Illustration Contest! $500 in Prizes!

A classic Gernsback contest, from Science Wonder Quarterly, Fall 1929

Hugo Gernsback was a master promoter. He often used contests to engage his reader and drive subscriptions to his publications. Early fans eagerly submitted their credentials and stories in the hopes of recognition by the “pros” — or at least gaining esteem in the eyes of other fans.

First Fandom Experience is so-named because we hope to capture — or even recreate — the sense of what it was like to participate in the inception and early growth of organized fandom. To this end, we’re pleased to announce our second contest. The first was the 2020 Cosmos Prize, a writing prize awarded last year. For 2021, the Cosmos Prize will focus on illustration.

Announcing: The 2021 Cosmos Prize

Cosmos was an ambitious serial novel orchestrated by the staff of Science Fiction Digest (later Fantasy Magazine) beginning in June, 1933. The story of Cosmos spanned 17 chapters written by 16 different authors. You can read the entirety of the novel and explore the full history of the event at The Cosmos Project web site.

Cosmos turned out to be more of an interesting stunt than a major contribution to science fiction literature. But the young editors were undeterred, and in 1935 set forth on a new collaborative adventure.

Fantasy Magazine, v5n3, August 1935

The Challenge From Beyond introduced a twist: two separate stories based on the same title, one themed as science fiction, the other as fantasy. A new cadre of professional authors took up the pen, and the twin stories were published together in the September 1935 issue of Fantasy Magazine. Click here see the stories as they originally appeared.

First Fandom Experience will award prizes, both cash and merchandise, to selected artists who submit original illustrations for both versions of The Challenge From Beyond.

(Announcement from Fantasy Magazine, v5n3, August 1935)


  1. One Grand Prize consisting of $300us in cash, as well as copies of FFE’s publications: The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom, Volume One: The 1930s; The Earliest Bradbury; Roy V. Hunt: A Retrospective; and a full facsimile edition of Cosmos.
  2. One Second Prize consisting of $100us in cash, as well as copies of two FFE’s publication: The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom: Volume One: The 1930s and a full facsimile edition of Cosmos .
  3. Two Third Prizes, each consisting of $50us in cash, as well as copies of two FFE publications: The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom: Volume One: The 1930s and a full facsimile edition of Cosmos.

All prize winners will also receive an FFE lapel pin. Prize-winning submissions will be published on the FFE website and may also be included in future print and digital publications.

Contest Rules

  1. Submissions must be received by 12 midnight GMT on August 31, 2021.
  2. Submissions should be sent electronically to  PDF, JPG or TIFF format only, please, with scans or renderings at 300-dpi or higher. Include your name and email address at a minimum.
  3. Prizes will be determined solely by the FFE team.
  4. If your entry is awarded a prize, you agree to grant FFE the right to use your submission henceforth, in both print and digital form, in whole or in part, for the purpose of promoting FFE and its works.  You retain copyright to your submission and may use it in any other way you choose. FFE claims no rights to submissions that are not awarded.
  5. Successful submissions will:
    • include at least one illustration for each of the two versions of The Challenge From Beyond (science fiction and fantasy)
    • fit with the overall narrative of The Challenge From Beyond
    • portray one or more scenes, characters or concepts from each story in compelling, meaningful, exciting and/or evocative ways; submissions will be judged on how the illustrations enhance the text, not on quantity
    • capture the style and sensibility of science fiction of the 1930s
    • show originality, coherence and strong expressive force
  6. Prizes will be announced on September 10, 2021 at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, and on this page. Winners will also be contacted by email.

Please contact us at with any questions.