The Art Of Brian Bolland (book review).

I came across this book, ‘The Art Of Brian Bolland’ and ‘Bolland Strips’, via The Book Palace’s ‘Illustrators Special’ late last year and bought both and, considering their age, still in mint condition. Presumably, those who want them, got them and the rest didn’t know about them. From the looks of things, I’m reading them in reverse release order although really this one should be read first as it outlines the comicbook artist’s life from his perspective. Throughout, there are lots of his work that you will either be familiar with or jaw-dropping for the first time.

Turning my critical eye on and how much he uses a brush to ink, I used to think Bolland just had a good eye for dimensionality and shapes. Seeing so much together, I would also add he makes good use of white space that makes his inking look so clean and this also reflects when he switched to paints. Mind you, any white-out he might have used to tidy his lines is missed from the original art samples shown here. I should also point out that if you own any of his original artwork what has not been signed by him, then you own stolen artwork as a lot of his originals have been stolen over the years and he would like them back.

As typical of we British, we are self-depreciating of ourselves and Bolland is the first to say he had an attention disorder and brought up in a farming environment with lack of creativity outlets and yet still achieved studying at several art colleges before getting into British comicbooks. Considering how much he made up for it later does illustrated we creative types needs all kinds of stimulation.

There’s plenty here to read for yourself but I should point out that if you don’t own the issue of ‘2000AD’ where a part of ‘The Cursed Earth’ story where was a parody of commercial icons and got a rapping over it and hence doesn’t get shown in reprints will see them here on page 75. I’m always surprised at that because parody is actually allowed and the companies who owned the icons were being too sensitive than seeing it as free advertising. It now has a notorious reputation which is undeserved.

It’s rather interesting charting photos of Bolland and his wife over the years and watching him slowly age. I suspect, he’s also been observing this for his own knowledge, especially as he has been his own model for several covers.

Brian Bolland mentions his travels a lot throughout this book and shows some of his photos rather conciliatory, although saying, some of these places have obviously inspired his work, as seen by his ‘Arzach’ cover. Saying that, it does reflect a certain amount of linearity with his artwork and I suspect Brian would be disappointed if I didn’t give at least one criticism in that he doesn’t rotate his angle viewpoint enough although that might be because of cover-work necessity and some of his work shows he can do it.

Whatever, if you like Brian Bolland’s art and like to see a lot of it collected together in one volume, then this is a good choice and it might even influence you to look at some of the series he drew covers for, so don’t be surprised if you see some of these popping up in review in the near future.

GF Willmetts

May 2020

(pub: Image, 2006. 312 page illustrated large hardback. Price: I pulled my copy for about £30.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-58240-603-9)

check out website:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.