Karen Haber Reviews Fantastic Worlds: The Art of William Stout by Ed Leimbacher

Fantastic Worlds: The Art of William Stout, Ed Leimbacher (Insight Editions 978-1-60887-865-9, $75.00, 333pp, hc) November 2018. Cover by William Stout.

From the small to the large: Fantastic Worlds: The Art of William Stout is a great big book offering great big fun in 331 pages filled with colorful and varied artwork. It’s the kind of retrospective that any artist would dream about. The artwork is well reproduced in color and well displayed on thick, glossy paper, with many full-page and two-page spreads.

The book follows Stout’s artistic development in hundreds of black-and-white and color illustra­tions, and features some of his best known, iconic work. It’s a superb comprehensive overview of this multitalented artist’s remarkable, wide-ranging 40-year career in comics, illustration, movies, and murals.

Stout’s versatility could make strong artists weep. His illustration work ranges across genre, medium, and subject, from children’s books, to poster design, to underground comics, to album covers, to movie posters and development, from Jimi Hendrix to The Wizard of Oz. He’s worked on many films, among them Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, and has painted iconic, ac­claimed murals of dinosaurs for the San Diego Museum of Natural History’s prehis­toric life exhibit.

Several double-spread fold-outs are included in this attractively designed book. They include a portfolio of Wizard of Oz characters followed by a double-page spread of The Wicked Witch of the West.

Stout’s ability to convey personality, character, and emotion is never clearer than in his dinosaur work, where the scaly critters are vividly depicted, enlivened by per­sonality. A double foldout of his prehistoric pals is a special treat.

Any fan of this artist – and fantasy art – will want a copy of this handsome retrospective. But be warned – it requires a lot of shelf or coffee table space.

This review and more like it in the August 2019 issue of Locus.

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