Non-Fiction Science Fiction/Fantasy Art Book Review


The Beast Within

(2007) Ken Barr, SQP/Fanfare UK, 7.50, $14.95, pbk album, 48pp, ISBN 978-0-86562-156-5

Not to be confused with the 1994 Comics Images trading card set of Barr's work, which was also called "The Beast Within", this lovely book showcases his sf, fantasy, horror and superhero work from the mid-sixties onwards. Born in Glasgow in 1933, Barr's career began doing covers for the the DC Thompson produced digest-sized war comic Commando, before moving to the US and finding work doing covers for the reknowned Warren magazines Creepy and Eerie. He also started a long association with editor and publisher Sal Quartuccio, providing some iconic covers to Phase and Hot Stuf (sic). Probably his greatest exposure, and the place where I first encountered his work, was doing covers for various Marvel magazines including The Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu, The Rampaging Hulk, Doc Savage, Planet of the Apes and Marvel Preview (featuring the likes of Thor and Starlord). Barr also provided interior art for DC Comics' G.I. Combat and Star-Spangled War Stories, film posters for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, The Terminal Man and Wind and the Lion, illustrations for Star Wars and Star Trek and, a personal project, a completely illustrated version of Bram Stoker's Dracula (Ken is an honourary life member of the Dracula Society of London).

In this book of (mostly) full page illustrations the reader will encounter many general SF and fantasy subjects as well as the original Star Trek crew, Doc Savage, a werewolf, a couple of beautiful Frankenstein pieces, about four pictures from the Dracula project, the legendary wraparound cover to Phase (Arthur and knights battling demons), Sherlock Holmes (and the Hound of the Baskervilles), the Hulk and Prince Namor, Starlord, Blade and Moebius the vampire, four covers from Planet of the Apes, and some of his Dan Dare work for the early-eighties' relaunched Eagle. The only criticism I have of this book is that it does not provide an index for the images, so it is impossible to identify where some of them came from or, indeed, when they were produced, but that's a minor caveat when one is busy adoring the brightly coloured pictures. Recommended.

Tony Chester


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