Ken Kelly Cover Art for Richard Avery’s The Expendables (1975 – 1976)

Deathworms Kelly 1975

Tantalus Kelly 1975

Zelos Ken Kelly 1975

Argus Ken Kelly 1975

Ken Kelly and Frank Frazetta are family, and Kelly grew up admiring the work of his “Uncle Frank.” The Frazetta style—the overwhelmingly imperiled Romantic hero set against a backdrop of otherworldly colors and atmosphere—is obvious here.

Kelly would never completely escape his mentor’s shadow, but a lot of his sci-fi work is wonderfully unique. These are some of his earliest covers.

8 Responses to “Ken Kelly Cover Art for Richard Avery’s <em>The Expendables</em> (1975 – 1976)”


  1. 1 J February 19, 2014 at 2:15 am

    I was never a big fan of Ken Kelly, but times have changed and I miss this kind of art. Sterile, professional and uncomfortably adolescent, the majority of modern science fiction/ fantasy art is boring. Gothic Baywatch-rejects cosplaying with bloated and grotesque Gigerian-pokemon, striking poses for the “camera”. I’ll take one Ken Kelly or Gervasio Gallardo (better yet, Dugald Scott Walker) for a thousand Wayne Reynolds and R.K. Posts.

    • 2 2W2N February 19, 2014 at 3:44 am

      “Uncomfortably adolescent” is so well said. I googled Wayne Reynolds and was not amused by what turned up.

      I do like Kelly’s Micronauts stuff, don’t you? Has there ever been cooler packaging art?

      • 3 J February 19, 2014 at 4:53 am

        Yeah. The Micronauts toys are still impressive. Some of them weirded me out as a child, so thumbs up. Very different now though. I couldn’t imagine a mass market toyline utilizing an artist like that today. The only thing further out in left field, would be like if Hasbro hired The Sucklord to redesign GI Joe or something.

  2. 4 J February 19, 2014 at 2:20 am

    Oops, sorry. I meant Dugald Stewart Walker. The burritos are melting my brain.

  3. 5 leftylimbo February 19, 2014 at 10:45 am

    So freakin’ cool. Whenever I see this art I always wonder where the heck the originals are. Something tells me they’re like, filed away in some attic or something between old bookcases and what not.

    We’re really lucky to have grown up with that stuff and have learned to appreciate it. These days it’s getting harder and harder to distinguish what’s actually drawn and/or hand-rendered by human beings, and what’s simply generated by computers via algorithms.

    Man. Remember matte painting? Talk about a lost art. Geez.

  4. 6 J February 20, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Matte painting is why I enjoy old movies. Sometimes I don’t even really pay attention to the dialogue or what have you. Those places. Those sets. The clothing. Enchanting. Best example, David Lynch’s Dune. Normally I dislike any attempt to film books, but there is some stunning artistry at work in that movie. Things that equal anything Frank Herbert wrote. Even the score by Toto is alright.

  5. 7 Jack Badelaire (@jbadelaire) March 18, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    I’m not as big a fan of Kelly’s work in the ’90s, but this older material is fantastic. I just ordered the first Expendables novel on Amazon. Really looking forward to some pulp sci-fi.

    • 8 2W2N March 18, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      Jack, let me know how it is, would you? I got the whole series on eBay for 10 bucks and was planning to start it when I’m done with my current Fritz Leiber anthology.


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