AKA Wayne Woodard
Born July 2, 1914 in Kansas City, Missouri. His parents divorced when he was five and he lived with his Dad and step-mother until he graduated high school. They were very strict and discouraged his artistic leanings. After graduation he severed connections with his father and moved to Seattle to live with his mother. It was there that he began his career, first as a fan then as an illustrator of science fiction and fantasy.
Hannes Bok was a multifaceted innovator, being a science fiction author, a designer, wood carver, modeler of masks in papier mache, and a poet, as well as a graphic artist. He moved to Los Angeles in 1938 where he encountered Ray Bradbury. He also met fellow artist Maxfield Parrish, who had a profound effect on Bok's own style. He sold his first cover to Weird Tales for their December 1939 issue. That commission came about as a result of his friend Ray Bradbury taking Bok's art along with him to the first World Science Fiction Convention. Bradbury himself at that time had no track record or connections in either fantasy art or publishing. He attended the convention by means of funds borrowed from SF fan Forrest Ackerman. Bradbury had little more than faith and chutzpah, and he succeeded. Bok's pen and ink work appeared in over 50 issues of Weird Tales from December 1939 until March 1954. Bok also did 6 color covers for Weird Tales from March 1940 through March 1942. He also had some of his short stories published in the magazine, making him the only artist for the magazine who was also an author. After entering the ranks of acknowledged professionals, Bok moved to New York City, where he was to live the remainder of his life.
He also did cover art for such magazines as If, Other Worlds, Fantasy Fiction, imagination, Planet Stories, Castle of Frankenstein, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. His racy, twisted sexuality lost him commissions and friends in his era, while by today's standards his work would be considered quite tame. He wrote 2 complete novels, the first being The Sorcerer's Ship (1942) and the second Blue Flamingo/Beyond the Golden Stair (1948). Bok did an extensive rewrite and expansion of that work and it was published posthumously as Beyond the Golden Stair (1970). Hannes Bok produced a steady stream of short tales throughout his career, and he expanded the work of contemporary author A. E. Merritt. Merritt had left two novellas uncomplete upon his death in 1843. Bok finished them and they found publication as The Blue Pagoda (1946) and as The Black Wheel (1947).
Hannes Bok was an adherent of astrology, penning at least 13 articles for Mystic Magazine His interests also included the music of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, with whom Bok had enjoyed correspondence.
It is thought that the professional name Hannes Bok was taken from Johann S. Bach. He also worked with fellow artist Boris Dolgov under the name Dolbokgov.
As Hannes Bok grew older he had stronger conflicts with editors about artistic issues and money. He started to withdraw and become more engrossed in his interest in the occult. Hannes Bok won the Hugo Award for Best Cover Artist (1953). Bok was also a member of the Futurians.
Hannes Bok died on April 11, 1964 of an apparant heart attack in Manhattan, New York City.
The works of Hannes Bok live on largely due to the efforts of lifelong friend and fellow science fiction author Emil Petaja. Petaja had collected Bok's artwork for years. Three years after Bok's death, Petaja founded the Bokanalia Foundation as a means of keeping Bok's work in the public awareness. Petaja subsequently published several books of Bok's artwork, a book of his poems, and penned a commemorative novel.