Scheduled for release in February 2012 (according to Amazon), Michael Wm. Kaluta: Sketchbook Series Volume 1 is described by the publisher, IDW, as “the first in a series that will provide a glimpse into the inner workings of this great artist, from the very earliest creative spark to more finished concepts and nearly completed works. Each image has been scanned from Kaluta’s personal sketchbooks and archives, and is accompanied by commentary from the artist.”
To whet your appetite for Kaluta’s new book, here’s the fifth (?) instalment in writer Len Wein and artist Mike Kaluta’s adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1934 novel, Pirates of Venus. Wein and Kaluta’s adaptation was part of an ongoing series of “Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Carson of Venus” stories that had a short but memorable run as back-up feature in the series, Korak, Son of Tarzan. If you’re familiar with Frazetta’s cover paintings for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Carson of Venus” novels, you will notice on the third page of the story that Kaluta gives an artistic tip of the hat to Frazetta’s painting for the 1963 Ace edition of Lost on Venus; for those who aren’t familiar with Frazetta’s painting, I’ve included an image of it below for the sake of comparison:
[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]
It was obvious right from the start that Kaluta and Burroughs were a match made in heaven! And if work like that doesn’t make you want to see Kaluta’s sketchbook, and read what he has to say about his process, then nothing will…
In Michelangelo’s sculpture, known variously as The Deposition, The Florence Pietà, the Pietà del Duomo, and The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, the left leg of the central figure of Jesus Christ is not obscured by his other, foreground leg or tucked behind the figure of his mother, Mary, at the viewer’s right. Rather, the left leg, which was originally draped over Mary’s knee, was removed/smashed by the artist, who then decided, for some reason, to give the sculpture to a servant.
Art historian Leo Steinberg has argued that Michelangelo smashed the sculpture because he had second thoughts about the sexual symbolism of the intertwined legs, but others claim that Michelangelo was simply angry because he discovered a flaw in the marble that made it impossible to continue the carving. As I recall, Steinberg’s historical evidence for the existence of such a symbol is fairly strong, but whether or not Michelangelo was aware that his composition might arouse controversy and smashed the leg (and more) as a result remains an open question.
Notice how Frazetta hasn’t bothered to construct any kind of a harness for the Silver Warrior’s polar bear sleigh team and how Chaykin’s attempt to supply Urlik Skarsol’s polar bear team with a semi-plausible harness — with collars that look as though they might be made out of big, black inner tubes recycled from old truck tires — actually diminishes rather than enhances Frazetta’s gloriously silly original concept by drawing undue attention to the mundane question of how, exactly, the fantasy hero’s cool mode of transportation could be made to work in the real world and whether Chaykin’s design is, in fact, a viable solution.
Take a close look at the full-page picture of the female movie star in the magazine that Norman Rockwell’s Girl at Mirror has in her lap. Now look at the reflection of the woman in Robert McGinnis’s painting for the Carter Brown novel, The Never-Was Girl; see how McGinnis’s model seems to be using her hands as a cover to test how she would look with her hair done up like Rockwell’s movie star; also, simply compare the two faces. Coincidence? I doubt it…