Artist Profile: Hannes Bok (1914 — 1964)


The artist known as Hannes Bok was born Wayne Woodward in Kansas City, Missouri.  His early childhood was fraught with turmoil.  His younger sister died with he was only four years old.  His mother had a nervous breakdown and was committed to an asylum.  With the family in desperate need of money, Wayne’s older brother, Irving, was sent away to a “work house” where the 9 year-old Irving was taught to do housework.  Meanwhile, Wayne’s parents divorced and his father married a much younger woman.  By the time that Wayne started high school, he was estranged from both his father and his stepmother.

As soon as Wayne graduated high school, he left home and ended up in Seattle, where he lived with his brother, Irving.  Despite having no formal training, Wayne began to send illustrations to small sci-fi magazines.  He used the named Hannes Bok, as a tribute to composed Johannes Bach.

Hannes Bok sold his first illustration to Weird Tales in 1939 and he worked continuously for them until 1954.  During that time, Bok was responsible for some of the most imaginative covers of the pulp era.  However, Bok also grew obsessed with the astrology and the occult.  He became a recluse, one whose erratic behavior alienated many of his friends and colleagues.  Poverty-stricken, Bok died of a heart attack when he was only 49 years old.

His work speaks for itself: