The helmeted, injured soldier in the lower left quadrant of Frank Frazetta’s Buccaneer/Destroyer painting and the helmeted, injured soldier/sailor in the lower left quadrant of Jeffrey Jones’s painting for Talbot Mundy’s The Purple Pirate are not exact copies of each other, as you can plainly see above, and yet, they do seem to share a certain family resemblance. So much so, that one might venture to guess that one of the painters has been “inspired by” the other in this detail… however, it’s not at all clear to me who was inspired by whom. Near as I can tell, the Jones cover was published first, in 1970; the Frazetta, second, in 1971. So make of that what you will…
Keywords:The Buccaneer, The Purple Pirate Talbot Mundy, L. Sprague de Camp, Lin Carter.
Although Spanish artist Sanjulian (born Manuel Pérez Clemente) is, perhaps, primarily known to older comics readers as a fan-favourite cover artist for Warren publications such as Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella, he has, in his long career, worked for a wide variety of publishing houses, advertising agencies, movie studios, and so on. What I particularly liked about Sanjulian’s fantasy art from the 1970s was his mastery of classical oil-painting technique, his solid draftsmanship, and his versatility and reliability as an image maker. Here’s a sample of the artist’s work for Ace Books, from 1979, scanned from the library of yours truly [along with a cover from 1988 — see explanation below]:
And yet, as much as I appreciate solid, sexy covers like Worms of the Earth, and generally admire Sanjulian’s early work as a fantasy cover artist, I can’t recommend the only book of Sanjulian’s art currently in print in English.
Sanjulian: Master Visionary, Volume One (SQP Inc., 2001) is filled with uninspired black-and-white compositions, mostly in pencil, that, like a lot of Sanjulian’s commercial works from the 1980s and beyond, seldom if ever manage to transcend their photographic reference material. Yes, there are eight pages of colour in the middle of the book, but none of the selected paintings come close to the best that Sanjulian had to offer, back in the day. Which is to say, in short, the whole project is a major disappointment!
Sanjulian deserves better.
UPDATE (19 April 2010):
For the purposes of comparison, I have just added a sample of a toothless Sanjulian cover from 1988 to this post, and I have to say, I really and truly find it hard to believe that The White Serpent is by the same artist as Worms of the Earth. The decorative, Alphonse-Mucha-meets-stained-glass Art Nouveau style of The White Serpent, with its snaking jumbles of imagery interrupted by snaking black pseudo “lead lines,” will be familiar to the readers of a certain strain of brick-like romance novels, and no doubt covers in that style sell a lot of books (or why would publishers inflict them on book buyers!?), but man, everything about The White Serpent, from its rainbow colour palette to its unctuous paint surface, is so gooey, so cloying, so like pure corn syrup, straight from the jar, jazzed up with food colouring… unlike Mucha’s original confections, which were so perfectly formed, so sweetly balanced, so like the best kind of candy! Or maybe I’m just cranky this morning…