Jim Steranko – Outland

Jim Steranko – Outland

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.

Jim Steranko - Outland

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.

New Poster Art

Alejandro Magallanes - Behind The American Dream

‘Behind The American Dream’ Alejandro Magallanes (Mexico 2001)

This selection is a book sampler ‘New Poster Art’ published by Thames & Hudson in 2008. I picked up a copy after spying a fellow commuter thumbing through it on my regular morning train journey. As the title suggests its a fairly weighty compendium of selected poster Design, Typography and Illustration pulling in artists from across the planet…

The books global nature makes it interesting by default, encompassing an extremely varied selection of art and applied graphical technique. Here’s a taster with a few notes…

'Unknown Land' AGI Poster

‘Unknown Land’ AGI Poster (Netherlands 2007) Bob van Dijk
An interesting abstract blend of bold primary colours and grungy line work, lovely stuff.

Dieter Feseke - Maria Stuart by Friedrich Schiller

 ‘Maria Stuart by Friedrich Schiller’ – Dieter Feseke, Theatre Poster (Germany 2002-3)

As the above example demonstrates ‘New Post Art’ is full of examples of Silkscreen printed work, and thus many excellent references for contrasting,

Heinz Edelmann - Lord Of The Rings

‘Lord of the Rings’ (German Book Cover) – 1970

Sci-Fi-O-Rama is proud to present a selection of ‘far out’ imagery sequestered from the fantastically titled ‘Electrical Banana’ Psychedelic art book – and yes that title is indeed derived from a reference to a certain type of sex toy.

This article was originally planned as a feature on 60’s Psychedelic Music Posters by artists such as Bonnie MacleanVictor Moscoso and Wes Wilson and you may well have spotted samples appearing in the Sci-Fi Overflow. Upon searching for an appropriate book to feature I came across Electrical Banana and a selection of artists I was less familiar with so I thought I’d give it punt. Here’s the blurb:

Electrical Banana is the first definitive examination of the international language of psychedelia, focusing on the most important practitioners in their respective fields with a deft combination of hundreds of unseen images and exclusive interviews and essays, Electrical Banana aims to revise the common perception of psychedelic art, showing it to be more innovative, compelling, and revolutionary than was ever thought before.

The artists include: Marijke Kroger, a Dutch artist responsible for dressing the

Silence Televison - Back To The Future II

Lets start 2013 with something of a round up. A quick reality check, refresh, and splash of Eau de toilette. 

What we have here then is a brief sampler straight from the Sci-Fi-O-Rama barometer, a long awaited update on a selection of the finest, past featured contemporary artists.

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Silence Televison

We begin this post sandwiched between the wonderful work of Peruvian Designer and Illustrator Gianmarco Magnani, better known in design circles as Silence Televsion. Heading the article is a simply stunning metallic screenprint celebrating Robert Zemeckis’s 1989 blockbusting sequel ‘Back to the Future II’, a recent commission for Mondo, whom we have of course interviewed before, In fact Mondo is a common theme here as you’ll see…

The Mondo Screenprint alas is long since sold out, though I imagine as with other Mondo material they’ll circulate occasionally in eBay (set up a watched search).  What I particularly love about this DeLorean DMC-12 rendering, aside from the typical hyper detail is of course the angle, admittedly it’s a while since I last saw the film, but I can’t remember ever seeing a shot of the car at this viewpoint,

Some original material here, as scanned from ‘Creative Computer Graphics’ (Cambridge University Press, 1984) this one I came across whilst searching through the Google Books archives, and intrigued I decided to order a hard copy. Google Books by the was is well worth a look, countless printed publications are logged and categorized dating from recent to way back. Most modern titles are subject to copyright so show just a selection of internal pages, but this is plenty to gain a flavour and if you have 10 mins to burn, I highly recommend a trawl through.

Creative Computer Graphics  - The Last Starfighter

Above: A still from The Last Starfighter (1984) this ‘Gunstar’ model is comprised of almost 400,000 Polygons, this was four times more than had ever been attempted with any other computer generated model and each frame took 5 minutes or more to render on the most powerful computer available, a Cray X-MP.

So a little more about ‘Creative Computer Graphics’, this was then, I presume,

Sci-Fi-O-Rama presents an analysis and artistic appreciation of five pioneering 8-bit and 16-bit computer games.

The era is the mid to late 80’s, a period fabulously rich in gaming concepts and innovation as developers frantically sought to grasp, harness and subsequently wring every last nanogram of creativity from the available platforms of the day. Each title here contained – for the time – an array of groundbreaking ideas and technologies. What else connects them? well of course I played them way back when and thus they are in some way or another forever burned into the hazy mists of my subconscious.

I’ve been mulling over this one for a while but wasn’t sure quite how to start, hence the recent posting log jam. I wanted to compose an extended retro game feature, but not just to give a rose tinted review of gameplay or mechanics. Here then is a more focused look at the visuals themselves, what fascinated back then and what us still so beautiful and relevant today, 2012.

1. Midwinter (1989) Microplay – Amiga/Atari St/IBMPC

Hailing way back from 1989 we begin with this wonderful in-game animation, taken from Mike Singleton‘s seminal first-person Action/Strategy game ‘Midwinter’. I actually covered the back story and game mechanics in depth a few years back, today the focus is the virtual world itself . This long forgotten classic (23 years old!) featured the implementation of many radical new ideas most notably it’s beautiful, fractal generated landscape, all 160,000 square miles of it. Upon this jagged stage of relentless grey and blue polygons the game would unfold, the above animation shows all of the objects to be found within this bleak digital realm.

This type of spinning model animation was not unique to Midwinter, as you’ll see below, but of them all this (for me) has the most resonance. Back them due to hardware restrictions, there was no texture or bump mapping – at least not in game – graphics could only run with a limited palette, though this was expanded by interlacing or dithering the colours.  Seen above this is the checkered, flickering effect as two filled blocks dance between each other. There’s also a real charm with the basic tones of this palette too, earthy terracotta, golden yellows and shades of evergreen jumping straight off the jet black background. A final note and a total giveaway of the era is the speed in which the objects rotate, the simplest and smallest revolving far faster, whilst the emulated 8Mhz processor slows to shift the larger models.

I’ll summerise to say how the subtle, simplistic genius of the design today could easily pass off as abstract pop-art.

Read more about Midwinter at Wikipedia

Midwinter Snow Witch

Midwinter Snow Bull

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