John Watkiss: Master Painter

JW 5

John Watkiss’ website (johnwatkissfineart.com) calls him a “Master Painter” and I can’t imagine a more appropriate label. Now many know Watkiss from his cinematic collaborations with cult filmmaker Derek Jarman. Others, from his design and animation work in Hollywood for Nickelodeon, Fox Animation Studios and most importantly, on multiple Disney productions, or as a key frame concept artist for the visually stunning Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow back in 2003 and for the 2009 Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes, or even more currently on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Yet still others will point to Watkiss’ work in the comics field for both DC and marvel, including Sandman – Mystery Theatre, Legends Of The Dark Knight and Conan The Barbarian.

JW 2

All notable credits, but I’ll just ogle his dark and stunning artwork. John Watkiss earned his BA in Fine Art & Illustration at Brighton Polytechnic and started out as a storyboard artist at Saatchi & Saatchi advertising, where a regular paycheck financed his personal painting and a studio space in an eclectic Regents Park arts complex. It was while working there in the mid-1980’s that his career took off. Now I can’t date the works shown here, or even pinpoint which might be easel paintings and which could be film concept art (though some are clearly Sherlock Holmes pieces). But I can say it’s been a while since a contemporary artist’s work caught my eye like Watkiss’ has.  More of John Watkiss’ work follows in a post tomorrow.

JW 1johnwatkissfineart dot com

Noiquet.

Noirquet--1974

Spanish painter Joan Beltran Bofill (1939 – 2009) was best known in fine arts circles as a contemporary Impressionist, his sumptuous light-filled paintings recognized for nostalgic settings and lush, swirling brushwork. But, like so many artists, Joan (don’t be confused, Joan’s a man’s name in this case) juggled both fine art and commercial art careers, and was also a popular European paperback and digest cover illustrator, particularly in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Noiquet - Beltran

Beltran Bofill came from Barcelona, studied at the Casa Lomja (Picasso had been a student there) and the Sant Jordi Fine Arts School. In an effort to keep the easel painting and illustration work separate, the artist worked under the name ‘Noiquet’ for various series of children’s books, Zane Grey westerns, and a number of standalone mystery/crime fiction novels and series, including Hank Janson and Agatha Christie books, Earle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason and saucy Carter Brown series. You’ll see hints of American illustrators like Robert McGinnis, Victor Kalin and others in Noiquet’s work, most of them excellent period pieces showcasing a real 60’s/70’s/80’s feel.

Noiquet 1974

Rooting around, I see many covers or even original illustrations questionably credited to Noiquet, some of which simply don’t look at all like the artist’s style, or lack his distinctive and usually prominent signature. Tempting as it may be to show them here, I’ll pass, but this post includes several examples of the artist’s work from the early 1960’s through the mid-80’s. A follow-up tomorrow will include some more…

Noiquet - FBI Series 1968

Noiquet

Noiquet

More From Bertil Hegland

Bertil Hegland 1

A few more examples of Swedish artist Bertil Hegland’s mystery/crime fiction cover art, the illustrator’s career tragically cut short at age 42 when an accident caused him to lose the use of his hand. Look for the preceding post for more examples of Hegland’s work.

Bertil Hegland 9Bertil Hegland 8Bertil Hegland 7Bertil Hegland 6

Live And Love (With Guns & Bullets)

Live And Love Plank 69

“PlanK-69”? You got me, but that is the name for the concept, gaming and all-around digital artist master, whose work is mostly in the SF/Fantasy/Gaming arena. If you like that sort of thing, check out his/her DeviantArt page, which is huge and overflowing with samples. But tucked right in the middle of countless gaming/superhero characters and SF/Fantasy scenes are a series of intriguing magazine covers, two of which, Live And Love and Guns & Bullets, are shown here. They’re quite different from the rest of PlanK-69’s body of work, and I wish there were more.

Guns And Bullets

Fernando Vicente

When She Was Bad

Fernando Vicente Sanchez, born in Madrid in 1963, largely self-taught and who usually goes by Fernando Vicente, is among Spain’s most popular illustrators, doing everything from book covers to editorial caricatures, magazine and book interiors to fashion illustration, and some rather provocative (and by that, I don’t mean sexy) fine arts work. A sampling of his work is shown here, but there’s much more to be seen at the artist’s site and linked blog, which has both Spanish and English versions.

Artist’s Site Link: https://www.fernandovicente.es/en/

Fernando Vincente Bond?Megan AbbottPhoto IllustrationLa Voluptuosa WahineBABBBN001SSS251210CLPL_M000000000000Fernando Vincenet Bond 2?Fernando Vincente

Milton Luros

Early Luros

Milton Luros was one of the ‘golden age’ pulp cover illustrators, his work often misattributed to Norman Saunders or Mort Kunstler. One of his cover paintings (a 1944 painting, shown below) was actually part of the inspiration for my ‘Stiletto Gumshoe’ series character (still in the works, alas) with a gun-toting bad guy bursting in on a woman processing incriminating photos in a dark room. I’ve had a file of that pic lurking in my computers’ image archives for ages.

