Princesses, Amazons, and Mermaids Oh my!
Book Review: Frank Frazetta was the king of the genre of fantasy art and the pair of Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo are the undisputed heirs to that kingdom. But there is a big difference between Frazetta and Julie/Boris - Let me explain ...
Upon first opening this book an episode of Seinfeld popped into my head. It's the episode where Jerry has a girlfriend who likes to lounge around the house naked. At first Jerry loves this but after a while he finds it a bit unsettling so in order to prove his point to her he decides to refinish his living room floor in the buff! Upon seeing this his naked girlfriend says "No, that's not a good naked!" Befuddled by this Jerry decides to ask Elaine about this and this is what she says: "The male body is very utilitarian, it's almost simian; but the woman's body is beautiful, it's a work of art."
And this is exactly where Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell climb over Frazetta and guide the kingdom of fantasy art to a new level. Frazetta predominantly focused on muscular men in his work but Julie and Boris understand the beauty and the power held in a woman; and this book is a collection of some of their finest paintings in tribute to everything that a woman can express.
And this range of feminine expression is one of the striking things about this fabulous book - It isn't just about scantily-clad gorgeous women with swords; (although there are plenty of those) It is also about the incredible range of expression that an artist can convey when using a woman as a model. It ranges from muscular strength to delicate beauty, determination, connection to nature, innocence, darkness, sheer sexual desire, combat rage, and a whole palette of hues in between. And all of this is a good naked!
A Boris & Julie 2007 Calendar
But this isn't the best thing about this book! Yup, it is full of stunning beautiful women but the thing that really appeals to me most about this book is the comments and notes by Boris and Julie. They give insights into each of the paintings as to the symbology of the image or the reasoning to what they were trying to achieve and this makes for a great extra touch. It is not often you get to peek into the mind of an artist. These insights really add a special something to the book - they give you a new way to look at the works.
Of course we can't forget about the women! And this proves my point about the amazing range of expression in this book. They are almost all real models some of whom are famous like Julie Strain (who is quite possibly the most potently sensual woman who ever walked the planet). And there are works where Brinke Stevens of playboy and B-horror movie fame is the model. Julie and Boris tell you a little bit about some of the models - they even found some just working out in the gym. Imagine!
A Big Recommendation to get this book - I am an avid collector of fantasy books and my personal collection is over 1,000 volumes and one of the things that I most love about my books is the covers. I will get different versions of the same book simply because of cover variations. The cover is an integral part of what a fantasy novel is all about. It helps to evoke the sense of another world by giving a small visual glimpse of what an artist imagines that other world to be. This book gives you a great collection of 100 fantasy art covers without having to buy 100 books. It makes a great Coffee table book but not one to leave out if there are kids in the house!