Saturday, February 8, 2014

Review of The Art of Vampirella: The Warren Years

Today's post covers this newly released book which I purchased and quickly devoured this week.

Fans of Vampirella magazine should enjoy this book a lot. It contains coverage of the original 112 issue run of Vampirella magazine (around 100 covers in total when deducting reprint and montage covers). It also includes coverage of the first Vampirella annual, a Pantha special issue and a few specialties as well, such as the originally intended cover for issue 31 which was replaced by a Frank Frazetta painting for the film Luana. Oddly enough the book covers the back cover for issue 37, but not the Ken Kelly back cover used for issue 40 (the only omission from the book that I'm aware of).

Each issue of the magazine featuring an original cover features two pages of coverage, one showing the original cover painting and another showing how it appeared on the magazine itself. Author David Roach (who was one of the authors of the Warren companion) also provides some basic background information on the cover and the issue itself. The depth of such information varies from issue to issue. Some issues feature only a sentence or two while others feature several paragraphs discussing details about the issue's contents as well. Roach provides a lot of interesting information including background information about the original sources of the covers and even information about the models who posed for the paintings. Roach also provides a roughly 10-page introduction which includes some rarely seen European art from Seleciones Illustrada artists like Jose Gonzalez, Esteban Maroto, Ramon Torrents and others (although unfortunately they are all uncredited).

Some interesting facts I learned from the book that even myself, as a huge Warren fan wasn't aware of included:

  • That the Vampirella poster used for the cover of issue 19 (arguably the most well known Vampirella image and used for the cover of this book), which was credited solely to Jose Gonzalez was actually painted by Enrich Torres. Gonzalez was uncomfortable working with paint, so he drew Vampirella and had Enrich paint it. It was purposely credited only to Gonzalez.
  • Identifying the cover painting artist for issue 22 (which for many years in even well known Warren publications like the Warren companion and Richard Arndt's book was not identified) as Josep Marti Ripoli
  • A painting of Vampirella by Sanjulian originally intended for a poker game was instead taken and used for the cover of issue 36 (later used again for issue 55).
  • The cover to issue 96, which was painted by Jordi Longaron (miscredited to Enrich) was originally intended for issue 39, depicting the story "The Headhunter of London" but was replaced by a Ken Kelly painting instead which had nothing to do with Vampirella.
  • That the Frankenstein-like cover for issue 44 (another rare cover featuring no Vampirella) was originally intended for Famous Monster of Filmland.

The biggest reason one would want to buy this book is the artwork, so how is it? The artwork reproduction here is beautiful and being able to see these cover paintings in their original form enabled me to notice a lot of things I never did before. Spanish artist Enrich Torres was Vampirella's most prolific cover artist and has the most paintings here, but there are also many by other artists such as Manuel Sanjulian, Frank Frazetta, Ken Kelly and others. There's rarely a cover here that isn't beautiful to look at.

In closing, if you are a fan of the Warren years of Vampirella, and the artists that contributed to the magazine, you should enjoy this book quite a lot.

You can purchase the book (and read a shorter version of this review) here.