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, August 29, 2012

José Muñoz

Jose Munoz is nowadays best known for his work on the series Alack Sinner, which has been hugely popular in Europe for over thirty-five years. The detective series and the many volumes that have spun off from it are characterised by the artist's heavy use of chiaroscuro and the exaggerated (often grotesque) faces and figures.

José Antonio Muñoz was born on 10 July 1942 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and studied painting, sculpture and drawing at the Escuela Panamericana de Arte where he was taught by Alberto Breccia and Pablo Pereyra.

At the age of 18 he pupblished his first comic strips in the pages of Hora Cero and Frontera, magazines strongly associated with Hector Oesterheld. Muñoz drew several episodes of Oesterheld's Ernie Pike and also illustrated 'Precint 56' by Ray Collins (Eugene Zappietro) for Mixterix, then edited by Hugo Pratt.

For many years Muñoz worked in Francisco Solano Lopez's studio, which was set up in the early 1960s to capitalise on the vast amount of artwork that could be supplied to British comics. Lopez, at his peak, had six assistants, working on weekly and monthly assignments ranging from weekly science fiction and football yarns (Kelly's Eye, Raven on the Wing, etc.) to monthly war titles (for War, Battle, Air Ace, etc.). The studio's output was immense and for the most part it is impossible to distinguish the work of individual artists.

Muñoz travelled to Europe for the first time in March 1971 and in Spain, via a mutual friend, Oscar Zarate, met Carlos Sampayo, a fellow Argentinean who, shortly after, settled in Madrid. Muñoz, meanwhile, settled in London where he was working regularly for Lion, drawing a number of short-lived strips – 'A Stitch in Time', 'The Treasure-Hunt Twins', 'Lost in Limbo Land' and 'Sark the Sleeper' – ahead of Lion's imminent folding into Valiant, where he would draw a few stories featuring Adam Eterno.

At this time, he was being encouraged by Breccia and Hugo Pratt during trips to Paris and Lucca to create his own work, but Muñoz's separation from his wife and daughter led to him living in a commune and earning money washing dishes.

Again, Oscar Zarate persuaded him to visit Carlos Sampayo at his home in Castelldefels, Spain. Here, the two began to develop the character Alack Sinner, who was to debut in AlterLinus and Charlie Mensuel in 1975. The two also began working on other albums, including El bar de Joe [Joe's Bar] and Sophie Goin' South, both published in 1981. The following year Muñoz was named Best Artist at Lucca. Alack Sinner won the Best Foreign Comics Album award at Angoulême in 1978 and 1973. Another collaboration with Sampayo, Billie Holiday, won the Harvey Award for Best American Edition of Foreign Material in 1994.

Very little of his work has been seen in the UK. Escape magazine's tenth issue featured 'Joe's Bar' in 1987 and Viet Blues was serialised in Crisis in 1990-91. In Europe Muñoz has continued to work with increasing recognition. He collaborated with American author Jerome Charyn on Au croc du serpent (1996) and Panna Maria (1999) and continues to collaborate with Sampayo on such titles as Dans les bars (2002), Le livre (2004) and further adventures of Alack Sinner.

In 2002 he was awarded the Max-und-Moritz-Preis in Germany for his life's work and, in 2007, he became only the fourth non-French language creator to receive the Grand Prix at Angoulême.

Examples of artwork by Jose Muñoz can be found at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Russell Myers

Russell Myers is an American cartoonist whose popular "Broom-Hilda" appears in American newspapers. The strip, featuring a 1,500-year-old, beer-guzzling, cigar-smoking, man-crazy witch and her friends, was launched in 1970 and is syndicated by the Tribune Media Services. At least 25 collections of the strip appeared in 1971-87.

Born in Pittsburg, Kansas, on 9 October 1938, Myers was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where his father, a college professor, taught at Tulsa University. He attended Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, where artist Archie Goodwin was a fellow student, and the University of Tulsa. Interested in cartooning from an early age, Myers began illustrating greetings cards for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City in 1960 when his first cartoon submissions were rejected.

