Star Wars connection until reading The Star Wars Poster Book a couple of years ago. Though, again, I had no idea who the artist was back then, I actually had several posters of Berkey’s science fiction and fantasy imagery hanging in my bedroom when I was growing up. He was a real talent and will be missed. For more information, read Berkey’s obituary at StarTribune.com.

Elvis: That’s The Way It Is (FTD Classic Album Series) available this week
Follow That Dream (FTD) records, BMG’s Elvis Presley collectors label, is scheduled to release a 2-CD set of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is this week to the US as part of its “Classic Album Series.”

This 2008 edition of the 1970 album includes all of the original tracks, plus numerous alternate takes, a 20-page booklet, and other extras. The new Elvis: That’s The Way It Is CD set was first released in Europe last month.

Check out Thomas’ review, over at his Elvis Today blog, and Lex’s review, over at ElvisNews.com. To obtain FTD CDs, visit ShopElvis.com. Most FTD CDs are much more interesting than the mainstream “greatest hits”-style Elvis CDs you’ll find at your local store.

Twilight Zone graphic novels on the way for 50th anniversary
It is hard to believe that 2009 will mark the 50th anniversary of the television debut of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. Next to the original Star Trek, The Twilight Zone is my favorite TV series. I grew up watching both of them, and still watch them now (yet another indication that, in fact, I never did grow up).

Publishers Weekly announced earlier this month that Walker & Co. will release a series of graphic novels based on Twilight Zone‘s original scripts, in conjunction with Rod Serling’s estate. There will be at least eight graphic novels in all. Look for the first to hit US stores in October.