This is a teaser poster for the 1936 movie, The Dancing Pirate, the third Technicolor film to be made, but true to its advertising, the first dancing musical to surrender to glorious color. The cast is barely remembered, but for an uncredited specialty dancer, Rita Hayworth.
The design, color and rendering of this poster is remarkably like something Robert Peak, the great illustrator, would have created—but for the fact he was nine years old at the time of this film. Perhaps he saw it and lay dormant in his mind for many years . . .
This painting almost looks like a scene from How to Train Your Dragon, the animated film from DreamWorks (that I really enjoyed), but it's by Carl Barks (The Good Duck Artist, you know—Donald, the boys, Uncle Scrooge) from decades before the film was made.
Some people only know primarily of Bruce Jones' written work, but his artwork is quite nice, as witness by these covers — looking influenced, ever so slightly, by J. Allen St. John, Michael Wm Kaluta, and the other Jones person, Jeffrey.
Robert Crumb is a world treasure, a cartoonist/illustrator that has been so prolific in exploring the heights and depths of humankind with sometimes brutal and raw imagery. Here, tho, is an early bit of fantasy, circa 1960, a dream of an inn—the kind that opens all kinds of doors in my imagination. Oy, I want to stay here.
A number of years ago, I was pretty sure I had the inside track for the project of painting a large astronomical mural for our planetarium. At the last minute I was nudged out so that another artist who was 'more familiar' with the subject got the assignment. That was Michael Carroll, whose repute within the astro-art field I was unaware of at the time. I took the loss of the project in stride, as these things happen, but when I visited Michael in the middle of his work on-site and he good-naturedly asked if I would be interested in being hired to stretch canvases for his other work—well I felt like I'd fallen in the mud. Bless his heart, he did nothing wrong by asking.
My pride was stung for more than a little while. I'm well over that now, and can even blog about it. And Michael, if you happen to look in on this post, I've admired your work in the books and magazines, and I think this painting of yours, below, of deep water luminescent organisms is mighty fine. You of course were the better artist for the mural project, but I just know I coulda been a contenda.
There are many of us who only knew John Berkey's dominant paintings of gargantuan multi-layered spaceships carving their way through space with cosmic flame. It's a lovely change of pace to see his quiet and elegant interior paintings.
Another greatly fun sub or side genre of science fiction is the comic book adventurous lug cut in the mold of Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers, always rescuing a true love from Bird Men, Bat Men, Butterfly Men, Mole Men, Rock Men, TattleTale Men, Leave the Cap Off Toothpaste Men, and (shudderrr) Sales Men.
To be one of these guys, he's gotta have a jetpack, a ray gun, a cool helmet, and a code of conduct that would satisfy any girl's father. He also has to be bold enough to say stupid things and nobody minds cuz he's so darn rugged and cute and humble.
The girl has to of the beauteous persuasion, some form of royalty, past present or future, and capable of having the vapors, so as to sideline the guy in the darndest situations where he has to pick her up and carry like a sack of meat, without violating any of the conduct codes that her father has approved of in a private meeting — the father being a gentleman and only giving a tiny glimpse into the room where he keeps his weapons collection from 42 worlds of assassins guilds.
Murphy Anderson was a great inker of the silver Age of Comics, teaming perfectly with several topflight pencilers, but he was mighty good inking his own pencils as well, also having had a great stint with Buck Rogers hisself. And Anderson, well, he fulfilled most all those requirements outlined above in one swell drawing.
In all the dimensions of sci-fi, there's maybe nothing as much fun as the good old fashioned pulpy space opera of the '40s and '50s. The lurid colors of the ragged covers drawing you in to a universe where babes hit the space ways in their swimsuits and beach towel clasped around their neck (Douglas Adams had it right about not hitchhiking around the cosmos without your towel in hand). The smell of the pulp and the purple of the prose is enough to transport your molecules into the far reaches of the imagination.
Oh, the future was never as good as it was back then.
Robert Gibson Jones — Amazing Adventures — February 1950
A towel, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy says],
is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough."
—Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
You might wonder what wondrous storybook this Willy Pogany illustration is from...some exotic tale of intrigue?
Well, um, it's from a circa 1920 advertisement for soap.
"Buying Palmolive 3,000 Years Ago"
"The shop came to the shopper in the days of the first Palmolive. No convenient corner store, no fragrant green cake, but flagons of Palm and Olive oil brought from far countries for the toilets of aristocratic women. And while these ancient customs have vanished with the passing of 3,000 years, the world still prizes these two great natural cleansing agents."
Willy Pogany had a style that seemed to oscillate between each adventurous book that he illustrated —the same basic style, but on slightly different frequencies — always with classical composition and graphic impact. So many of his books were wonders to behold.
The book below has a number of pen & ink illustrations, but here are the color plates.
The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy — 1918
I am posting these images with a non-profit and educational 'fair use' motive, regarding respective copyrights. Anyone downloading and using these images for any commercial use would be in violation of respective copyrights, and does not have my approval for such use.
My name is Thom Buchanan.
I'm an artist and photographer.
People are my favorite subjects to portray in art and photos. My wife (and studio partner) has called that my 'people skills', as I've been passionately creating portrait studies for many years.
I refer to myself as a pictorialist, a combination of image-making and journalist. Images are my life.