"Broom-Hilda" was based on an idea by Elliott Caplin (brother of cartoonist Al Capp), who suggested the characters, which Myers designed. Caplin submitted the strip to the Chicago Tribune Syndicate and it began appearing on 19 April 1970. Myers won the National Cartoonists Society's Humor Comic Strip Award for 1975 for his work on the strip.

Myers married his wife Marina in 1964. Living in Grants Pass, Oregon, the Myers family includes son Stewart and daughter Rosie. His hobbies include reading, collecting old cars and hanging out at our local Saturday night dirt track, where he sponsors a car.

Examples of Russell Myers' artwork can be found at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sheldon Moldoff

Sheldon Moldoff, one of the architects of the comic book Golden Age, died from kidney failure on 29 February 2012, aged 91. Mark Evanier noted in a tribute published on 3 March 2012 that Moldoff was the last surviving artist to have contributed to Action Comics #1, perhaps the most collectable of all comic books; although Moldoff did not contribute Superman's debut, he did contribute artwork to that issue – a sports strip filler on the inside back cover. It was his first professional appearance.

Born in Manhattan, New York, on 14 April 1920, Sheldon Douglas "Shelly" Moldoff was the son of Russian-born immigrants Ben Moldoff (Baruch Moldanski) and his wife Kate. He was raised in The Bronx. After teaching himself to draw, he was introduced to comics by illustrator Bernard Baily, who lived in the same apartment house as Moldoff and his family. At 17, he broke into the comic book industry, selling his first strips to Vincent Sullivan, the editor at National Periodicals.

Moldoff drew covers for the first appearances of The Flash (Flash Comics #1) and Green Lantern (All-American Comics #16) in 1940. In April 1940 he created the character Jon Valor, The Black Pirate, for Action Comics (#23) and took over the artwork (from Dennis Neville) for Hawkman (in Flash Comics #4). In All Star Comics (#5, Jul 1941) he introduced Hawkgirl.

Drafted in 1944, Moldoff returned to drawing in 1946, working for Standard, Fawcett, Marvel and Max Gaines' EC Comics. In 1948, he packaged two horror titles (This Magazine is Haunted and Tales of the Supernatural) which he first took to Fawcett Comics; when Fawcett turned them down, he took them to Max Gaines at EC who offered him a percentage of the profits. Gaines launched Tales from the Crypt a few months later and Moldoff was threatened with blacklisting if he tried to take legal action.

Moldoff subsequently took his dummies back to Fawcett, who paid him $100 for the titles (the latter became Strange Suspense Stories when it launched in 1952) and offered him as much work as he wished to take on. Fawcett folded the titles in 1953 and Moldoff became the assistant to Bob Kane, ghosting Kane's Batman comic strips. Although the work was anonymous – the strips were signed as by Kane – it was steady work; Moldoff also sold strips to DC Comics independently and thus kept himself busy until 1967.

During this period, he helped create the original Bat-Girl (Betty Kane), Batwoman, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Clayface and, as the stories began to grow more outlandish, Bat-Mite, Ace the Bat-Hound, Zebra Batman and the Merman Batman.

In the 1960s, DC made an effort to update Batman and a number of other long-term artists, were let go. Kane's contract was renegotiated in 1967 and he moved into TV animation where he created Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse, for which show Moldoff produced storyboards. He was also the writer, producer and storyboard director of Marco Polo Junior versus the Red Dragon (1972) and Marco Polo: Return to Xanadu (2001).

Moldoff also continued to draw the occasional strip, drawing giveaway promotional comics for Big Boy and Red Lobster restaurants, Blockbuster Video and others. His last work for DC Comics appeared in 2000's World's Funniest one-shot where he illustrated a chapter of Evan Dorkin's Superman and Batman tale.

Moldoff was "outed" in 1991 when Julius Schwartz admitted at a convention "All the years I was buying artwork from  Bob Kane, I wasn't buying it from Bob Kane, I was buying it from Shelly Moldoff." Moldoff became a regular at conventions, selling drawings and signing autographs.

