Illustrators # 15 (magazine review).

August 24, 2016 | By | Reply More
All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd (c) The Book Palace

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) The Book Palace

Remember me writing that there was another month before the next issue of ‘Illustrators’ was due earlier in the month? I had a nice surprise when issue 15 came through the letterbox. For those buying, I should point out that these magazines come in protective plastic bags inside cardboard packing.

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd (c) The Book Palace

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) The Book Palace

By far the biggest section of this issue is devoted to artist Dave McKean (1963- ), who has extended from comicbook material to book covers to even directing films. Looking at the body of his work, you can surmise there is a very surreal look to his paintings and collages and he uses computers mostly for the later much of the time. As much of his work is fantasy in collaboration with Neil Gaiman, it probably explains why I haven’t seen much of it. Trying to pick out style mannerisms therefore seems a little odd because of the diversity leading me to think it’s more to do with subject matter.

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd (c) The Book Palace

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) The Book Palace

American artist Andy Thomas (1957- ) is more a self-taught painter who mostly uses oils because over his career has learnt that they sell better. I like his comment about digital painting in that he didn’t like the idea of having to learn a new set of commands for every upgrade. Saying that, having recently compared ‘Painter’ to ‘Manga Studio 5’ recently, there is more of a comparable choice of options, albeit more of them, these days. Mind you, have a 1000 page pdf file to wade through has to be intimidating.

Most of Thomas’ paintings here are from western scenes and you have to love the way he brings horses to life. He says in a brief interview that although he has photographs of horses, he has to resort to composites to get the bits he needs. Likewise, Thomas also relies on just drawing the people far more than that of photographs of himself or his wife posing that he uses from time to time. If that doesn’t support the argument that being formerly taught can limit what you apply commercially, I don’t know what does. Thomas does paint and pen other than westerns and I wish I’d seen more of them as a contrast but there’s a lot of lessons in his work for setting up motion and mood.

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd (c) The Book Palace

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) The Book Palace

Back in the 60s, when I first started discovering I could buy books in a second-hand shop, I bought a copy of Ian Fleming’s ‘Dr. No’ with a rather striking painted cover, shown here. Imagine my surprise in seeing it in ‘Illustrator’ and finally discovering its painter, Sam Peffer, also known as ‘Peff’ (1921-2014), at long last. Something, I hadn’t known was he’d done three other Bond covers at that time and was under exclusive contract to Pan at the time to stop over publishers using him, although that changed later. In those days, the cover artist was king and seeing his work here you can understand his popularity at the time, topped with his ability to paint actors like Chris Lee and Robert Mitchum, amongst others. If ever there was a surprise entry for me in this edition, this was it.

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd (c) The Book Palace

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) The Book Palace

Finally, we see the surreal paintings of digital artist Jonathan Ball with an interview about the problems of standing out in a world of digital painters these days. He also points out that working digitally makes it quicker to get things adjusted commercially but there is no longer the single original painting that can be sold later. It does raise an interesting question as when these artists get older, will they discover the older mediums and do a switchback? It keeps going back to the problem of not having a single original that would be exclusive to the person who could afford to buy it. With so many digital artists not even sketching on paper anymore, even a preliminary design isn’t likely to exist.

As always, ‘Illustrator’ brings a wonderful diversity of artists and seeing Neal Adams is up for the next issue, I suspect it will also be a sell-out so you might want to order early.

GF Willmetts

August 2016

(pub: The Book Palace. 98 page illustrated squarebound magazine. Price: £18.00 (UK), $21.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-907081-35-4. ISSN: 2052-6520)

check out website: www.thebookpalace.com

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Category: Illustration, Magazines

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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