Mark Harrison’s Dreamlands written by Lisa Tuttle (artbook review).

May 29, 2022 | By | Reply More

OK, let’s play a geek game. Choose a defunct publisher. In this case Paper Tiger and google it and see which books you are missing from your artbook collection. I’m presuming you know what you have in your collection or at least have a database of same to consult. I’m not going to do all the work for you but there is a database of Paper Tiger books on-line.

At that point, you then check to see if any missed books are still available and at an affordable price. If you pay over the odds, chances are dealers will think that is the going rate and end up putting the books outside of the standard purchaser and it can take years for the price to drop. You aren’t just compromising fellow geek artbook fans but yourself in the long term when you looking for other missed artbooks. If you’re seeing expensive artbooks, then you’re seeing the results of that problem.

If the prices are too high, note the book and check up on them periodically until you find a copy you can afford. A good game for the observer obsessed geek.

OK, that’s how I found ‘Mark Harrison’s Dreamlands’. SF author Lisa Tuttle does the text and looks like it was taken from interviewing him. Googling ‘Mark Harrison’ and there are several out there in the creative industry. Not the comicbook artist but the cover artist. Harrison was born in 1951 and still painting.

Harrison admits his early cover work wasn’t very good and got two bad awards in the same year and dropped out for a time and became a clerk but bored went back into art again. Back when he started, Harrison comes over as a bit naïve, evolving into gouache and then, through another commercial artist, finally discovered acrylics, liking the speed it dries and able to get work done at the right speed, important for deadlines. This is the world long before the Internet and few books on art techniques, let along on commercial art out there.

Looking at the artbook as a collective from the 1980s period where he was in most demand, there is an emphasis on colourful covers with less emphasis on dark colours although he shows he is capable of doing so. There also has to be dead areas for cover titles so much of the active areas has to at the bottom area than the top. Looking over his early work, it becomes obvious that Harrison applied what he thinks the cover editors needed and lucked into the market. It wasn’t until 1982, that he sold his first fantasy cover to Dragon’s World for the ‘Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant’. Looking at it on page 82, I can see his Maxfield Parish influence but more in some colour choices.

Harrison admits his strengths are in landscape than figures, which tend to be dwarfed in his covers. A few close-ups are good but there are some mid-size that are a tad more wooden when he doesn’t rely on models posing for him.

His choice of colours present are good although I confess few of the pictures are outstanding. It would have been interesting to have seen some of his non-commissioned work for comparison but commercial artists don’t usually have much time for them.

I’m not sure if I would call this a favoured book, mostly because I was reading this with my artist’s eye on. Harrison provided what the publisher art directors wanted and moved onto the next cover. I did find his website, see below, and the examples there really do focus on his ability to do landscape more than people. His accent is on shape and colour so there are some interesting lessons for those who find landscapes challenging to paint.

GF Willmetts

May 2022

(pub: Paper Tiger, 1990. 128 page large softcover. Price: ooh, about £10.00 (UK). ISBN: 1-85028-132-7)

check out website:


Category: Books, Illustration

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About UncleGeoff

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.

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