Moldoff and his wife, Shirley, retired to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he died. Shirley predeceased him in 2002; he was survived by his children, Richard Moldoff, Kenneth Moldoff, Ellen Moldoff Stein and seven grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Examples of Sheldon Moldoff's artwork can be found at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beverley R. Morris

Information about Beverley R. Morris is sketchy but a little research reveals the following. He was the brother of the Reverend Francis Orpen Morris, BA, of Nunburnholme Rectory, Bayton, Yorkshire, who was a well-known naturalist, who published a number of books about birds and their nests as well as butterflies and moths. Beverley R. Morris authored a similar two-volume work, British Game Birds and Wild Fowl (1855) which he also illustrated with plates coloured by hand. The book was well reviewed, the Daily News saying that it "has a unique position among works of its class. The sixty hand-coloured plates are splendidly executed".

Beverley Robinson Morris, M.D. was the fourth son of Rear-Admiral Henry Gage Morris. He was born in Ireland on 14 July 1816, but grew up in England, the family moving to Worcester in 1824 and settling in Charmouth, Dorset, in 1826. Morris later trained at Trinity College, Dublin.

He was married to Annie Robinson Skottowe (b. Isle of Man; d. Burnham, Somerset, 21 Jun 1890), daughter of Lieutenant George Augustus Frederick Skottowe, late of the Royal Navy, at St Marylebone Church on 20 June 1850. They had a daughter, Florence Bellenger Skottowe Morris, on 13 March 1851, who married W. B. Saunders in 1874; a second daughter, Annie Leonora Morris, died in 1866 shortly after being born.

Morris worked as a doctor in York and Nottingham; whilst working as Physician to the York Dispensary in the 1840s, his specialty appears to have been the treatment of the insane and he published A Theory as to the Proximate Causes of Insanity and Observations on the Construction of Hospitals for the Insane in 1844.

At the same time he was editor of The Naturalist, which described itself as "A popular monthly magazine illustrative of the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms".

He died on 19 March 1883 at 17 Burns Street, Nottingham, aged 66.

Examples of artwork by Beverley R. Morris can be found at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Jean Giraud (Moebius)

Never has a pen-name been so apt: like the half-twisted Möbius strip he took his pen-name from, Jean Giraud seemingly had two sides which, when examined carefully, proved to be aspects of a single creative mind. As Gir, co-creator of Blueberry, one of France’s most popular comic strips, selling out print-runs of a quarter million copies with each new album, his brushwork was detailed and realistic; as Moebius he used intricate, visually arresting pen-work to explore his subconscious in the pages of Arzach, The Airtight Garage and The Incal.

Giraud had an impact on the visual arts that went beyond comic books. He was seen as a figurehead linking the bande dessinés with Modernism and the nouveau réalisme (although he denied any conscious effort to do so); as co-creator of Métal Hurlant magazine, he took comics to an older, more literate audience; and, in cinema, his fans ranged from Federico Fellini to Hayao Miyazaki and his style influenced dozens of others, including Ridley Scott, George Lucas, James Cameron and Luc Besson.

Giraud was modest about his talents, acknowledging the influences of others, notably Joseph Gillain on his work as Gir, and Alexander Jodorowsky, whom he credited with unchaining his vision and allowing it to fly free to create the surreal worlds of Moebius. Even as the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain held a five-month retrospective—“Moebius Trance-form”—of his work, Giraud told Le Figaro that the act of creating images was not as romantic as often portrayed and that it was something rather ordinary; speaking to the LA Times in 2011, he admitted to feeling happy and amazed when he was told by young fans that his work had changed their lives and read statements like “Moebius is a legendary artist”. “A legend—now I am like a unicorn,” he responded.

Born in Nogent-sur-Marve, a suburb of Paris, on 8 May 1938, Jean Henri Gaston Giraud’s parents divorced when he was three and he grew up in Fontenay-sous-Bois with his grandparents. He began drawing illustrations and comic strips—mostly featuring cowboys and indians, inspired by Hollywood westerns—as a way to pass melancholic hours whilst his mother was out working; at 14 he was introduced by his father to the science fiction magazine Fiction and he became a regular reader of both Fiction and Galaxie for the next twenty-five years. He sold his first story to publisher Jacques Dumas (Marijac) at the age of 15.

