ARTFULLY DONE

GregSpalenkaCover

Hyperluminal_coverTitan Books have been a part of British comics for decades now and at one point, they were best known as bringing DC’s output to the UK. When Titan lost that DC content, it wasn’t certain how they would continue. But the company has reinvented itself, generated new comic content and also bringing out an increasing line of Art Of books. The two latest titles are The Art of Jim Burns: Hyperluminal and The Art of Greg Spalenka: Visions From The Mind’s Eye. Both books are lavish hardcovers but the two artists couldn’t be more different in terms of their style. The Art of Jim Burns takes a look at the impressive career of British science fiction genius Burns, whose work has graced book covers by the likes of sci fi and fantasy giants like George R R Martin, Anne McCaffrey, Joe Haldeman and Robert Silverberg, to name but a few. The book has a commentary running through it, which does help to contextualise Burns’ work and gives the readers an idea of which point in his career we are talking about. Reproduction here is magnificent and it really shows off just what a master of science fiction art Burns is, able to create new worlds of imagination with his  brush strokes. His work on fantasy covers is slightly less accomplished as he seems to be a little less comfortable in the fantasy world. But this is a very minor quibble. Burns is a uniquely talented artist and it is great to see a book that celebrates that…

Greg Spalenka is a very different artist indeed to Burns. He is an American illustrator who is more in the painterly traditions of the Old Masters, the Pre-Raphaelites and also the hordes of talented 20th century American illustrators and artists. His work follows the lineage of the Wyeths, Dean Cornwell and the British Victorian painters. The Art  of Greg Spalenka shows off the versatility of this man, who is as comfortable drawing Mike Tyson as he is working on Narnia film The Voyage of The Dawn Treader. There is a beautiful elegant simplicity to Spalenka’s work and this format, a slightly oversized hardcover, does do his magnificent paintings full justice. There is a little commentary here but perhaps the work speaks for itself a little more here. The design here manages to reflect Spalenka’s approach as an artist and it does give you a feel of the way he works.

So while I am reviewing both books together, I am in no way comparing the works of the two artists. They are both exceptional practitioners in their own fields and both of these books are welcome additions to the library of anyone who is an aficionado of modern illustrative art…

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