The Fantastic 2, Bob Haberfield Books

The Bob Haberfield books were an idea that came about when, after my father’s death, I became the custodian of his entire collection of artworks, somewhere in the region of 2,000 paintings, drawings and sketches. It’s way more than I can put on my walls. So I spent quite a lot of time scratching my head trying to think what I’m going to do with my father’s life’s work.

One of the last projects my father worked on before he died was putting together a catalogue of his work; it was quite a basic catalogue consisting of almost 700 images that he had either scanned or photographed and numbered in a photo library along with a notebook that recorded the title, date, size and where the image could be found, i.e. what sketchbook or folio it was in.

My dad was an extremely diverse artist with many different styles. He was an illustrator by profession, but this was just how he made money, and it’s only half the story of his artistic output. He was never interested in showing his art for various reasons. He didn’t want to sell himself – he made a comfortable living from his illustration so there was no need to conform to what he thought would sell, and also because his artistic ego did not need to be validated.

So it was interesting to me that he had spent a considerably long and frustrating time putting together this catalogue so that he could pass it on to me. As a Buddhist my father knew only too well the impermanence of life. But a part of him wanted to preserve his life’s work, and why not? As do I; I’ve filled my walls with all my personal favourites, the rest are sitting in folios and drawers of a plan chest, and some haven’t seen the light of day for up to 50 years. Something I felt was now my responsibility to change.

So I started on this journey, a voyage of discovery into my father and his work. One of the first things that I wanted to do was turn his catalogue into a book, but I had no idea where to start or who to approach. Bob was well known for his Moorcock book covers he did 50 years ago, so I sent out a bunch of emails to people that were connected to the science fiction world.

I was extremely lucky to get a response from John Guy Collick, who was and continues to be immensely helpful. He put me in touch with John Davey From Jayde Design, who is Moorcock’s editor and the publisher of James Cawthorn: The Man and His Art. Although he was very busy at the time and unsure he would be willing to take on this project after a first Zoom meeting between the three of us his own enthusiasm won him over and he agreed.

The first step for the Bob Haberfield books was to figure out what we had to work with. At that point I thought there were only the 700 images Bob had catalogued. But on closer inspection I learnt that he’d only in fact catalogued his favourite images and that, as mentioned above, there are about 2,000 artworks.

I also learnt that Bob was quite the poet when I found a bunch of folders filled with poems he had written and illustrated. Then there were all the birthday and Christmas cards he had sent over the years, plus his photography. So now we were faced with the dilemma of what to include in the book.

We spent a long time debating the different possible directions the book could go in. We decided that one book should become two books. Then there were three and at one point we where even contemplating four books. Thankfully sanity prevailed and we returned to two books presented together in a slipcase. So the first book follows my father’s catalogue which is his selection of his favourite paintings and drawing; the other book follows his commercial work, his science fiction book covers, record covers and illustration work.

The Bob Haberfield books will also give a great account of Bob’s life. We have a fantastic memoir of Bob’s life written by Garry Kennan, a lifelong friend of my father, that inspired me to write my own memories of Bob. So each book will have one of the memoirs of Bob along with pieces about his works written by Michael Moorcock, John Collick, John Davey and others.

So we have lots of fantastic material for the Bob Haberfield books, John Davey has started the pagination for the first book and I’m thrilled to say it’s looking fantastic; I’m really excited.

My dad would be extremely proud.

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