By GW Thomas
It would be fair to describe Knight’s art style as “cartoony.” That first sale to Ray Palmer was a cartoon. The cover he drew for the fanzine, Le Zombie in January 1940 has the same line-oriented feel. Despite this simplified style, Knight puts it to good use, adding more atmosphere and interest with delicate shading and atmospheric tones, eventually working on black scratch board. His work appeared primarily in Science Fiction Quarterly, Future, Super Science Stories, and Weird Tales, all low-paying art markets. This also explains why his artwork is so hard to find. With the exception of Weird Tales, these magazines were small timers and not collected as widely. (I imagined only for a random second that it was because Knight had purchased up as many copies as possible over the years and destroyed them. Like I said, only for a second.)
After the reprinting of “Herbert West, Reanimator: Part 4” (November 1942), most of Damon Knight’s work for Weird Tales was illustrating poems, but in January 1943, Knight got to illustrate Mary Elizabeth Counselman’s “Seventh Sister.” By 1946, Knight put away the drawing pencils for the blue ones. With new markets coming like The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and Galaxy, he was ready to explore SF through words alone. His last illo was “The Haunted Stairs” in Weird Tales, May 1946. Knight was twenty-four. Any dreams of being another Hannes Bok or Lee Brown Coye were abandoned for the typewriter. Sadly, Knight never got to illustrate one of his own stories.
GW Thomas has appeared in over 400 different books, magazines and ezines including The Writer, Writer's Digest, Black October Magazine and Contact. His website is gwthomas.org. He is editor of Dark Worlds magazine.