Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

Crazy Idea

This is a beautiful book I just saw up for bid over at Heritage Auctions, published in 1940. I'm sure it's entirely wishful thinking on my part, but I have this crazy idea that the cover could maybe have been illustrated by . . . wait for it . . . Walt Kelly.

It's just the kind of parade of characters he would do; he worked on Fantasia, the film, especially that roly-poly god of the grape there in the middle; the cherubs and fauns are somewhat of his style—and what isn't in his style (such as the Fred Moore centaurette) may just have been his emulating the rest of the film's characters; and Kelly has made mention that he was an illustrator-for-hire before doing comic books. It was published by Simon and Shuster, Kelly's publisher for all his "three foot shelf of books".

Aaa, if you know differently, please let me know. It's really a nice cover, isn't it?


Speaking of fauns and lyrebirds, a Fantasia concept drawing:

Fantasia Long Shot

A Fantasia concept long shot for panning, from grotto to far meadows and beyond. All these lovely ladies are "centaurettes". The lyre birds are lovely too.

If I can't live in this mythological world, I can certainly see it in my imagination.


Fantasia concept drawing of water nixies, looking very reminiscent of a Waterhouse painting.

A Place Spirit

Fantasia Fauns and Nixies

Fauns are place spirits of untamed woodland and Nixies are the feminine spirits of fresh waters in sacred springs and rivers.

Mystery and Decadence

Fantasia's pastoral conceptual artists developed a sense of mythological mystery and beauty and decadence that was scrubbed clean in production. I understand somewhat, because of the times and the intended audience, that caution had to be exercised. But still, to think of what might have been created in some alternate universe where maturity of theme is tolerated and appreciated by the masses.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mythology to Muse Upon

This is one of my favorite concept production sketches of all time. This is mythology to muse upon. This is the world I want to be in. This is Fantasia as it could have been.

Spirit of the Mountain Waterfall

Let's Dive Right In

I'm just gonna dive right in (so to speak), with no particular order, to pull up some of the pre-production art for various segments of Disney's Fantasia that I find amazing and inspirational.

The Pastoral Symphony sequence, based on Beethoven's masterpiece, was/is my favorite. With its mythological subjects and locale, its a time and a land I would like to visit—but even more so if the film had been more loyal to the prep drawings such as the one above.


When I was a young collector of images (yes, before Tumblr, before the internet, even before computers [can you imagine such a time]), I would come across various stills from Disney's 1940 Fantasia and I would be mesmerized, haunted by the desire to see this film. Remember too, this was before DVDs or even videos, I mean this was the stone age.

Then it was re-released in '69, and when I first saw it in the big theater by myself, I was electrified by the uniqueness of its concepts. I enjoyed it so much I went back half a dozen more times, each time taking a different date, gauging how much I liked the girl by how much she liked the film. The last segment, the Ave Maria scene, always put me to sleep. But so much of the rest was watchable again and again.

Now, years later, I have the DVD and have watched it a couple of times and have seen the flaws and it's all grown a bit stale. But now we all have access to so much of the pre-production material, and how exciting that stuff is. If only the film had followed the concept artists' visions more closely, it would have been an immortal masterpiece, instead of a dated so-so masterpiece.

But STILL. What an accomplishment for that day and age.

The Pastoral Symphony sequence caught my fancy over all the others, and the pre-production art is fascinating. Over the next number of posts I'm going to show some of those, one at a time, as they have been a source of inspiration for me, and may be for some of you who have not yet seen them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fairy Tale-ish

More of Warwick Goble's fairy-tale-ish illustrations for the 1912 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer.

Griselda Robed in Cloth of Gold

January Helping May into the Tree

Canacee and the Falcon

Dorigen Pledging Aurelius

The Angel Presenting the Crowns to Cecily and Valerian

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Favorite Bust

In France, for two centuries now, the revolution of 1789 and its goals of liberty, equality and fraternity have been summed up in one woman's name: Marianne, the mythical heroine who carried the flag at the storming of the Bastille.

But a 20th/21st century woman of France also embodies ideals of the nation: BB: Brigitte Bardot.

