Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mark Schultz's Carbon

I received my copy of Mark Schultz's new book Carbon in the mail today. This handsome 56 page book is described as "Volume 1" and says it is the first in a series to pickup where Schultz's Drawings of... series left off.

Carbon is a delightful start to this new series, and sets a high bar for future volumes. But then again, Schultz has always seemed to top himself. The book consists of drawings completed mostly over the last two years, with the majority of them being unpublished. It starts with an interesting short essay by the artist about recreating from just a few fossil bones the newly discovered dinosaur Xenoceratops foremostensis A series of drawings, along with Schultz's self-deprecating comments, show the process he went through with a paleontologist to achieve an accurate rendering of the saurian.

There's also four foldout pages. Almost all of the pieces displayed show at least one preliminary and the finished piece, giving a peek into into the artist's process. There's some Xenozoic pieces in there you may recognize and some drawings from Schultz's upcoming illustrated novella Storms at Sea. The other drawings are fully rendered depictions of Burroughs-esque princesses and heroes, plus other heroines, tough guys, jungle girls and otherworldly creatures.

I'm not sure what some of the drawings are for, if they are intended for publication as book covers someday, or illustrations from the Storms at Sea project, which I don't know much about. The only possible negative criticism I could offer about this book has to do with that, a little bit of context and explanation about the art would have been nice, but hey, less text means more room for pictures, right?

I last was paying attention to Schultz during the waning days of Xenozoic Tales. At that point, he really had the Alex Raymond thing going on, and it was a blast. And always with the other wonderful EC and classic illustrator influences shining through. I always enjoyed Schultz's work, it was fun seeing the different influences being distilled and made new again. Looking at his art almost 20 years later, I can really see a unique and individual style that is only Mark Schultz. There's a much more solid and surer line, while at the same time remaining loose,and the compositions are exacting. Looking at Schultz's current output, it's obvious the work is informed by classic illustrators and artists like Williamson, Wood, and Krenkel, but the influences aren't worn as much on the artist's sleeve as his earlier work. I hope I'm getting across how much I loved his 1980's and 1990's work, but it's just a wonderful breath of fresh air to see Schultz continuing to grow and become more individual without straying to far from his roots.

The softcover edition of Carbon is available from Flesk Publications. I got the limited hardcover (appears to be sold out) through their Kickstarter campaign and also received a nice signed print. Here's an interview by John Flesk with Mark Schultz about this book and Mark's recent work.

This is the biggest batch of new Mark Schultz art dumped in my lap in years, and I'm thrilled. If you're a fan of Schultz already and don't have this book, hopefully you're returning to this page after you clicked the link to buy it. If you don't know about Mark Schultz, you're in for a treat. Any fan of pulp heroes, dinosaurs, science-fiction and fantasy art will find something in this book to love. All thumbs up, four stars, and highly recommended!

1 comment:

Chris Todd Miller said...

I'm fairly new to the genre so I'm not very familiar with Mark Schultz. I don't know his work from the 80's and 90's but I got the same book as you did via the Kickstarter and I'm absolutely thrilled with it.