Josh Kirby

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This article is about the English artist. For the movie series, see Josh Kirby... Time Warrior!.
Photo of Kirby in his house.

Ronald William "Josh" Kirby (27 November 1928 – 23 October 2001) was an English commercial artist born on the outskirts of Liverpool in Waterloo, Lancashire.


Josh Kirby was educated at the Liverpool City School of Art, where he acquired the nickname Josh, which comes from having his work compared to that of Sir Joshua Reynolds. The nickname stuck and Kirby was rarely called by his real name later. He died unexpectedly, of natural causes, in his sleep at home in Shelfanger near Diss in Norfolk at the age of 72. He was painting a new addition to his Magnum Opus, the Voyage of the Ayeguy portfolio before he died.


Full cover art of Equal Rites by Josh Kirby

Kirby painted film-posters, magazine and book covers. Creating a total of over 400 cover paintings, his personal preference was for science fiction jackets (for example see Robert Silverberg's Majipoor novels and Kirby's own Voyage of the Ayeguy) and his work on the covers of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of novels is well known. He also created the poster art for Monty Python's Life of Brian and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Charles de Lint said Kirby stood apart from most genre commercial artists for "his own flair and unique vision".[1] He worked almost exclusively in oils.

In 1991, Paper Tiger Books published a graphic album collecting some commercial and private works by Kirby, titled In the Garden of Unearthly Delights (a reference to Hieronymus Bosch's painting The Garden of Earthly Delights). This was followed in 1999 by another graphic album titled A Cosmic Cornucopia, which includes extensive text by David Langford and two chapters dedicated to his work for Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.



  1. ^ "Books to Look For", Fantasy & Science Fiction, January 2001
  2. ^ Terry Pratchett remarks on this cameo in the introduction to The Art of Discworld.

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