Illustration professor creates sci-fi illustrations

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1971)

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1971) 

Illustration Professor and CCAD grad Stewart McKissick (Illustration, 1979) recently completed three illustrations for Little Shoppe of Horrors, a journal of classic British horror and sci-fi films. Ahead of Halloween, we talked with McKissick about the work and his interest in all things horror and sci-fi.


Can you describe the illustrations you did for Little Shoppe of Horrors?

Each one is to accompany an in-depth article about the films. Quartermass is an inside back cover, and the other two are inside spots. Two try to summarize the entire plot of the movie in a montage style, and one is an imaginary scene from an unmade film (Zeppelin). All are digital, either using Adobe Illustrator or a combination of Illustrator & Photoshop.


How did you get connected with Little Shoppe of Horrors?

I had a sabbatical in 2016, during which time I produced a book of highly stylized caricatures of old film stars, including horror and science fiction ones. I also help put on a vintage movie convention each year here in Columbus, and I attend a number of conventions, too. I met the publisher at a show and gave him a copy of my book.

Zeppelin VS Pterodactyls (Unmade proposed film)

Zeppelin VS Pterodactyls (Unmade proposed film) 

Are you a horror or sci-fi fan? If so, what are some of your favorite artists and writers?

Yes, a life-long one. I tend to love vintage films such as the ones I depicted in my illustrations, along with artists and writers going back to the early 20th century or before: pulp illustrators such as J. Allen St. John, Virgil Finlay, and Joseph Mugnaini, and writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, and Arthur Conan Doyle (who wrote science fiction as well as Sherlock Holmes).


What was your inspiration for the work?

All the above, as well as a long love of formal design elements such as shape, color, and texture (comes from all these years at CCAD!), and in the case of the Zeppelin piece, vintage concept art from films like King Kong done by the artists Mario Larrinaga and Byron Crabbe.

Quatermass & the Pit (1967)

Quartermass & the Pit (1967)  (All photos provided by Stew McKissick)

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever seen?

You mean in REAL life? No comment! In films, I think The Haunting (the 1963 version) directed by Robert Wise in the tradition of the Val Lewton films of the 1940s is just about the scariest film ever. I do recall that during a viewing of Alien in 1979, when the creature suddenly bursts from the chest of the unfortunately victim, my friend next to me actually broke the bolts of his theatre chair loose from the floor!


What are you going to wear this Halloween?

Probably gym clothes. Lately I've gone to work out to hide form the trick-or-treaters! But when I do had out candy I usually wear a vintage (surprise!) Frankenstein mask from the 1960s.


Learn more about CCAD's Illustration program.