Sci-Fi-O-Rama proudly present a very special feature on Chris Foss, as profiled by Jeff Love, owner and admin of the sublime Sci-Fi art blog Ski-ffy.
Born in 1946 in Guernsey, Channel Islands, Chris Foss is a British illustrator and a powerhouse of science fiction design and invention. His work is a celebration of future machinery, impossibly sized constructions exist on a planetary scale; a showcase of hardware so large that the human figure is dwarfed by comparison.
Arriving in the SF illustration field in the early 1970s, he is a cult figure, influential and universally admired. For British SF and SF art, his work can be seen as a catalyst; his prolific output was used abundantly in the UK paperback market, particularly by publishing houses like Panther, Coronet (Hodder & Stoughton) and Granada. Foss’ iconic paintings adorned the covers of American classics; E. E. Smith’s Lensman and Family d’Alembert series, reprints of the works of Asimov, James Blish and Philip K. Dick. These colourful scenes of gargantuan spacecraft, space-scenes and enormous robots not only influenced an entire school of imitators, but instilled a love of future-tech amongst several generations of science fiction fans.
Still in movie poster mode and continuing on from Mondo here’s short but sweet entry focusing on another of my personal favorites that I’d filed for posting and then – as is often the case – completely forgotten about.
Ian Albinson over at the excellent artofthetitle.com got in touch with me the other day asking me to help identify the original artists and books that were used in the title sequence of the 2009 Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) Comedy “Gentlemen Broncos“. You can view a movie of the the whole sequence here: http://is.gd/dbKfK
In total of 24 books were used by production designer Richard A Wright in creating the title sequence, and I’ve included a small selection here. A few of the designs look familiar, but I must confess I don’t actually know for sure and wondered whether any readers can help out?
2nd Top: I was thinking this has an echo of Peter Elson ? looks like a 70’s cover
3rd Top: A really well rendered painting, an older cover I think – early 60s’?
4th Top: This reminds me somewhat of StarWars concept artist Ralph Mcquarrie – late 70’s?
5th Top: No idea here! cool though…
6th Top: Again this looks slightly older – a 60’s cover?
7th Top: I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this one browsing through the extensive Flickr Sci-Fi-Books Pool but alas I didn’t favourite it.
Please do post a comment if you are familiar with any of the covers featured above or from the movie. Also, do make a point to check out Ian’s site – a superb read & inspiration resource: http://www.artofthetitle.com/
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!
The stunning Barbarella, as visualised by the late Tim Hildebrandt an America illustrator who worked with his brother Greg (as “The Brothers Hildebrandt”) producing art for many famous film, book and comic franchises; StarWars, Tolkien and Harry Potter and many more.
Here’s something I’ve not featured for a while, a bandwidth-crunching animated GIF!
This frenzied loop is ripped from Neill Blomkamp’s magnificent “District 9” (2009), for my money the best allround, accessible Sci-Fi flick since Jim Cameron’s “Aliens” (1986). The great thing about District 9 is that it’s a Sci-fi film that spans way beyond the confines of just one genre, it’s an absolutely fascinating blend of docudrama, social commentary, cutting edge Sci-fi, and (sporadic) breakneck action – add to this the very finest Peter’s Jackson “splatterhouse” FX then lace with wry black humour – superb! I also think a very good indicator for it’s greatness is the fact that most of my friends enjoyed it, and (unlike myself) most of them aren’t geeks!
I’ll say nothing about the featured footage, just in case you’ve still not seen it! anyway you should – available at Amazon http://bit.ly/bwBWiO << treat yourself to the Blu-Ray I reckon….
This freaky spectral beast is a special effect from the 1992 movie Pet Sematary 2, sequel to the the original 1988 film Pet Sematary that was in turn based on Stephen Kings 1983 novel.
(SPOILERS!!) (SPOILERS!!) The basic premise is that the Pet Sementary in question is actually built near to a certain other type of burial ground (wonder what that might be) and (gasp!) burying a dead pet there will in fact resurrect it, only of course the reborn pet is not exactly the same as the old one… I’ve not seen either film (I have read the book) so didn’t recognise this when I originally spotted it via FFFFound, when backtracking through my bookmarks and came across it’s source; the absolutely awesome kindertrauma.com and that’s really what this post is about….
If you’ve even the slightest bit interested in Film Horror from the 70’s / 80’s / 90’s particularly of the B-Movie variety, then I wholeheartedly recommend a good peruse through kindertrauma.com – a lovingly devoted site to all those slightly obscure films you might just remember being tucked away at your local video store…
The angry clouds of Jupiter swirl beneath a retro Von Braun-esque rocket, and a mysterious cylindrical object – Rendezvous With Rama as imagined by UK Illustrator Kevin Hauff. This piece was commissioned by The Radio Times for the BBC 4 dramatisation of Arthur C. Clarke’s classic 1974 Novel.
The story concerns humanity’s first contact with an alien intelligence, when in 2244 a large cylindrical object of unknown origin ermerges from the void of deep space speeding through the solar system on slingshot navigation of the Sun. An Intercept mission is hastily organised and launched, the job of the astronauts to approach the giant craft and board it before it races back to the beyond….
All in all an excellent imaginative novel that was followed by a series of entertaining though perhaps not entirely necessary sequels. Rendezvous with Rama also spawned a point and click CD-Rom adventure/logic puzzle game from the mid 90’s [Link to Rama at Mobygames.com] and has long been rumoured to be about to enter the pre-production phase for a Hollywood adaptation – alas nothing yet! However I did come across this nicely done short film by Aaron Ross, check that here: http://ow.ly/klyc
Haunting still shots taken from the extremely rare late 80’s Polish Arthouse Sci-Fi Movie “Na Srebrnym Globie” (Translation: On the Silver Globe) Directed by Andrzej Żuławski.
I’m ashamed to say I’ve not seen this myself yet, though it’s gone straight to the top of my wish list on it’s rarefied nature alone… Youtube has a series of short clips taken from the films total 166min footage http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZT4zmcDtbd8 and If your interested in aquiring a copy (I am!) it’s available via Amazon.com here: http://is.gd/M3D9
These images are taken from a larger set of 22 photos via Flickr Fav “spinoza1632″ purveyor of all things cult, trashy and obscure or VERY cult, trashy and obscure” – check some of the fantastic featured sets out here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8808272@N07/sets/ – Highly reccomended!
Scans taken “The Colonial Marines Technical Manual” written and illustrated by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood and published by Boxtree in 1995… I’ll have to admit this rare book is one of my prize possessions!
“The Colonial Marines Technical Manual” if you hadn’t of guessed is basically an analytical expansion on all the military hardware envisaged and designed for the movie Aliens. This book covers in an insane level of detail everything this future American fighting force has at it’s disposal, from the things you’ll recognise: Pulse Rifles, Drop Ships & Smart Guns etc through to things you won’t: Ghille Suits, Rocket Launchers, Tanks and much more…
If you’ve ever watched Aliens and wondered just how many floating point operations a Synth – sorry – Artificial Person is capable of processing per second then this is simply an absolute must read!
A rare glimpse of some of James Cameron’s original concept artwork for his 1986 masterpiece “Aliens”. This topographical painting his re-imagining of the films nightmare planet, the inhospitable, unearthly bleakness that is LV-426 Acheron, a dimly lit world ravaged by screaming wind and lashed with perpetual storms….. not unlike a few places in the UK I can think of, only their populated by a species much worse than Giger’s creation’s….. that’s right, the Chav.