Karen Haber Reviews Yoshitaka Amano and James Cawthorn

Yoshitaka Amano: The Illustrated Biography/Beyond the Fantasy, Florent Gorges (Dark Horse 978-1-50670-753-2, $49.99, 336pp, hc) November 2018. Cover by Yoshitaka Amano.

The illustrated biography of Yoshitaka Amano is another hefty, handsome volume, so large that it seems to have required two sub-titles besides its main title. The 335-page retrospective pays homage to the revered Japanese fine artist, il­lustrator, character designer, and scenic and costume designer.

Amano began his remarkable artistic career at age 15. He worked on the anime adaptation of the cartoon series Speed Racer, and went on to create many memorable iconic characters even before going freelance. He illustrated Vampire Hunter D and is especially noted for his commissioned illustrations for the popular video game franchise Final Fantasy. Five-time winner of the Seiun Award, he also won the 1999 Bram Stoker award for his collaboration with Neil Gaiman, Sand­man: The Dream Hunters. He is the recipient of a Dragon Award, Julie Award, Locus Award, and a Hugo nominee. Amano’s influences – Japanese woodblock prints, art nouveau, Western comic books – can be seen throughout his work.

Biographer Florent Gorges takes a comprehen­sive look at both the life and the span of Amano’s prodigious career. With over 400 illustrations, personal photos, and many comments from the artist, the book tracks his artistic journey through a boggling range of illustrations.

Dark Horse has published a beautiful book worthy of any coffee table, with excellent color reproduction, handsome design concept, and glossy paper.

James Cawthorn: The Man and His Art, Maureen Cawthorn Bell (Jayde Design 978-0-9575764-2-1, £35.00, 444pp, tp) August 2018. Cover by James Cawthorn.

In James Cawthorn: The Man and His Art, love is the motivating force behind this book. Maureen Cawthorn Bell has ensured that her multi-talented brother, British illustrator, critic, and author James Cawthorn (1929-2008), will linger on in our memories.

This lovely, self-published, memorial tribute, over 400 pages, will be of interest to British and international science fiction and fantasy fans who are especially interested in the work of Michael Moorcock, which Cawthorn illustrated and with whom the artist collaborated.

Cawthorn was best known as an illustrator, and his work appeared often in New Worlds, the UK’s influential speculative fiction magazine, and on the covers of many books, comics, fanzines, and magazines. His book reviews were featured in New Worlds. Under the pen name Philip James, he collaborated with Moorcock on The Distant Suns, a Jerry Cornelius collaboration. Other col­laborations included a screenplay and a critical book, Fantasy: The 100 Best Books (1988). Cawthorn also published several graphic novels, and many stories and poems, including a brief parody of J.G. Ballard.

Appreciations by Moorcock and Alan Moore open and close the book. The quality of art repro­duction is excellent, and the snowy paper quality is superb. The artwork ranges across the artist’s career, in black-and-white and color. As writer/compiler Maureen Cawthorn Bell comments: “This is a book by a sister about her brother. It does not cover every aspect of his life. It is part biography and part tribute and part my thanks to Jim, who made my life so much more inter­esting and entertaining than it would otherwise have been.”

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

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