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Hinge remained virtually unknown in New Zealand, despite success as an illustrator and graphic designer after moving to the United States 44 years ago. It included portraits with a distinct pop art influence for the cover of Time magazine - Japanese emperor Hirohito in October, 1971 and Richard Nixon, as the Watergate crisis deepened, in November 1973. The artwork for both covers are now held by the Smithsonian.
Hinge also contributed to designs for a cryogenic unit for a lobby display to promote in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was not used, and illustrated many covers and interiors for American science fiction magazines Amazing Science Fiction, Fantastic and Analog in the 1970s, as well as book covers.
As a professional artist, Hinge was nominated for a Hugo Award - science fiction's most prestigious trophy - in 1973. Hinge was also nominated six times for the Locus Awards by American science fiction news magazine Locus.
Hinge grew up in a state house in Mission Bay, Auckland. His English father was a bus driver and his South African mother, a former nurse. Hinge's twin obsessions were science fiction and everything American. As a child he would stay up to 3am drawing spaceships and futuristic vehicles and learned to play violin. As a teenager in the late 1940s, he took to wearing a cowboy hat, listening to the blues and Louis Armstrong and learning jazz trombone.
By the standards of the day, he was a maverick. To the consternation of audiences at Auckland cinemas, the Americanophile refused to stand when God Save The King played before each film. He hated the Union Jack in the New Zealand flag and suggested a koru design instead.
Hinge studied at Auckland's Elam School of Fine Arts in 1947 and 1948, then worked as a commercial artist at the Farmers Trading Company and advertising agencies. In his spare time he helped illustrate several New Zealand amateur science fiction publications.
Hinge remained fixated with the US. In 1952 he had applied for a green card to work there. In 1958 he was granted one and left in June. Until he arrived in Los Angeles the only place he had visited outside of Auckland was Waiheke Island. He enrolled at the Art Center School of Design. Commissions included record covers and supermarket interiors. In New York from 1966, Hinge worked in as an advertising agency as art director and designer. His designs for typefaces and graphics won him several awards and were exhibited, including a show at the Brooklyn Museum. A comic strip which he wrote as well as illustrated appeared in graphic magazine Heavy Metal.
A book about his art The Mike Hinge Experience was published in 1973 and he featured in the 1982 artists anthology The New Visions.
Hinge only returned home once. In 1984 his brother Noel, who had won NZ$333,000 in the New Zealand Golden Kiwi lottery, paid for the trip and bought him a house in Orewa. But Hinge found the pace too slow and advertising agencies would not hire him. He returned to New York the following year and resumed work as a freelance illustrator. More magazine covers included Amazing Stories in 1993, his last professionally published work.
Hinge was based in Philadelphia for the last 10 years of his life. He lived alone and in August 2003 his friends became concerned after they had not seen him for several days. Police broke into his apartment on August 13, and it was found that he had died of a heart attack about a week earlier, just short of his 72nd birthday. His ashes were later interred in Auckland.
- Obituary in the Dominion Post published December 11, 2003
Cardy, Tom (12/11/2003). "Obituary: Michael Barry Hinge, illustrator and graphic designer. B Auckland, August 9, 1931, d Philadelphia, August 2003.". ONYX Cube (archived). The Dominion Post. Retrieved 2 April 2014.