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Saturday, September 03, 2016

Illustrators #15

The latest issue of Illustrators (Summer 2016) has articles on two artists I've met... well, one of them I interviewed over the phone, but it still counts. Dave McKean arrived on the comics' scene like a thunderstorm, his painted artwork for Black Orchid and Arkham Asylum beautiful and darkly menacing at the same time; his covers for Sandman then blew away an audience that wasn't the core comics' fan, a base he continues to attract with his ongoing collaborations with Neil Gaiman.

And then there are his childrens' books illustrations, which are eclectic, multimedia art projects (such as the recent Black Dog project which is to be performed at the Tate in November) and even movies. McKean hasn't stood still since the early days of art fanzine Meanwhile and his first graphic novel,  Violent Cases.

Diego Cordoba's article on McKean dips into all these areas in a lengthy and gorgeously illustrated overview of his career. Many of the illustrations are new to me  as they include murals painted for some of Heston Blumenthal's restaurants, posters, CD and book covers and as yet unseen new material.

Sam Peffer I knew better, having met and chatted with him at many book fairs; I ran some of his autobiographical writings in my paperbacks fanzine PBO almost exactly twenty years ago. Sam died in 2014, aged 92, so it's nice to see a tribute to his work appearing here. Gary Lovisi draws extensively from Sam's unpublished autobiography for information and from his years painting paperback covers for Pan for most of his illustrations.

The most interesting aspect of the article is where Sam's reference photos are run against the finished pieces, which often featured his wife, Kitty.

The third big feature this issue concerns artist Andy Thomas, whose action paintings of the Wild West owe much to Frederic Remington and C. M. Russell. The artist, born and raised in Missouri, where he still resides, is inspired by the old Wild West and Civil War era which he has been depicting for twenty-five years or so, at first selling his paintings through art fairs and later finding wider commercial success.

Wrapping up the issue is a look at the whimsical fantasy paintings of Jonathan Ball, who is interviewed about his use of computers and 3D software.

For more information on Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website, where you can also find details of their online editions, and news of upcoming issues. Issue 16 will feature Neil Adams, Paul Slater, Cecil Glossop and Will Davies.

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