The World of the Dark Crystal

The World of the Dark Crystal

The World of the Dark Crystal

The World of the Dark Crystal

The World of the Dark Crystal

The World of the Dark Crystal

The World of the Dark Crystal

The World of the Dark Crystal

The World of the Dark Crystal

The World of the Dark Crystal

The World of the Dark Crystal

A selection of imagery scanned from “The World of the Dark Crystal” a 2003 compendium of conceptual art, design and illustration produced for Jim Henson’s 1982 fantasy movie masterpiece “The Dark Crystal”.

For those of you not familiar with the story of the Dark Crystal – it’s a powerful and dramatic tale of a lost world and Jen, a young ‘Gefling’ who set out on perilous quest against sinisterm dark forces. 28 years after it’s original release the award winning Dark Crystal is firmly embedded as a true cult classic and even to this day a is a tour de force in special effects featuring breathtaking animatronics and puppetry… The whole film just oozes quality – there’s never been anything quite like it since – a remarkable odyssey suitable for adults and children alike, although I have to be honest, parts of it still freak me out!

I’d really like to write more here but I’m once again I’m a little time restricted, I think I’ll post here and then revisit again soon – anyway I’m guessing that most of you a familiar with the film. If not – wow! – your in for a treat! I recommend the 25th Anniversary Edition DVD with excellent special features http://is.gd/cTgLX or the BluRay version http://is.gd/cTgXX

The award winning design as shown here is the work of Devon based English Fantasy Artist Brian Froud, who in addition to producing of 20 illustrative book has also lent his considerable fantasy artist talent to several other famous film projects including as Labyrinth (1985) and Peter Pan (2003).

Ok so some notes on the Images I’ve featured from top to bottom (some spoliers here!):

Top: A conceptual sketch of an ‘Ur-Ru’. The Ur-Ru are the ying to the Skeksis yang, Ur-Ru represent light and good, the Skeksis dark and evil. Each Ur-Ru is inextricably linked to it’s Skeksis counterpart, both share a divided soul and are part of the higher being known as the ‘urSkeks’. This omnipotent super-race was violently spilt apart in an attempt to harvested the full power of the planets three suns known as “The Grand Conjuction”

2nd Top: A conceptual sketch of a ‘Skeksis’. For me creature and costume design doesn’t get much better than Skeksis – it’s not that the regal/Afghan hound looking Ur-Ru aren’t beautifully designed too (they are!) – there’s something memorably horrific about the Skekis, their shrill voices and bloated, twisted bodies wrapped inside fantastically elaborate but rotting clothing!

3rd Top: A perfect example of the fallen decadence – “skekEkt the Ornamentalist who made clothes above all for himself, rich fabrics that dripped jewels, the death of a 100 birds for 1 cloak. He first discovered the art of anointing the skin with a paste of clotted blood and diamond powder, to restore the sparkle of youth.”

4th Top: Another superior sketch, check the ruff, ruched sleeves and carefully balanced Tri-Spectacle action! “skekOk the Scroll-Keeper kept the record of the Skeksis; he was the smallest finest-featured, least honest of them all. He wrote and and rewrote his accounts, and kept changing them one or another of his shifting allies, The truth was soon lost.”

5th Top: A close up detail sketch of Skeksis head. A fair visual description would be to say the Skeksis are a kind of avian reptile, perhaps like an Archaeopteryx but also taking the most heavy visual cue from the Vulture .

6th Top: The contorted chaos of “The Castle of the Skeksis”.

7th Top: A design for the floor plan of the Crystal Chamber, the symbols of the original 18 urSkeks can be seen around the edge whilst the crystal hangs above the inner ring…

8th top & Bottom: Concept drawings for Jen the Gelfling, his costume and accessories – love the man bag!

***

For more on Brian Froud visit his official website: http://www.worldoffroud.com/ or read more about him over at Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Froud

And finally, for nostalgia purposes here’s a youtube video of the original 1982 trailer…

***

Frank Frazetta (February 9, 1928 – May 10, 2010)

Frank Frazetta  (February 9, 1928 – May 10, 2010)

Frank Frazetta - The Silver Warrior

Frank Frazetta - Death Dealer

Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta - The Gauntlet

Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta - Portrait 1984

Earlier this month the we sadly lost one of the foremost and talented Fantasy & Sci-Fi Illustrator/Artists of all time, America’s Frank Frazetta who passed away on the 10th of May aged 82. Franks career spanned an almost unbelievable 60+ year’s when he started working in the comic book industry aged just 15, initially providing pencil clean-ups he soon progressed to drawing comics an by the 50’s was producing work spanning a raft of genres including Western, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Historical Drama. Later a spoof Illustration of Ringo Starr for MAD Magazine would bring Frazetta to Hollywood’s attention and he was soon producing Poster artwork, the first of which for the 1964 feature “What’s New Pussycat?” earning him $4,000 – then a years salary for an afternoons worth of work!

