Frank Kelly Freas (1922-2005) published his first SF magazine cover, for Weird Tales, in 1950, but shortly thereafter became strongly associated with John Campbell’s Astounding Science Fiction, where he swiftly became the definitive ASF black-and-white and cover illustrator of the post-War period.
It was not so much a group of writers who sustained ASF’s identity in the 1950s; it was Kelly. Many major new illustrators were appearing, in ASF and elsewhere, with now fondly remembered work. But Kelly, at his board through long nights, working seven days a week, ably assisted and upheld by his marvelous wife, Polly, did almost as much work as all his peers combined. He holds more Hugo awards for Best Artist of the Year than anyone, and at mid-century, the awards came year after year after year. His work established and held the “look” of Astounding for a decade, and frequently lent valid extra dimensions to the stories.
After a sabbatical to do fine-art painting in Mexico, Kelly returned to SF and swiftly broadened into book and record-album covers as well as magazine illustration, including dozens of depictions of Alfred E. Newman on Mad magazine covers.