Written by: Don Moore
Illustrated by: Alex Raymond
Published by: Titan Books
Reviewed by: Kristian Horn
This is the second volume of Flash Gordon Sunday strips released by Titan Books and as impressed as I was with the first volume (you can see my review for the first book, On the Planet Mongo, By clicking here) I have to say that The Tyrant of Mongo has exceeded any expectations that I already had when it came to Alex Raymond’s seminal comic work. The first Flash Gordon volume was one of my favorite comic reads in a long time and I honestly didn’t think that the strip could get any better but it turns out that I was mistaken. The Tyrant of Mongo is representative of a period when Alex Raymond was fully embracing the use of live models for his illustrative work. As a result the artwork here is more refined and professional than anything in Planet Mongo…if that were even possible. I thought that Raymond’s work was remarkable in the first book and I thought that I could see why he was so highly regarded based off of that book alone but it turns out that I really hadn’t seen anything yet.
In The Tyrant of Mongo the artwork in the strips is blown out and enlarged. While there was much of this approach being taken towards the end of volume one, in volume two every page is just filled with oversized panels and as a result Raymond’s art just gets a chance to sing. Panel after panel and page after page is just filled with absolutely gorgeously rendered artwork. Raymond’s expanding of his panels not only shows off his work in the best way possible but it helps to add a larger scope to the story. Instead of using the smallish, cramped panels that many comic strip stories of the era utilized, Raymond embraces an almost “widescreen” type of panel work. This technique gives Flash Gordon’s space opera adventures the scale that they need to pull off the feel of grand adventure that something like this type of science fantasy should embrace. Raymond’s work in The Tyrant of Mongo is breathtaking to behold and I can’t remember the last time I was this impressed with an artist’s work.
Credit must be given to restorer Peter Maresca and the people at Titan Books. The quality of the reproductions in The Tyrant of Mongo is just absolutely astounding. The Tyrant of Mongo is just a stunning book and much of that has to do with Raymond’s work but it also has to do with the fact that an expert crew was able to take artwork that was at least sixty years old and make it look as if it had been printed yesterday. The presentation of Raymond’s art here is flawless and every line looks to be faithfully preserved. I can’t say enough about how awed I am by how great the comics look. The book The Tyrant of Mongo is actually a work of art in and of itself beyond what’s inside the volume and whoever was responsible for pulling this whole project together deserves to have laurels thrown at their feet for a job well done.
Written and Illustrated by: Andrew Loomis
Published by: Titan Books
Reviewed by: Kristian Horn
Andrew Loomis stands a titan above all others when it comes to the illustrative arts. With this latest re-release from Titan Books Loomis’s reputation will continue to be firmly cemented in annuals of artistic history.
There isn’t much that I can write here about Andrew Loomis the man, educator, and artist that hasn’t been written in other places with people of a higher pedigree than myself. Loomis is a genius and his work is respected and his books are highly regarded by just about anyone who’s ever studied any kind of illustrative technique. I’ve reviewed many of the re-releases during my time at Ain’t It Cool News Comics and given each volume a glowing review. I don’t think it’s going to be any surprise to anyone out there when they read that I found Loomis’s Creative Illustration to be just as fantastic a work as many of the others that have come before it.
While many of Loomis’s previous “text books” on draftsmanship have focused on the specifics of certain elements of figure drawing, Creative Illustration goes beyond just illustrating the human form. With this tome (and it is a tome, it’s a massive book) Loomis goes all in as far as teaching the specifics of different artistic techniques. Creative Illustration approaches all kinds of different subject matter. Loomis covers painting, color theory, composition, storytelling, etcetera, etcetera…it’s all in here. This book is all encompassing. Loomis covers all of the bases and offers insightful and instructive tutoring on just about every aspect of the illustration field. Creative Illustration is practically a bible filled with artistic knowledge from one of the giants of artistic instruction. This is a perfect book for anyone who wants to expand the extent of his or her artistic ability. It’s such a huge book with so much information that any artist willing to pick it up is practically guaranteed to learn something after reading through its pages. Along with the other re-releases of Loomis’s books from Titan Books Creative Illustration is a must have for both the novice and professional draftsperson’s library.