Tuesday, August 11, 2015
SKETCHY THINGS reviewed
Then there is the field of what is called "fan art" - art that is produced without a professional goal, though very often with professional chops. It sometimes appears in fan magazines and is sold from tables at conventions. The dean of such work, certainly where the world of monsters is concerned, is Frank Dietz, whose restless and varied professional career has included stints as a film director, actor, Disney animator and award-winning documentarian. Frank is accomplished at any number of things, but he is beloved for his Rondo Award-winning fan art - pencil drawings, charcoals and acrylic paintings that are now proudly collected in an irresistible softcover compendium entitled SKETCHY THINGS: THE ART OF FRANK DIETZ (sketchythingsart.com, $50.00).
Dietz's art is remarkable for its own innate restlessness, encompassing and lampoons, as well as some portraits of stunning sobriety and profundity. And then there are the occasional pieces, the real pinnacles of this book, in which all of his available styles come home to roost. His Edgar Allan Poe is done in his cartoon style, ever so slightly heightened with limnings of realism, and he stares back at you, somewhat lopsidedly as was his want, with such clarity you can almost read the insolent thought at the back of his mind and the fears foregrounding it. Equally impressive is his rendering of Roddy McDowall as Caesar in CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, where his love for the film, for the actor, for the performance, for animals and matinees invite the eye to linger over its layers and layers of textured devotion.
It's not all horror and sf-related art. The most ambitious piece in the book is a mind-boggling panorama entitled "The Last Call," which depicts several dozen memorable Western stars from film and television, in costume, scattered around the tavern from the John Wayne feature THE SHOOTIST. Set aside a good half hour to fully appreciate everything buried in it, and then begin to ponder the months of work that must have gone into its creation.
There are any number of books about the genre that have more to say, but few books about the cinema of imagination are as articulate, affectionate and altogether stimulating as SKETCHY THINGS.
Posted by Tim Lucas at Tuesday, August 11, 2015