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Revelations: the Art of Max Bertolini

by Max Bertolini

(Paper Tiger, £20.00, 128 pages, A4 hardback, published 17 March 2005.)

Welcome To My Worlds: The Art of Rob Alexander

text by Rob Alexander and Susan Stejskal
illustrations by Rob Alexander

(Paper Tiger, £20.00, 126 pages, hardback, published 21 April 2005.)

 

Review by Noel K Hannan

Coffee table collections of art by artists who work predominantly in the book cover market (and lately, you can extend that to cover computer games and collectable cards) are a staple of the industry and probably predate coffee tables themselves. A quick look at my own bookshelf confirms that Paper Tiger has cornered this particular niche for many years.

Both these editions are well presented in the usual Paper Tiger style, and whether or not you consider a book of art a worthy purchase pretty much depends on what you think of the artist within -- a situation where judging a book by its cover is a reasonable tactic. Having said that, in my opinion neither artist has chosen outstanding work for their own covers -- of the two, Bertolini goes for the classic 'good girl' fantasy art while Alexander chooses a darker, more malevolent image. In both cases, there are images inside that I consider far superior.

cover scancover scan

Bertolini first. An Italian and long time artist on the Nathan Never comic book (extremely popular in Europe with English language editions produced by Dark Horse in the USA), there is plenty of bold black & white comic samples to start, but we move swiftly on to Bertolini's favoured medium, which is digital. After some striking Heavy Metal-style digital comics, the bulk of the book consists of covers for such US publications as The Magazine of Fantasy & SF. Digital art has the potential to be sterile and derivative but Bertolini excels with it as a tool and the results can be breathtaking. There are also plenty of textual insights into his modus operandi and a fair amount of digital evangelism. Those of you who enjoy the heaving bosoms and glossy biceps of the Mills & Boon covers are also in for a treat as there are some samples of Bertolini's work in that particular field.

Alexander's collection is, I feel, the weaker of the two. His art style leans more toward whimsy and ephemera and his medium is generally watercolour, although there are several striking oil paintings and some interesting digital experiments. Alexander, a Canadian from Alberta, is also a great celebrant of the outdoors and many images draw upon the majestic landscapes of the Rockies. There is also more commercially recognisable work here -- Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Magic: The Gathering are all represented, and also an interesting section where the technique for a painting is revealed over a sequence of sketches and layers.

Should you be in the market for more coffee table decoration then you could do worse than to check out these two collections, Bertolini for me is the more visually pleasing artist however if whimsical fantasy is your thing then Alexander may be your choice.


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