Monday, August 12, 2013

Ron Cobb

In the hustle and bustle's always nice to take a break and get reacquainted with some of the greats of our field. Today: Ron Cobb.

With no formal art training, Ron began his career at the age of 18 as an "inbetweener" artist for the Walt Disney Studios and eventually graduated to being a "break down artist" for Sleeping Beauty in 1959. His art career was interrupted when he was drafted by the Army in 1960; he served in Vietnam in 1963 as a draughtsman in the Signal Corps. Following his discharge he became an editorial cartoonist for the west coast alternative newspapers (with a special focus on environmental concerns—and he designed the Ecology flag in 1969), as well as a cover artist for Famous Monsters of Filmland, a book cover painter, and ultimately a designer and concept artist for such films as Dark Star, Star Wars, Alien, and Conan the Barbarian, Cobb's career has been both multi-faceted and influential.

Below: Some of Ron's editorial cartoons for The Los Angeles Free Press.

Below: Ron's design for the Ecology flag.

Below: Several of Ron's covers for Famous Monsters of Filmland.

Below: Ron's design for the ship in John Carpenter's first professional film, Dark Star.

Below: Ron's cover for the novel Autumn Angels by Arthur Byron Cover.

Below: Ron's cantina alien concepts for Star Wars.

Below: Several designs for The Nostromo for Alien.

Below: An untitled fantasy painting.

Below: Ron has had several books of his editorial cartoons published, but Colorvision [1981] is the only general art book devoted to his work that's been published so far.

Below: Two concept pieces for 1982's Conan the Barbarian.

Despite a persistent myth that he had retired on the points Steven Spielberg gave him for E.T., Cobb has continued to work in the film industry through the years (Back To the Future, Aliens, The Abyss, The Last Starfighter, Titan A.E., Southland Tales, etc.). You can read (and watch) an interview with him at the Art of Making Marks website.


  1. I remember buying The Book of Alien in 1978/79 (the white cover version), and getting my first heavy dose of Cobb's work. It became one of my "bibles" at the time. Man, I studied that volume hard, until the perfect binding finally started wearing out. I loved the clarity and charm of his style, and I did my best to soak up what he was doing, but I'm kind of glad my poor attempts to emulate him are likely lost to the mists of time.

    I also had an Ecology Flag thermos in grade school in the 70's - I never knew I was carrying around Cobb's work at an early age until today!

    Thanks for continuing to amaze and inspire us, Ron!

  2. gorgeous work! thanks for sharing it!

  3. I loved Abyss (except for the last five minutes with that stupid purple ashtray) and I think Cobb's strong design sense really helped that. I don't know if it's true but I seem to recall that his helmet design so impressed some marine engineers that they wanted to actually make these things for real. I mean, yes, they did function properly, they had to, but these guys wanted to take them out into the real world because the lights and the mikes filled a real need.

  4. Ron Cobb has so many dimensions in both form and content his oeuvre easily eclipses that of H.R.Giger.

  5. Ron Cobb has so many dimensions in both form and content his oeuvre easily eclipses that of H.R.Giger.

  6. It's weird that the only film he ever directed was the Australian comedy flop "Garbo". Does he still split his time between Sydney and Los Angeles, or is he too old to do the long haul these days?

  7. I have a few of cobbs orignal drawings and would like to sell them. Woundering how I should go about priceing them and selling them

  8. Dear Ron,
    I am writing from The UK on behalf of The Movement for the Abolition of War
    We are producing a Collection of quotations and images on the general theme of War/Bad, Peace/Good!
    one of your cartoons Has the caption "There's a rumour going 'round that we won". We think it is brilliant! - and would love to include it in our Collection.
    We would be very grateful if this would be possible.
    The booklet will be entirely non-profit making!
    Hope to hear from you soon.
    Warm good wishes
    Heather Speight


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