If you haven’t seen the little green man above before then where have you been? This is the fifth cover appearance that I can remember it being used and I’m still counting. It was originally from the cover of ‘Martians, Go Home’ by Fredric Brown and illustrated by the great Frank Kelly Freas (you pronounce his surname as ‘Freeze’ in case you didn’t know). His artwork always had a sense of humour about it and he also designed the iconic Alfred E. Neuman for ‘Mad Magazine’.
The samples shown here cover a wide range. I would correct one thing. Although his artbooks are out of print, you can still pick them up on the secondary market. Even so, there are a couple pieces here I haven’t seen before. It’s a joy to look at Kelly Freas artwork but this entire edition of ‘Illustrators’ is a fabulous adventure of art.
If you want your jaw to drop, just look at the art of (Anne) Yvonne Gilbert. Her chosen medium is colouring pencils but you’d be hard pressed to tell some of the difference with some of them as she’s that good. She also did the cover of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood single ‘Relax’ so you’ve probably seen her work without being able to put a name to her.
If you’re of a particular age, then chances are you’ve seen her illustrated children’s books or even her more risqué art. Her insights into the industry are sharp and you can’t help agreeing with her that the artistically talented aren’t given as much credit as they deserve.
By far the biggest chunk of this edition goes to Belgium artist Laurent Durieux and his film posters. Originally a silkscreen painter, he moved over to digital painting and using its texturing tools to great effect. He also discovered by removing the black line work that he lost note of the pictures strengths and I chose a couple pictures here as examples. If you want to emulate this, it’s a simple matter to have your drawn or inked lines on a separate tier, which you probably do anyway, and make it invisible. His version of the Jimmy Stewart film ‘Rear Window’ is also exceptional and well thought out. Obviously, Durieux’ poster work is for the Belgium film market but it is great to see such work is still being used.
Finally, German artist Heinrich ‘Henry’ Kley (1863-1945) will have your jaw-dropping to the ground. I mean serious enough jaw-dropping to want to get his books. Soon as I looked at his art I saw the Disney influence, except it’s the other way around. Kley influenced Disney and the results were in ‘Fantasia’. His art is in pen and ink, sometimes with a touch of colour, was done with a political or comedy flair, although I doubt it we’d spot the metaphor today and he largely stopped because of not wanting to be politically censored. His anthromorphism of animals is a joy to behold and I’m surprised I haven’t come across him before.
I did a little digging around and the two volumes of Kley’s work can be found in a single volume published by Dover Fine Art called ‘The Drawings Of Heinrich Kley’, although it gets a bit more confusing with the pair of ‘Lost Art’ books and I’m checking out one of those because the page counts vary. That should tell you how impressed I am. The fact that he’s stayed in print tells its own story.
Finally, there’s a brief look at Frank Bellamy’s art for the 1960s’ ‘The Avengers’ episode ‘The Winged Avenger’. I didn’t realise that there were actually 20 pictures made and someone really needs to get the lot into print.
I’m frequently surprised by the various artists in ‘Illustrators’, more so as it introduces me to artists I haven’t come across before. This edition is the best yet so don’t miss it.
(pub: The Book Palace, 2019. 98 page illustrated squarebound magazine. Price: £18.00 (UK), $21.99 (US) via Bud Plant. ISBN: 978-1-907081-82-8. ISSN: 2052-6520)