Sunday, February 28, 2010

Artist-in-Residence of Space

I was going to continue on with posting Moebius work, but I just learned of the passing of Robert McCall, who Isaac Asimov referred to as "the nearest thing to an artist-in-residence of space." McCall died at his home in Arizona, that I once visited on a pilgrimage of inspiration.

In just now looking through the inventory of McCall's work, I noticed a resemblance in some ways to the work of Moebius. Not that either one borrowed from the other, but both of their technical draughtsmanship had similar sensibilities, resisting being too technical and pushing their imaginations beyond the obvious solutions. They both worked as visualizers for movies, designing the future as they went.

McCall is/was one of the higher pedestals in my hero hall of fame, as I'm sure he was to many people. I admire people who maintain a balance of humanities and sciences, not to mention having the spirit of exploration and adventure. As Michael Collins, of the Apollo 11 crew, said, "Robert McCall captures the essence of life in space, rather than just space itself."

I visited with McCall twice, once in 1982 at the Boulder Center for the Visual Arts, and at his home/studio in Paradise Valley. Each time he graciously talked shop with me, sharing his vision and technique, and allowing me to inspect the minute details of his work. My avid interest in space was fused with my avid interest in his work and he remains an inspiration to this day.

I'm going to post more of his work over the next couple of days as my little tribute.

As he looked when I visited with him in his studio, even wearing the cover-all suit.

The sunburst in space was iconic to his later work.

He was an illustrator for the magazines, as well, such as this piece for a Boy's Life story of time travel.

He envisioned the 'near' future, such as a Mars colony . . .

As well as the 'far' future, where man's presence in space is assured.

Meanwhile, Not Too Far Away

Imagine that . . . a few lines of ink can transport your mind to another place and time. I AM on this island.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ruler of the Entire City


Fabulous interior perspective — an entirely believable secret citadel.

Les Voilà

Moebius (Jean Giraud) was a source of inspiration to me in the 70s and 80s, compelling me to work with a simpler line in my ink work, which is the opposite of one of my other lifelong inspirations, Walt Kelly—he with the lush thick brushstrokes. I was never obsessed with collecting Mobius, I guess because I didn't love all of his work. But the pieces that I did love have never left my collection yet.

One thing I really love about Moebius panel art is that most of his panels can be isolated from the story, enlarged, and be immensely appreciated on their own merits. The panel below could be a framed print on my wall and be most satisfactory to my sensibilities.

The complex simplicity, the perfect perspective, the sense of depth (that this plane is really in the air), even the sense of mystery (what's unfolding here? What is this place?).

I think I'll post some more of his panel art.


Event Horizon

The incredible airbrush styling of the late Peter Lloyd.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Prep Drawing

I love preparatory drawings as studies for paintings. I love seeing them. I love making them. I once was commissioned for a set of murals where I made over two hundred prep drawings of the figures.

The figure above is a beautiful prep drawing by Gilbert White for his fresco at the Agriculture Building in Washington DC in the 1920s.

Two Profiles

Two profiles, so different, yet I feel compelled to group them.

Moebius — early 1980s

Lucien Victor Guirand _ Head of Lady in Medieval Costume — 1900

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Little Bits of the Graver's Art

You know it was the golden age of illustration when even bookplates had a magical essence.

This is what was said about the subject in a 1902 book:

The book-plate designers of today are legion because they are many. Almost every one who can draw, and many who cannot, have ventured into the field of book-plate designing; and the result has been that many of the book-plates that are current have little to commend them to critical observers. The present increasing interest in these little bits of the graver's art has greatly encouraged the production of them, and new ones arise daily. It is desirable, therefore, if we are to have book-plates at all, that they shall be as artistic as may be; and it is important, from an art standpoint, to all those who are about to adopt the use of these marks of ownership that they shall have, as they may have, the artistic flavor about them.

Designer: Alexandre de Riquer

Designer: DH Smith

Designer: Henry Ospovat

Designer: Henry Ospovat

Designer: Jessie King

Flora and Zephyr

Time for another of the beautiful Warwick Goble illustrations from the Chaucer book that I've been doling out. More to come.

'Flora and Zephyr Had Fixed Their Dwelling There'

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Serial Batman - 1

Back in the mid-sixties there was a revival of sorts for the earliest serial adventures of Batman of the 40s, touring college campuses and such, as "an evening with Batman and Robin". That lead to the Batman TV show, which in turn lead to a tour of the second set of serials, the NEW Adventures of Batman and Robin, from 1949.

I remember on a cold and snowy early afternoon sometime in 1966, being dropped off by my dad at a run-down movie house where for only a couple bucks I watched ALL the Batman serials from both sets, and didn't get out until dark. I was saturated, of course, but it was fun.

I actually liked the cheesiness of the costumes and villains and the "Bats-Cave", because it seemed more realistic to me. In real life, how good could costumes really be, and how hard to be swinging around all the time. No, these guys climbed through the windows the hard way and got the crap beaten out of them in nearly every episode.

I watched some of these a couple of years ago on DVD with my daughter, and she and I enjoyed the episodes still, even though we laughed our way through them.

