William Rotsler

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William "Bill" Rotsler
William Rotsler.jpg
Born (1926-07-03)July 3, 1926
Died October 8, 1997(1997-10-08) (aged 71)

William "Bill" Rotsler (July 3, 1926 - October 8, 1997) was an American cartoonist and graphic artist; author of several science fiction novels and short stories, television and movie novelizations, and non-fiction works concerning a variety of topics, ranging from Star Trek to pornography; a member of science fiction fandom; and a sculptor, primarily with metal, who contributed to the art at the entrance to the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. He was also a participant with the production of numerous pornographic movies.

Science fiction[edit]

Rotsler was known in science fiction fandom for his decades as a cartoonist and fan artist, winning five Hugo Awards in that category. He was willing to provide artwork for free to even the most obscure or struggling fan magazines. Rotsler also devised a sort of friendly "cartoon duel", in which he cooperated with various other cartoonists, as follows: Rotsler and another cartoonist would each draw some sort of cartoon figure (human, animal or monster) simultaneously, with neither artist knowing what the other was drawing. The two figures would then be placed side by side to form one picture. Rotsler and the other cartoonist would then equip each of the two cartoon figures with a comic-strip "speech" balloon: each cartoonist lettering the other artist's drawing.

Rotsler was known for his spontaneous cartooning, which he would do not only on paper, but on tablecloths, curtains, and anything near him.

Rotsler devised with the title of Harlan Ellison's short story "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream." This was adopted, with permission, from a caption of a Rotsler cartoon of a rag doll with no mouth.[1]

Rotsler's novelette "Patron Of The Arts" was nominated for both the 1972 Nebula award and the 1973 Hugo award.

Rotsler was Fan Guest of Honor at Torcon II (the 1973 Worldcon); winner of the 1977 Down Under Fan Fund; and during 1996 was voted Past President of the Fan Writers of America.

Rotsler Award[edit]

The annual Rotsler Award "for long-time wonder-working with graphic art in amateur publications of the science fiction community" was established during 1998. The Award is ordinarily announced at Loscon, the Los Angeles science fiction convention held during the U.S. Thanksgiving Day weekend (November). Past winners have included Steve Stiles, Brad Foster, and Alexis Gilliland.[2]

Writing and other arts[edit]

Rotsler's novels include Patron Of The Arts (1974), To the Land of the Electric Angel (1976), Zandra (1978), and The Far Frontier (1980). As a Star Trek tie-in book writer, Rotsler proposed a first name, Nyota, for communications officer Uhura, whose first name was never mentioned in the original series. Both series creator Gene Roddenberry and actress Nichelle Nichols agreed to the adoption of this name, which means "star" in Swahili. This as Uhura's first name is also featured in the 2009 Star Trek movie.

For ten years, he was the cameraman for Bill Warren as they traveled about Los Angeles filming segments for the French TV series, Destination séries. Rotsler, like Warren, also appeared on camera in this series. He was a participant with the production of numerous "adults only" features produced by Harry Novak. His credits, sometimes using the pseudonym "Shannon Carse" include direction, camera and electrical department, writer, actor, editor, producer, and cinematographer for numerous Novak productions. Most notably, he directed the cult movies Mantis in Lace (1968) and Agony of Love. Much of Rotsler's movie work remains available from the cult-specialist video company Something Weird.[3]

Rotsler was also a sculptor (he located the fossils, crystals and stones for the Nebula Award trophies), and contributed to the 1994 computer game Inherit the Earth: Quest for the Orb.

Rotsler's Rules[edit]

Rotsler was known at science fiction conventions for "Rotsler's Rules of Order" and "Rotsler's Rules of Costuming", which contained, among others, these rules:

  • If you kill it, you eat it. (a weapons policy)
  • Don't go to bed with anyone crazier than yourself. [Borrowed from Nelson Algren]
  • The shoes gotta match.
  • That spandex is a Privilege & not a Right. If you stand naked in front of a Mirror & you're not happy with what you see, others will not be happy with you parading around in Spandex or a Chain Mail Bikini.
  • No peanut butter. (a costuming rule)

Personal life[edit]

Rotsler died in his sleep of complications from the radiation therapy treatment he had been receiving for cancer.[citation needed]

Further reading[edit]



Archival Resources[edit]


  1. ^ Harlan Ellison, Part Two | The A.V. Club
  2. ^ About the Rotsler Award, includes list of winners
  3. ^ http://www.somethingweird.com/cart.php?target=search&substring=rotsler&x=25&y=5

External links[edit]