Saturday, November 27, 2010

Chapter 34: In Which I Rave Some More About Fantasy Art

Ran into Swords Edge today at the bookstore. Obviously, anything with the name Robert E. Howard on it I have to take a look at. Sanjulian is one of those artists I am only peripherally familiar with, having seen his art a million times but never becoming a fan. I was unaware he did all these Howard illustrations. They're amazing. What I like is that, in addition to making such evocative paintings, this Spanish master emphasizes the fantasy aspect of the Conan stories. Every painting is crammed full of demons, goblins, zombies, castles, jewels, mountains, ghosts, magic staffs, warriors, statues, etc. Were these elements in the stories? Some of them. Doesn't matter. There's serious world-building here. Some Conan artists are content to show him just hacking apart a bunch of guys. Sanjulian wants to show Conan in a time-lost magical world. Pretty darn cool. Everything in it, from the art to the quotations to Arnie Fenner's essay at the beginning, show reverence to Howard. The book's too short to justify the cover price, but its worth a look.

While on the sword-and-sorcery thing, today I read #34 of the collected Berserk. Kentaro Miura is simply on the next level. I've been on and off with this series, since the whole manga "monster of the week" format and requisite power-up pissing contest bores me after awhile. Even in a great narrative like Berserk. This latest volume is just amazing all the way through. The climax is genuinely one of the greatest things I have seen in comic books. I hope, once all is said and done, Miura gets the credit he deserves for fashioning one of literature's great dark fantasies.

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