Serial Batman - 2

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Macabrely Phantastic

A macabrely phantastic display of calligraphy, from the pen of Francesco Pisani of Genoa from the year 1640, when death was always near at hand.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Thomas Blackshear II, a favorite artist of legions of fans, created this fabulous serigraph published by Greenwich Workshop. Just a stunning work of art.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Clive Staples Lewis, known to most of us as Narnia's creator C.S. Lewis, was an English man of letters who made theology entertaining. Besides the world of Narnia, he was famous for a little volume entitled The Screwtape Letters. Perhaps less famous, but most intriguing is his science fiction trilogy that is comprised of Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. Posted here is a vision of Perelandra, which is actually the planet Venus. And 'under its eternal mantle of clouds, he imagines it as a place of endless oceans, floating islands and diffused golden light. And the green woman his hero encounters there is not the Aphrodite of this watery world, but its Eve. A new Eve, confronted with temptation. In this exotically beautiful world of rippling, floating islands on vast warm seas, the forbidden act is to stay overnight on the fixed lands before an appointed time has come' — envisioned here, somewhat surrealistically in a painting by James Lewicki. As I say, most intriguing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Neighborhood Watch

Just your average girl next door . . .

. . . by Chris Achilleos

Celebrity Crush

Stella Stevens was one of my earliest adolescent celebrity crushes. Even now I remember, way back in the 60s, walking through a snowstorm to the movies to watch her in The Silencers, one of those Dean Martin Matt Helm secret agent flicks. I was fickle though, I did the same thing to watch Jane Fonda as Cat Ballou.

Finding this photo in the morgue brings back fond memories of exotic boyhood fantasies.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


An example of early Hernandez Brothers fun stuff, this slightly water-damaged poster is a mild reminder to me of the hail damage my studio suffered in the 90s, destroying parts of my collection and my personal body of work. The skylight was replaced, but not water-fused paper.

I learned a lesson to not grow too attached to things that are just things, but also a lesson to digitize imagery while I have it, and archive it to the universe, or at least to cyberspace.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ultimate Contract

I've signed a few of these contracts in my life.

Roz Chast— one of the consistently funniest panel cartoonists today

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Funny how I identify with Barney here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Le Mage

I'm in deadline mode the rest of the week, so here and there I'll just be posting miscellaneous pix from the morgue that are already scanned.

I'd pay to see this production. Look at that carnage back on the pyre.

Alfredo Edel—Le Mage—1891

A Dinner of Atheists

Found another Félicien Rops drawing hiding in the morgue. This is a colored pencil and graphite illustration for Les Diaboliques by Jules Bargey d'Aurevilly, from 1882, entitled A Dinner of Atheists.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


The body of work of this fellow Félicien Rops defies logical description, except to say it is a fever dream mixture of sex and death and religious satire. This work, The Temptation of Saint Anthony is from 1878, and interestingly the medium was colored pencils on paper, which to me seems rare for that time.

This image is again a find from the midst of searching my morgue for a project. Not sure where to refile it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Jazz Age

Going through the morgue, looking for reference for my current project, I've come across images I haven't seen for years.

This is a promotional illustration for a 1979 NPR series of eight one-hour radio programs, described as a combination of documentary and dramatized short stories, with Richard 'John Boy' Thomas as the voice of F. Scott Fitzgerald, telling Fitzgerald tales.

A 70s stylization of the jazz age

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Another one of those odds or ends—a theatre poster of Griselidis, designed by Francois Flameng, with a really cool delineation of a demon.

Detail of the Demon below:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Robots are Coming

I really am coming back to Fantasia soon. I'm just making some formatting decisions. In the meantime, I want to keep posting stuff, so I'll take this opportunity to again have a potpourri of odds 'n' ends, just to satisfy your hunger for images (as if you don't get enough from tumblr sites).

Here we have a true homage of the classic Forbidden Planet poster, by Kinuko Craft for a Playboy magazine article from some years ago, when it was actually a halfway decent periodical. That was actually a catty comment since I haven't even seen an issue for many years.

It's interesting to compare details, as Craft made changes here and there, but seemingly not on the girl. I know that's supposed to be Ann Francis in the poster, but eh, well, you know—artistic license prevails (NOT a dis to Ms. Francis!).

Monday, February 8, 2010


I'm cross-posting this image from Whirled of Kelly, cuz when all is said and done, this is one of my favorite images of all time.

Walt Kelly — Life Magazine — 1952


And now for something completely different . . . a George Herriman Krazy panel—a personal fivverit of mine:

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Herculean Task

This would appear to be another view of Heracles/Hercules overcoming the nine-headed serpent, and maybe he's already disposed of them other serpent head thingies. But this is also ostensibly a graphic from Les Chansons de Bilitis. I dunno, don't care, it's another cool graphic by Georges Barbier.

But you can also see that Barbier's inspiration was probably some Greek tableau, such as the interpretation below taken from a 6th century B.C. vase. On this vase, Heracles (dressed in a more spartan manner) fights with those fierce women warriors known as Amazons.

Les Chansons de Bilitis — 8

This is an unused Barbier drawing that is of a distinctive period of his work, stylized signature and all. Orientalist and Deco and discretely erotic, a beautiful example of the era.

Les Chansons de Bilitis — 7