Sci-Fi-O-Rama contributor Ben Feldman recently pointed me toward an online selection of Heavy Metal, the infamous American Sci-Fi/Fantasy magazine most prominent in the late 70s and 1980s.
Heavy Metal was originally a remix of translated material from the French comic anthology Métal hurlant and prominently features art from Gallic masters such as Moebius, Enki Bilal, Philippe Caza and Phillippe Druillet.
Anyway, whilst scanning through the back issues I came across samples of this Jaw-dropping Jim Steranko adaptation of the Sean Connery Sci-Fi flick Outland (Peter Hyams, 1981). The level of draughtsmanship detail is simply incredible, a level of confident intricacy that rivals even the technicality Katsuhiro Otomo.
A quick recap, Outland is a ‘high-noon-in-space’ type thriller that features some superb claustrophobic set design akin to Ridley Scott’s Alien, though distinctive enough to merit its own plaudits. The plot revolves around a drug smuggling conspiracy set on a mining colony on Jupiter’s moon Io and whilst the film’s narrative is at times plodding it does have a brooding edge and features decent performances most notably from Connery.
The real star of the show, however, is the aforementioned design, It’s your typical early 80’s ‘used-future-look’
This origin of this post comes via an old scan of a Finnish textbook I’d come across on ffffound.com (now defunct).
The scan features an intriguing selection of coats of arms representing various municipalities of Finland. These crests all share a powerful combination of both graphic and abstract elements, underpinned with a definite feel of modernism. Essentially then, far more punch than the boring traditional British heraldic crests I’m accustomed to.
Anyway, I decided It was high time to do the research so here’s selection of my favourites.
Pielisjärvi – Pielisjärvi is an area of North Karelia, situated on the Russian border. As with many Scandinavian Coats of Arms the endless boreal forests and creatures that inhabit them are a common theme.
The original design is credited to Tapio Vallioja (1920-2005) who designed numerous coats of arms for municipalities, communities and individuals. According to translated Finnish Wikipedia (quite well I might add) Vallioja was one of the 12 founding members of the Heraldic Society of Finland, the article describes his style as ‘clear and understated’.
Enontekiö – A community in Finland’s North West that lays above the Arctic Circle, part of the area that is considered Lapland. This design a Rock Ptarmigan on a bright blue shield, a pretty bird colloquially known in English as a ‘Snow Chicken’.
Kickstarting Sci-Fi-O-Rama has me busy researching once more, sites are bookmarked and images saved. Occasionally though, something pops up that’s just too special not feature straightway, such as the art of Ivan Bilibin.
Ivan Bilibin (1876 – 1942) was a Russian graphic artist and stage/costume designer most famous today for his stylised take on Russian Folklore and Medieval art. His work bears strong Art Nouveau characteristics, similar in vein to that of Aubrey Beardsley. Though in truth the influence stems more from their shared passion for 19th-Century Japanese block prints.
Above: ‘Tsaritsa Militritsa’
Born in Tarkhovka (near St Petersburg) Bilibin showed much artistic promise as a youngster and went on to study in both Munich and St Petersburg under the tutorage of Anton Ažbe and Ilya Repin respectively. While studying under Repin, he was commissioned by the (then tsarist) Department for the Production of State Documents to illustrate a series of Russian Folk Stories. These would be published in six large format paperback volumes, bringing him praise and recognition from the newly formed ‘World of Art’ group (Mir Istkusstva). Commissions for that circle were to follow, allowing Bilbin to cement his path to a career as an Illustrator.
Veteran readers of Sci-Fi-O-Rama will obviously be familiar with the work of Austrailian artist and model-maker Dan McPharlin. He contributed to several posts and of course, designed the Sci-Fi-O-Rama logo. I’ve featured his gorgeous paintings many times and also interviewed him back in 2010.
Sadly as you probably are aware, in 2015 Dan’s internet presence stopped, and thus, nothing new has since appeared. This is not necessarily ominous, I believe Dan may simply be living ‘off-the-grid’. Over the past few years, I’ve received several emails regarding contacting him for potential commisions, I’m afraid I know nothing more than mentioned, I’ve lost touch with him myself. Anyway, let us not be gloomy, I’m sure he’s fine and busy beavering away on some spellbinding-vista as you read this…
A recap then and study of his overflowing talent.
Above and Title Image: ‘Storie Incredibili / Contatto col Nemico’ Wired Magazine (Italy), July-August 2014 issue.
These serene post-apocalyptic Illustrations form the perfect introduction to the art of Dan McPharlin and demonstrate how he excels at his craft. A delicate blend of Science Fiction and Surrealism, perfectly composed with a precisely balanced colour palette washed over with soft mists of texture.
Sci-Fi-O-Rama resurrects with a very special feature on Canadian miniature Photographer and Film Maker Adam Makarenko.
An award-winning multi-talented Artist Adam’s obviously involved with a plethora of supremely interesting visual projects, but it’s his outrageously ambitious ‘exoplanets’ mission we focus in on.
Exoplanets, of course, are rarely out of the news these and the science to hunt them has come along way since the first definitive detection back in 1995 (Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz of the University of Geneva). Fast forward 22 years and as of the start of April 2017 confirmed exoplanets number over 3,500 and range from huge gas giants right down to worlds a similar size to our own precious Earth.
Just how earth like are these worlds, and are they suitable for life ? These are the tantalising questions cosmologists and biologists face today. To answer is a mammoth technical challenge, not unlike Adam’s endeavour to experiment and construct his vision of these far flung worlds in miniature.
Above: (1) Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith – evil figurehead of the Imperial Forces. (2) A member of Darth Vader’s Guard Corps. Notice the Vader style helmet. (3) This Imperial pilot wears armour in the style of the Stormtroopers.
Just in case you’ve been living under an icy rock in a galaxy far, far away you may not have noticed one of two things. Firstly Sci-Fi-O-Rama hasn’t published any new material for aeons, and secondly, there’s a brand new Starwars Film out. So then, in an effort to bound the two together here’s a rare gem I’ve managed to unearth featuring the original trilogy’s Oscar-winning Costume designer John Mollo.