For those of you that are aware of the Book Palace, you will hopefully also be aware of their in-house imprint which publishes Illustrators, a beautiful produced quarterly magazine dedicated to enhancing our knowledge of all things dealing with comics. In fact, they call it Illustration art rather than comics and I am not inclined to argue that point, as some of their subjects are as stunning as anything you might find in a gallery.
Every so often, they publish a Special issue and it’s Illustrators Special 2: British War Comics that I am going to concentrate on here. Not owning any of the previous issues due to the subscription price being just a little outside my range, I did not know what to expect when this came through my door. (One of my fellow downthetubes contributors was kind enough and brave enough to mail me his copy, so thanks for that, Richard).
I was suitably impressed by the heft of the Special when it arrived, but I put off opening it as I have been too often disappointed by reference books on comics where I find myself correcting some minor point in the book, or mentally adding in something obvious that had been missed by the authors. However, I finally opened the parcel and I was immediately surprised by the fact that what I had thought of as protection for the magazine was actually more magazine than I had bargained for – an extra 50 pages than the normal quarterly.
As I browsed, I was left with a mild disappointment as I am a simple man and my hunt is always for more information on those who have contributed to the only picture library still going and to see that only one of these artists, Ferdinando Tacconi, had contributed to Commando was a little deflating. But that original sense of disappointment drifted away as I fell head first into the glorious art of the alumni of Studio Dami.
This special features articles on Roy D’Amy, Giorgio De Gaspari, Gino D’Antonio, Alessandro Biffignandi, Renzo Calegari, Nino Caroselli, Ferdinando Tacconi, Pino Dell’Orco and Hugo Pratt (whose work artist Keith Page recently spotlighted here). And the more I read this issue, I began to revise my idea of how much a subscription to this magazine is, to the point where I am beginning to wonder if I can afford to be without one.
While the focus of this Special is on the work done for the Fleetway trio of military action picture libraries, Battle, War and Air Ace, the contributors produce an informed overview of each artist’s work and the choice of some of the artwork is just breath-taking. There are also photographs of some of the artists so it was great to finally put faces to some of the names I have learned in my personal research into comics. I was pleased to see one of my personal favourite example, “Cottonwool Commandos”, by Nino Caroselli’s made it into the special.
As you can see from the start of my review, I didn’t actually own a copy of this Special, but as a self-confessed picture library addict, there is no way I could pass up owning one of the limited print run. So despite the team at Book Palace being kind enough to send me an e-copy so that I could extract pictures for this review, I have still gone out and bought myself a copy.
Now if that’s not a recommendation to anyone, I don’t know what is!
Now all I have to do is make sure herself, who’s a massive Vampirella fan, does not clock Illustrators Special 1 about Warren comics!
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