1944

Milton Luros (1911-1999) was born Milton Louis Rosenblatt and grew up in Brooklyn, studying art at the Pratt Institute following high school. He got his start doing B&W interior spot illustrations for western pulps, and by the late 1930’s was earning a decent living as a freelance cover painter for numerous pulp magazine publishers and titles, doing everything from crime to cowboys, spicy’s to science fiction. After marrying his wife Beatrice, Luros set up a studio on West 67th Street, where his neighbors included Rafael DeSoto, George Gross and Norm Saunders…heady company, indeed! Serving as a Tech Sergeant for the Army Corps Of Engineers during WWII, Luros returned to freelance illustration work in the late 1940’s, eventually becoming the art director (and primary cover and interior illustrator) for Columbia Publications’ Famous Detective magazine. With the pulps in decline, Luros opened New York’s American Art Agency in 1955, but soon relocated to the west coast seeking more lucrative film studio poster work.

Crack Detective 1944

He soon took over the art director roles for two new men’s magazines, Adam and Knight, and eventually launched his own men’s magazine, Cocktail, which by 1959 expanded into a multi-title syndicate, Parliament News Distributors. However, ten years later, Luros and his firm became embroiled in obscenity charges, during which time he was depicted in the press as “the world’s richest pornographer”, which surely was a stretch. Ultimately, the charges were dropped, the initial convictions overturned on appeal, and Milton Luros continued to work both as a publisher and illustrator till his death in 1999. While certainly not as famous as some of his pre-WWII pulp marketplace counterparts, this artist is actually responsible for more of the classic pulp era’s memorable covers than we may realize.

THrilling Detective 1944

Frazetta’s Femmes Fatales

Frazetta 2

Just how many late 20th century budding artists first started scribbling their own muscle bound barbarians and sword wielding valkyries after ogling Frank Frazetta’s (1928 – 2010) Conan paperback and early Warren magazine cover paintings, who’ll ever know. For many, the man’s work was the look of dark fantasy for decades. But he was more than Cimmerians and death goddesses, and had a flare for 50’s-60’s style bad girlz when given the chance. There’s not a broadsword or wizard in sight among these.

Frazetta 1Frazetta 3

Duillo’s Crooks & Molls

Duillo 3

Like many of the academically trained artists from the post-WWII era of paperback and pulp magazine illustration, John Duillo’s real interest wasn’t gangsters, gumshoes or femmes fatales, much less the damsels in distress (more accurately, women in peril) that he’s best known for. His real passion was western art and the Civil War. Still, a fellow has to eat, and following a stint in the U.S. Navy, Duillo studied art with Adja Junkers and photography with Berenice Abbott, then worked in commercial illustration, as an art director, set designer and a photographer. From 1960 onward, Duillo is credited with over 500 book covers, constantly in demand for expertly rendered westerns in particular. Search online, though, and you’ll likely be scrolling through a gallery of his color cover illustrations for the late 1950’s through early 1970’s men’s “adventure” magazines, apparently called upon when women in peril images were needed…which seemed to be all the time for those particularly weird publications, and lets just say the images became increasingly ‘perilous’. Quite sinister, in fact. If the 1930’s shudder pulps’ covers seem a little pervy to modern eyes, the so-called ‘men’s sweats’ are diabolically so. WWII Nazis and Japanese soldiers, Cuban revolutionaries, Soviet KGB officers, motorcycle gang leaders and sundry robed and hooded cultists abound, and all of them are gleefully tying up women and threatening them with bizarre tortures – whips, racks, snake pits, alligator ponds, blowtorches, iron maidens — you name it — or in the ‘tamer’ pieces, more conventional forms of sexual assault. Yikes. We’ll skip those here.

John Duillo 1

Cowboys roping steers and rebels waving stars-n-bars flags aren’t my thing any more than than leering sadists. It’s too bad John Duillo didn’t get more illustration assignments for routine mystery/crime fiction book covers or the remaining crime fiction magazines that were still left during his peak years. He was a talented artist, and I’d love to see what he could’ve done with more gangsters, gunsels, gun molls and gumshoes, given the chance.

JohN Duillo 2

Panty Raid?

Break The Black Panty Spy RIng Charles Copeland

I see this ‘silver age’ pulp interior duotone illustration all the time at Pinterest, Tumblr and wherever, though rarely credited. I suppose that sometimes it’s just because the posters are…well, lazy. But maybe in this case it’s because the source’s title is just so darn silly: A Charles Copeland illustration for “Break The Black Panty Spy Ring” by Maxwell Hamilton from the February 1960 issue of Stag magazine. And no, I personally don’t own any so-called ‘men’s sweats’ rags. Doesn’t mean I won’t browse the artwork from Copeland, Bill Edwards, Samson Pollen and others from that peculiar post-pulp-heyday genre. And that has to be one of the silliest titles among those magazines’ many, many outlandish story titles.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