Monday, January 28, 2013

Of Illustrators, Heros and Art Shows

Firstly, I must apologize for my overlong absence from blogdom. But work, work, work - much of which, in a somewhat ironic fashion, emanates from this blog. Insofar as my blogging activities have led me (at the behest of the Svengali - like Geoff West and his assemblage of Elven executives - aka the good people at the Book Palace) to commit my enthusiasms to the printed page.

This is a very circuitous way of saying that the blog has been in a state of inactivity, whilst yours truly races to meet publishing deadlines for illustrators issue 3 and Heros the Spartan. The former is now print ready and with the aid of my talented team, including my associate editor Bryn Havord, who has brought a lifetime's experience of working as an award winning Fleet Street art director and designer to the mix. Before Bryn acquiesced to come on board, I was only hazily aware of the devices and disciplines essential to ensure that readers absorb information in as pleasurable a manner as possible. I thought "widders and orphans" populated the streets of Dickensian London and Midge's dicks were impossible to detect without the aid of an electron microscope - not to mention the dynamics of the running turn - essential to maintaining readership momentum and not just something for the cinder track. Bryn has not only put me straight on these essentials but as art director and associate editor of Woman's Mirror in the 1960s he was also a prime mover and shaker when it came to commissioning many of the artists who were creating a real revival of illustration in the pages of UK and US magazines. Not only does he know a lot of these artists but he is a truly engaging writer, which was one of the things that really hooked me when I discovered some of his postings on Leif Peng's fabulous blog; Today's Inspiration.

Meanwhile as Steve Holland has already flagged up, issue 2 of illustrators is now out and is regarded by everyone that has got back to us, as even stronger than issue 1, not that we are in any way ashamed of issue 1, as in all these exercises, we are on a steep learning curve and there is always room for improvement, particularly in the early stages of a project such as this.

Heros, I am pleased to say, is now very close to completion, we are just finalizing some of the additional images to be included in the leather edition (second of the two cover images) and adding a few captions to the introductory section of the book - all other work is now complete - phew!!!

Lastly, but by no means leastly, Book Place Books are taking a stand at the Science Museum hosted Works on Paper Art Show, which is running from this Wednesday 31st January from 2.00 pm - 9.00 pm and then from Thursday 11.00 am - 9.00 pm and then Friday 11.00 am - 8.00 pm, Saturday 11.00 am - 6.00 pm and finally Sunday 11.00 am - 6.00 pm. Tickets for two can be obtained free by visiting the this link. This show is a real delight and is an essential visit for all collectors and enthusiasts of illustration and artwork for books, comic strips, newspaper strips and all aspects of illustration in it's widest sense.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Illustrators #2: In review

Issue two of Illustrators is a warm welcome at this chilly time of year. This latest foray into the world of art—from its understated cover through 96 pages of stunning colour by some of the most talented artists in the world—is a delight.

Front and centre is David Wright, an artist whose work has been severely under-exposed for years. You might be forgiven for thinking that Wright is a closely guarded secret, revealed only to a handful of artists who cite him as an influence. Thankfully, the appearance of Carol Day on the internet in 2008 led to a widening of the small circle that knew about his talent. The website that promoted Wrights' famous Daily Mail strip was run by Roger Clark, who describes his discovery and devotion to the strip in this issue. The man behind the pen is the focus of a long and informative lead feature by Illustrators' editor Peter Richardson, compiled with the aid of Patrick and Paul Wright—David Wright's sons and both talented artists themselves. A third son, Nicky, was an occasional telephone pal of mine who would call up to chat about horror comics.

Wright was a major British pin-up artist of immense talent, so it is marvelous to see some of his earlier work displayed as well as rare sketches and roughs. News that there is a book focusing on his pin-up art in preparation is very welcome.

C. L. Doughty should need no introduction... but sadly he does. David Ashford romps through Doughty's years as an artist of swashbuckling comic strip and touches on his many years as an illustrator for Look and Learn. As the compiler of Pages From History, I'm well aware of Doughty's immense talents as an illustrator. Hopefully his appearance here will help spread the word wider that Doughty deserves to be better known.

Raymond Sheppard may be a recognised name but I have to admit that I knew very little about his background, a problem now fixed thanks to Norman Boyd's excellent biographical essay. From winning awards at the age of seven to turning freelance at 21, Sheppard's rise to stardom was accelerated by his talent for drawing animals. A meticulous researcher and a superb draughtsman, Sheppard died far too young, only 45 when he died in 1958.

The fourth and final feature is a look at the work on Renato Fratini. Although Italian, a lot of his work appeared in the UK, perhaps most famously on the film poster for From Russia With Love. Fratini was able to move effortlessly between posters, magazine illustrations and book covers, from bodice-rippers for Fontana Books to posters for Carry On movies. Fratini also died young, aged only 40.

John Watkiss describes how he approaches a colour sketch for The Walking Dead and there is a brief gallery of art by Jordi Penalva, plus reviews and letters. Another fine issue ... and we now have issue three to look forward to, with Fortunino Matania, Andy Virgil and Peter Maddocks in the line-up.

Illustrators #2 is available from Book Palace Books.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

On Sale Now

Just a quick word to let you know that after a Christmas and New Years' cruise around the Med Illustrators issue 2 is now with us in the warehouse. Those of you who have a subscription or have already ordered this issue will receive it in the next few days.
Check these great articles:

A Brush with Fitzrovia

The Elegant Art of David Wright

My Affair with Carol Day
Lipstick in My Collar - Roger Clark Confesses All

Blades and Brocades
The Historical illustrations of Cecil Doughty

Under the Great Arch of Heaven
The Pure and Sparkling Art of Raymond Sheppard

Taking the Rough with the Smooth
The Revolutionary Paperback & Film Poster Art of Renato Fratini

The Studio
John Watkiss Gets Under the Skin of the Walking Dead

The Gallery
Jordi Penalva's Fleetway Super Library covers
You can order a copy here:
We think that there is a great mix of articles in this issue from newspaperstrip art, pin-ups / fashion and historical adventure to name but three. £15 cheap! (With apologies to Mad.)
Right back to sticking stamps and mailing envelopes.
See You Soon. Best Dave