Frank’s commercial work was primarily rendered in oils, but he also worked in watercolours, Ink’s and Pencils – examples of which I’ve included above – a style which incorporates brooding compositions of ultra-defined muscular heroes and heroines, always poised for or in mid-action. Other telling trait’s include tattered flailing clothing, powerful ornate armour and weaponry, all beautifully lit beneath apocalyptic skies…

Read more about Frank: his obituary at The Gaurdian.co.uk http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/may/13/frank-frazetta-obituary
or at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Frazetta

Here’s the notes on Sci-Fi-O-Rama’s visual tribute to Frank and his supreme talent, vision and influence…

Top: “The Silver Warrior” – One of Frazetta’s most famous works. Image via Flickr user mtkup

2nd top: “Death Dealer” (1973) Probably Frank’s most Iconic and recognisable image, originally painted in 1973 the used by for rock group Molly Hatchet for the self titled 1978 album.

3rd top: (1966) Not sure of the title here (please post if you know) image is via net-cafe.hu

4th top: (1977) Movie poster for the Clint Eastwood 70’s action flick “The Gauntlet” (not part of Dirty Harry series). Staring Clint Eastwood and then partner Sondra Locke, this is one of my favourite movie posters of all time! (movie’s not bad)

5th & 6th top : Samples of Frazetta’s Comic book / Black and White work…

Bottom: A portrait of Frank taken in 1984 at the Frank Frazetta Museum, prior to opening. image via Flickr user: StevieB44

Recommended further reading & viewing:

Frank teamed up with Director Ralph Bakshi to create the 1983 animated feature film “Fire and Ice” check the trailer at youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r75CZPk8uPs

Michael Foreman – The Saga of Erik the Viking

Michael Foreman – The Saga of Erik the Viking

Michael Foreman - Erik the Viking

Michael Foreman - Erik the Viking

Michael Foreman - Erik the Viking

Michael Foreman - Erik the Viking

Michael Foreman - Erik the Viking

A selection of five enchanting watercolor/inks Illustrations taken from the 1983 Childrens Story “The Saga of Erik the Viking” penned by Terry Jones (of Monty Python) and lovingly illustrated by British artist Michael Foreman.

This is a book I remember well from childhood, and recently picked up a copy via Amazon, the story centre’s on around Erik’s and his loyal companions following their epic voyage in search of ‘the land where the sun goes down at night’. It’s a great read for kids & adults alike featuring some truly mesmorising Illustrations that fit the text perfectly, you really feel the cold and desolation of the icey waves & windswept slate black rocks but there’s something in the way Michael’s draws his characters the lends a real charming, human quality… The Saga of Erik the Viking is available for next to nothing via Amazon http://is.gd/9HO7v makes for great bedtime reading!

Also of note, Terry Jones went on to direct a big screen adaptation in 1989 starring Tim Robins, Mickey Rooney, John Cleese and several other familiar faces http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097289/

Read more on Author/Illustrator Michael Foreman here at Wiki: http://is.gd/9HPx8

The Art of the Arcade Machine Marquee (1)

Alien Syndrome Marquee

Sinistar Marquee

Commando Marquee

Asteroids Marquee

Tempest Marquee

Crystal Castles

Zaxxon Marquee

Galaxian Marquee

Galaga Marquee

Bosconian Marquee

Rastan Marquee

A selection of Coin-Op/Arcade Machine “Marquees” beaming gloriously in brash 80’s technicolor… Marquees (in case you didn’t know) are used to illuminate the name of an arcade game at the top of its cabinet.

Stopping with a friend recently I was reminded with just how amazing this art is as he has a small selection of these marquees as fridge magnets! and I haven’t featured any Coin Op / Pinball design for a while, so figured it was about time to run an update…

So what makes this Art so cool? for me it’s the punchy low palettes & comic-type colouring, mix this up with super striking Logotypes and the fact of course that the whole thing is designed to be backlit! It’s actually worth pointing out that I worked in a seaside arcade as a 16 year old, in retrospect it’s obviously mcuh more than just the game themselves that made a major impact me… My Favourite ever Coin-Op’s ? Turbo Out Run, Aliens, Rolling Thunder and Special Criminal Investigation aaah, things were simpler back then!