At 16 he began training at the École des arts appliqués in rue Dupetit-Thouars, Paris, and earned a diploma in applied arts after two years. At the age of 18 he began producing artwork for advertising and fashion and his first substantial comic strip, ‘Les aventures de Frank et Jérémie’ for Far West magazine. He then devoted himself to comic strips, drawing for Fripounet et Marisette, Cœurs villants and Sitting-Bull.

When his mother moved to Mexico to remarry, Giraud joined her for nine months, returning to France to undertake his military service, drawing for the military newspaper 5/5 Forces Françaises whilst stationed in Germany and Algeria. On his release, he visited Belgian artist Joseph (Jijé) Gillain, whom he had met prior to joining the army, at his home near Paris, who hired him as an assistant. Gillain had absorbed the qualities of American storytelling during a long sabbatical to the USA, and introduced Giraud to the works of Milton Caniff and others whose style was highly realistic. Gillain was then drawing Jerry Spring for Spirou and Giraud became his inker on the story La Route de Coronado, published in 1961 and collected as an album in 1962.

In 1961-62, Giraud also worked with Jean-Claude Mézières on the collection L’Histoire des civilisations for Hachette whilst also producing illustrations for the satirical magazine Hara-Kiri where he first began using ‘Moebius’ as a signature.

Giraud met Jean-Michel Charlier, editor-in-chief of the newly founded Pilote magazine and was invited to draw Charlier’s new western strip featuring Lieutenant Blueberry, one of the most popular comic strips to appear throughout Europe. Blueberry was the nickname of Mike Donovan, a lieutenant in the US Cavalry based at Fort Navajo where he faced constant battles against gunrunners and local Indian tribes. Charlier travelled to the USA to research his scripts and filled them with historical detail, matched by Giraud’s highly detailed artwork.

Drawing, and sometimes colouring, Blueberry filled most of Giraud’s time for the next decade, with each new storyline in Pilote quickly released in album form; sixteen stories had appeared by 1973. Giraud was able to use the time—and the royalties generated by Blueberry—to his own advantage and began exploring new territories. He contributed a number of short stories to Pilote, notably ‘La déviation’ (1973) and ‘L’homme est-il bon?’ (1974), exploring different styles of storytelling and letting his imagination roam free.

Other artists were also trying to break free of the constraints of comics: L’Echo des Savanes was launched in 1972 by former Pilote creators Marcel Gotlib, Claire Bretécher and Nikita Mandryka, marking a new direction for the bande desinees in France.

After one further volume of Blueberry, Giraud teamed up with writer Jean-Pierre Dionnet, artist Philippe Druillet and financial director Bernard Farkas to found Le Humanoides Associés and publish Métal Hurlant (Screaming Metal). Initially conceived as a French answer to American underground ‘comix’, Heavy Metal (as it became in translation) was the launching pad for Giraud’s Arzach and Druillet’s Lone Sloane and very quickly attracted the likes of Richard Corben, Jacques Tardi, Vaughn Bode, Serge Clerc, Enki Bilal and many others. It was in the pages of Métal Hurlant that Moebius experimented with non-narrative (Arzach, 1975) and non-linear (Le garage hermétique de Jerry Cornélius, 1976-79) stories, developing many of the iconic images that were to make Moebius such an influence—the figure of Arzach flying over a barren alien landscape on a pterodactyl or the pith-helmeted Major Grubert, first introduced in ‘Les vacances du Major’ (France-Soir, 1974) and reintroduced in ‘Le major fatal’ in Métal Hurlant before taking a central role in The Airtight Garage.

