Illustration Art Gallery

The very best from the wide, sometimes overlooked, world of illustration art, including original artwork for book illustrations and covers, comic books and comic strips, graphic novels, magazines, film animation cels, newspaper strips, poster art, album covers, plus superb fine art reproductions and high quality art prints.

Our gallery brings together artists from all over the world and from many backgrounds, including fantasy, horror, romance, science fiction, education, sport, history, nature, technology, humour, glamour, architecture, film & tv, whimsy, even political satire and caricature.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Martin Asbury

Martin Asbury grew up addicted to comics, trawling through newsagents and book shops looking for American comics. Influenced by Burne Hogarth's 'Tarzan', Classics Illustrated and Frank Hampson's 'Dan Dare', he was educated at Merchant Taylors' School and studied painting at St. Martin's College of Art. Apart from illustrating a story for a comic book giveaway, his first illustrative work included the sheet music for Ron Grainer's The Maigret Theme and painting cardboard cut-outs for use on TV.

An advert in an magazine led him to apply for a job as an assistant for "an international cartoonist"; this was on 'Flash Gordon' and Asbury moved to Austria for six months before clashes with Dan Barry led to his departure. Back in England he designed cards for Hallmark, rising to become their chief designer. Married in 1969, he decided to go freelance and found work drawing for D. C. Thomson's Bunty. With the launch of Wizard in 1970 he graduated onto boys' adventure strips, drawing 'Soldiers of the Jet Age', 'The Crimson Claw', 'The Secret of Deep 16' and others for the paper. At the same time, he also found work on Joe 90: Top Secret, soon to merged with TV21, where he drew 'Forward from the Back Streets' and 'Tarzan'. Some brief-run strips in Countdown led to him drawing 'Cannon' for TV Action and TV Comic before he was hired by Look-In, where, after briefly drawing 'Follyfoot', he had his first big hit with 'Kung Fu'.

Having already filled in once for Gerry Haylock, Asbury took over the 'Dr Who' strip in TV Comic before returning to Look-In to draw more 'Kung Fu', and his biggest hit, 'The Six Million Dollar Man', which ran for four years (1975-79).

At the same time, Asbury took over the artwork for 'Garth' in the Daily Mirror following the death of Frank Bellamy. He was to draw the strip for 21 years, working initially with Jim Edgar; later scriptwriters included Angus Allan, John Allard, Tim Quinn, Phil Harbottle and, from 1995, Asbury himself.

In the early days of the strip, Asbury was also able to continue working for Look-In, his strips for that paper including 'Dick Turpin', 'Battlestar Galactica' and 'Buck Rogers in the 25th Century'. However, an opportunity arose in the early 1980s for a change in artistic direction.

Asbury explained how he became a storyboard artist in an interview in Starlog: "When I was a strip cartoonist, I occasionally did TV commercial storyboards. A friend of mine [Dez Skinn] had an agency dealing with design and graphics and one day a man literally walked in off the street looking for a storyboard artist. I met this guy, production designer Stuart Craig, and he was about to start work on Greystoke with director Hugh Hudson. It was that simple.

"For Greystoke I did nearly 3,500 huge drawings, many of them in full colour. I didn't know they were going to be fed through a copying machine and come out as grey blotches. I learned my lesson on that.

"At roughly the same time, Ridley Scott was looking for storyboard artists, because he was going to do Dune at that point, and he contacted me. I got on with Ridley very well and he had me do a trial sequence for the film. So, he was sort of waiting in the wings and later rang to ask me to do Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which, of course, turned out to be Blade Runner. I had just started on Garth by then and couldn't see how to do the two together, so I declined. But he obviously bore me in mind and invited me to storyboard Legend when I finished Greystoke."

Since the release of Greystoke in 1984, Asbury has storyboarded dozens of movies, a few sample credits would include Labyrinth, Willow, Alien 3, Chaplin, Interview with the Vampire, Fierce Creatures, Quills, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Thunderpants, The Hours, Troy, Alexander, Batman Begins, The Da Vinci Code, The Boat That Rocked, the last six James Bond movies (Brosnan/Craig) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Although Asbury's work on 'Garth' was his most widely syndicated, he is probably most fondly remembered for Look-In and the dynamic look he brought to 'Kung Fu' and 'The Six Million Dollar Man'. He continues to work as a storyboard artist, his most recent work being for the upcoming Between Two Worlds.

Martin Asbury artwork for sale.

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