Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Kirby, Josh

(1928-2001) UK artist and illustrator whose teeming, ebullient oil paintings have been used most famously since 1984 for the Gollancz, Corgi and Doubleday covers of the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett. These illustrations create fantasy worlds peopled by a tumbling mass of clumsy ogres, gesticulating wizards, chunky barbarians and busty nymphettes, all with enormous joie de vivre. His rich colour range and monumental compositions show the influence of the mural painter Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956).

JK early gained a reputation as a portraitist, but quickly turned to book-cover Illustration, discovering a flair for sf. His early illustrations – for editions of works by Lin Carter (DAW Books 1979-1981), Ron Goulart (DAW Books 1980-1982), Robert Silverberg (Pan Books 1983) – differ in nature from his later covers, for Craig Shaw Gardner (Headline 1987-1989) and Pratchett. He has also painted movie posters for Starflight One (1981), The Beastmaster (1982), Krull (1983), Morons from Outer Space (1985) and Return of the Jedi (1983). [RT]

other works: The Josh Kirby Poster Book, As Inspired by Terry Pratchett's Discworld Novels (portfolio 1989); Eric (1990), published as a co-authorship with Pratchett; In the Garden of Unearthly Delights: The Paintings of Josh Kirby (graph coll 1991) with text by Nigel Suckling; The Josh Kirby Discworld Portfolio (portfolio 1993).

Josh Kirby

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.