Great Masters Of Fantasy Art (book review).

A little exercise with many non-fiction books is if they reference another period book is to see if a copy is out there, especially with older books. ‘Great Masters Of Fantasy Art ‘ coming from 1986 is over 35 years old and you’ll be lucky if you come across a second hand copy. The telling points are over-sized copies of the paintings, even if the double-page spreads have middle crease problems. Mind you, you do have to wonder whether it was the writer or typographer having problems with the double ditto mark throughout.

There are 16 artists covered, with variable number of pages, giving some of their history and a selection of art, not to mention the occasional blank page. For the record we have Frank Frazetta, Frank Kelly Freas, Greg Hildebrandt, Carl Lundgren, Oliviero Berni, Boris Vallejo, Richard Corben, Vincente Segrelles, Barclay Shaw, Rowena Morrill, Rodney Matthews, Paul Lehr, Richard Hescox, Tim White, Michael Whelan and Don Maitz.

The usual suspects and a few surprises. Interestingly, all have photos of the artists, something that isn’t always done with current books. Treating these books as a sampler, you’ll no doubt look for artists you haven’t come across before and see if they have had books solely of their own work.

The art is full page with no margins and you have to wonder why no one has done this since. Granted, other publishers might have seen this as copying, it’s a shame none of them have tried the practice since as far as I know.

With the biographies giving their ages, its rather scary to think practically all are of pensionable age now if alive, so you’re seeing their work early in their careers and looking up any now is seeing what they’ve done since.

There might only be a small selection here but don’t assume that all the pictures here have been shown elsewhere and you might find some you’ve missed.

GF Willmetts

August 2021

(pub: Taco, 1986. 95 page illustrated large softcover. Price: I pulled my copy for about £3.50 (UK). Price: ISBN: 3-89268-008-6)


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 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.

2 thoughts on “Great Masters Of Fantasy Art (book review).

  • “The art is full page with no margins and you have to wonder why no one has done this since.”

    Probably because it’s more complicated and expensive on a printing technical level to do full bleeds.

    Books like this will be produced by sheet fed offset, with multiple pages on a sheet. Printed sheets will be folded and trimmed, ready for binding. Full bleeds complicate trimming because trims will not be cut on white space surrounding art. Get the trim wrong and you trim art and maybe ruin the entire sheet.. Alignment when folding and trimming pages is critical.


    • Hello Dennis
      Considering home printers can do full sheets and the printing process is more sophisticated today sort of disproves this.
      I did have a think and there are some artbooks with art to the margins back then but this book is larger than those and still did it. In fact, the ‘science Fiction Monthly’ magazine from the mid-1970s or a similar size did so as well. I was just stating it was quite rare these days.
      It might be to stop people slicing up their books and seeing the posters which did actually happen.


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