It was Giraud’s experimental stories that attracted the attention of film-maker Alejandro Jodorowsky, who, in 1975, was attempting to adapt Frank Herbert’s political, ecological and religious science fiction epic, Dune. Although the film eventually came to nothing, it was central to Giraud’s future influence on film-makers. During the pre-production of Dune, Giraud met visual effects supervisor Dan O’Bannon and the two collaborated on the short serial ‘The Long Tomorrow’ for Métal Hurlant. O’Bannon, left penniless after the collapse of Dune, returned to the USA where he roomed with Ronald Shusett, picking up the threads of a screenplay they had begun working on some years before about the crew of a spaceship, whose voyage is interrupted by a mayday signal. The script was offered to Ridley Scott, who used many of the creative team assembled by Jodorowsky—including Giraud, Chris Foss and H. R. Giger—to design the SF/horror classic Alien, released in 1979.

Giraud was now able to split his time between his various personae: Gir was able to take up the reigns of Blueberry once again, re-teaming with Charlier to produce six further albums. With Charlier’s death in 1989, Giraud turned to writing the series as well as drawing, producing another five volumes between 1995 and 2005. At the same time, he also penned four volumes (1991-97) featuring another western hero Jim Cutlass (another Charlier/Gir creation who had made a single appearance in Pilote in 1976) with artwork by Christian Rossi.

Moebius, meanwhile, embarked on the multi-volume story of L’Incal, which debuted in Métal Hurlant in 1980. Written by Jodorowsky, the story is set in a dystopian galactic empire where rulers, rebels and aliens are all seeking an energy crystal which has fallen into the hands of a shambolic private eye, John Difool. This simple premise underpins an endlessly inventive masterpiece, a relentlessly-paced galaxy-spanning adventure, which, at the same time, charts Difool’s philosophical and spiritual evolution.

Meanwhile, Jean Giraud was in demand from the film industry as a concept designer, storyboard artist and even director. His films included the animated Les Maîtres du temps (Time Masters) and Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, live-action SF/fantasy movies TRON, Masters of the Universe, Willow, The Abyss and The Fifth Element, and the hybrid live action/cartoon Space Jam. For French TV he directed the animated Arzak Rhapsody and La Planète Encore. The story ‘Cauchemar blanc’ (L’Echo des Savanes, 1974) was filmed by Matthieu Kassowitz in 1991; a Blueberry movie starring Vincent Cassel in the title role was released in Europe in 2004 (in America it went straight to DVD under the title Renegade).

In the 1980s, Giraud spent much of his time in America (and briefly in Tahiti and Japan) where, championed by Jean Marc and Randy Lofficier, many of his best works began appearing in translation, some—like the Marvel/Epic edition of The Airtight Garage—newly coloured. His connections with Marvel led him to illustrate the two-part Silver Surfer: Parable, written by Stan Lee.

The series won the the 1989 Eisner Award for best finite series and Giraud (along with collaborators Paul Chadwick and Charles Vess) picked up a second Eisner for the story ‘Concrete Celebrates Earth Day’ in 1991. Translations of Giraud’s work won the Harvey Award for Best American Edition of Foreign Material in 1988, 1989 and 1991. Giraud had long been recognised for his work, taking major prizes at Lucca (Italy), Angoulême (France) comic festivals and the Salón Internacional del Cómic (Spain). In 1985 he was decorated with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by French president François Mitterrand.

In 1992, he again collaborated with Jodorowsky on Le Coeur Couronné (The Crowned Heart), which ran for three albums (La Folle du Sacré-Coeur, 1992, Le Piège de l’irrationnel, 1993, and Le Fou de la Sorbonne, 1998), and again in 1994 with Griffes d’Ange (Angel Claws).

A sequel to The Airtight Garage, L'Homme de Ciguri, appeared in 1995 and Giraud, despite being kept busy with his scripts and artwork for Blueberry and Jim Cutlass, still managed to produce further Moebius works, including an Incal sequel, Le Nouveau rêve (2000), and Ikaru (Icarus, 2001) drawn by Jiro Taniguchi.

Giraud died in Paris on 10 March 2012, aged 73, after a long battle with cancer and is survived by his wife, Isabelle and two children, Helene and Julien, from an earlier marriage.

Examples of Jean Giraud's artwork can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.