So a bit more more about the samples collected here:

Top: “Alien Syndrome” – A top down Commando/Gauntlet-esque shooter dating from 1986, designed and manufactured by Sega, it’s one I missed in the Arcade, though played it on the 8-bit home systems of the day, decent game! Here’s a video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsZ0g6HE684

2nd Top: “Sinistar” – By Williams in 1982, this an evolution of Asteroids, and is similar to Bosconion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcyBtVwAsfg embarrassingly I’d never even heard of Sinistar before researching this post! I’m still not sure how I’ve missed it! Check the freaky Sinistar Sample too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-XEINagmaU

3rd Top: “Commando” – From Nihon Bussan/AV Japan released 1985. Another genre-defining rock solid classic, I’m more familiar with the Speccy version where you had to rotate the joystick 360 degrees to lob a grenade (very difficult).  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qctKI_t5eY

4th Top: “Asteroids” – By Atari 1979. One of the most popular arcade games of all time, this marquee featuring an obvious Battlestar Galactica reference. You must of seen Asteroids, so here’s a clip of Atari’s lesser known 1987 sequal “Blasteroidshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFmhK3VM3Ng

5th Top: “Tempest” – By Atari, released 1987. The wireframe vector graphic legend that’s been recyclced many times, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxIquJIRZHU&feature=related

6th Top: “Crystal Castles” – Another Atari title, this time from 1983 – this is an Isometric platform/maze/puzzler which utilises a bizarre collection of sprites, a game I loved as a kid, and like most games I’m still completely useless at it… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f01M2l9oGJI

7th Top:”Zaxxon” – More isometric viewpoint action, this one from Sega and dating from 1982. Supremely ambitious for it’s time, in many ways this still looks great http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHORFz6ZCC0&feature=related

8th / 9th Top: “Galaga” and “Galaxian” – These classic precursor’s to the Vertical Shoot-em-up both hail released from the Namco stable, appearing 1979 and 1981 respectively. Just in case you forgot how Galaxian plays: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzitZv8Enmc

10th Top: “Bosconian” – The original 8 way shooter from Midway, released 1981. Again this is one I remember from the 8-bit systems rather than in the arcade itself, here’s a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nC5_RYXmfsc

Bottom: “Rastan” – A left scrolling fantasy platform fighter from Taito released in 1987. If the throttled Lizard-Man hasn’t jogged your memory, here’s a clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvn2pPsaE4I

All games referenced via KLOV “The Killer List of Video Games” AKA http://www.arcade-museum.com
a superb reference site…

Images collected from various sources via The Google.

David Jien (1)

David Jien (1)

David Jien - Wildstylin' at bat mountain

David Jien - Top Wizard 1

David Jien - Galmara

David Jien - Visitor

Beautiful B/W graphite art from the extremely quirky world of David Jien

David recently graduated from the art center college of design and currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Most of his drawings are about certain cultures and rituals that take place in a parallel world, David describes this as “my metaverse”.

Notes on the Images:

Top: Wildstyling at Bat Mountain (great title!)
2nd Top: Top Wizard 1
3rd Top:  Galmara
Bottom: Visitor

David’s notes on Galmara:
“Galmara” is the name of a house, over time, the natural landscape around the house is slowly reclaiming it. Instead of fighting it, the lady who lives in the house has embraced this and allows the animals and trees to live with her. Galmara’s windows and doors are always open. She does however, maintain some order. She cleans and sweeps the house and even removes rodents from the pantry, taking them and dropping them off carefully outside.”

See more of Galmara here: http://www.davidjien.com/work/index.php?/projects/galmara/ and David’s full portfolio site here: http://www.davidjien.com/

Thanks to Katy Wu for originally posting me the link

Visco (sfcovers.net)

Visco (sfcovers.net)

Wayne Barlowe

Tim White

David Bergen

Leo & Diane Dillon

A selection of Retro Sci-fi magazine covers from “Visco – The Visual Index of Science Fiction Cover art” over at http://www.sfcovers.net/a fab archive, set up and maintained by Terry Gibbons.

Visco is much like http://www.coverbrowser.com/ in that it’s basically a database of scans & photographs, cataloging Science Fiction magazine publications from the 40’s right up through to the 90’s (why is it the 90’s designs are the worst? ). It’s an excellent little resource with art from many of the artists featured here, and whilst some of the scans aren’t of superb quality the diverse wealth of material more than makes up for it – a great read!

Notes on the above images:

(Top) 1981 cover art from Avatar creature designer Wayne Barlowe

(2nd Top) An action packed 1974 Cover from Tim White

(3rd Top) An astronaut in a familiar pose for this 1976 cover, art by David Bergen … If anyone knows any more about David please post a comment, there seems to be little info on him….

(Bottom) The instantly recognisble work of Leo & Diane Dillon art this time from 1972

Special thanks to Haniff for pointing me in the direction of Visco!

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