Put the two together and voilà! A nation's favorite bust!

Golden Age Faerie

A simple, but lovely faerie, from the golden age of illustration.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Now That We Can Tell Time...

Where it all started, and what I'm under right now.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chill Winter Eve

A 1910 painting by Guy Rose, entitled Nude Figure by Firelight. The color palette, the textural palette — both very warming on a chill winter eve.

Visual Poetry

A beautiful piece of visual poetry by Lena Liu, entitled Fireside Solitude. The color palette, the textural palette — both very soothing on a winter morn.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Parcel of Tearsheets

Just one more parcel of Stephen Fabian tearsheets in celebration of my finding em amidst so many files.

I know Fabian started out emulating the early pulp artists, but personally I like his work better than most of the work of Finlay and the others.

Flash and Dale or John and Dejah?

From Cugel's Saga by Jack Vance — 1983

I don't know the title, but it sure looks like a Death Rider

The Wallad Blonde

Sight of Proteus

Friday, January 22, 2010

Alien Flesh

Fabian's work was sensual for more than the obvious reasons.

Alien Flesh

The Man Who Came Back
(and boy, that man looks like Werner von Braun)

No record of which Fantasy Newsletter this was from

From Fantasy Newletter #28

The Black Flame

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lost, then Found

Last July, I posted some Stephen Fabian artwork, and realized then that I had lost or misplaced some tearsheets of his work. Well I found some that had been misfiled. Below are a few and I'll post a few more, maybe next post.

I had a bad habit (and to some degree, I still do) of clipping images from books and magazines for the morgue, but not always labeling the source or any kind of caption. So please pardon that I have incomplete info for these terrific Fabian works.

I don't know the name of this story at all.

The Reign of Istar_1992

In a Pig's Eye

Song of the Spaceway

Stars in Shroud

And hey, Mr. Door Tree has some obscure Fabian over at Golden Age Comic Book Stories.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shadow of the Batman

Another promotional mini-poster, from 1985, whetting our appetite for the 5 issue reprint series of Marshall Rogers' art for Shadow of the Batman. There's no 'find the difference' game for this one.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sizzling Art

Mike Deodato is an excellent contemporary panel artist who revitalized a couple of female characters back in the 90s, Wonder Woman and Elektra. Below is a cool Marvel mini-poster of Elektra that I scored at a convention. But I compared it to the original art, and besides dropping Deodato's signature, it looks like the head has been modified slightly larger (seemingly more proportional). Wonder if that's something the artist did, or Marvel's promotional department. Anyway, a *sizzling* piece of art, from my point of view.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

La Jeune Fille

As a young man, I saw this print of a jeune fille by Rolf Armstrong, and it singlehandedly inspired me to become a portrait artist. I was most intrigued by the balance of tight rendering and loose strokes, as well as the boldness of color and gaze.

Further intrigue results from the similarity to the magazine cover that was part of my first serious image collection as a boy. Yet, you can see the decided differences and why one might inspire me more than the other.


A lovely little print by Stephen Fabian, entitled Bellerophon.

The original painting is in full color, the print is monotone.

The comment this picture received from oeconomist nicely described its quality, so I quote here with appreciation:

"So much of the time, as here, Fabian's work looks to me perfectly graceful. Whatever struggle may have gone into its production, nothing that remains seems in any way awkward. The horse and the woman convey an impression of proper occupation of space; the horse flies but, given that, its body and that of its rider distribute their mass plausibly in response to the pull of gravity. The buildings are abstracted enough not to draw undue attention, but tell the viewer of a whole city."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Worthy of Completists

Before the holidays I began a series of posting Warwick Goble illustrations from a beautiful 1912 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Here are five more of the illustrations, not the best of the book, but worthy of completists, as I'm showing them in the order they appear as you would read the works.

The best are yet to come.

Virginius and Virginia

The Three Revelers and the Gold

The Knight and the Old Woman

The Knight and the Old Woman at Court

Griselda and the Duke


This is a nifty little piece signed by Wally Wood, but actually in collaboration with Al Williamson. It's been sitting around in my morgue for years, not quite sure where I should file it.