Science Fiction/Fantasy Art Book Review

Girl Crazy: The Art of Michal Dutkiewicz

(2004) Michal Dutkiewicz, Fanfare, 11.99, pbk, 112pp, ISBN 0-865-62097-0

Australian Michal Dutkiewicz has been around some 28 years and will be known to comics fans of the late eighties and the nineties from such titles as Innovation's Lost in Space, DC's Batman Forever adaptation (1995) and Marvel comics' graphic novel Wolverine: Doombringer. Those whose eyes rove further afield may have encountered Angel Entertainment's A Girl Called Willow mini-series and, set up in the wake of Penthouse Comix, Hustler Comics' Immorta. Michal's style straddles a borderland between comic art and photo-realism, but most of his subjects are inspired by SF and fantasy themes. Cropping up amid the girlies in this book are the Mekon (from Dan Dare), a Dalek sans shell, the invisible man, a female Adam Strange and a Matrix babe, not to mention the usual crop of jungle girls, barbariennes, winged women, demonesses and other chimerae. Of course there is also plenty of pure cheesecake/glamour pieces.

The fairly lengthy interview with Michal explores his influences (both writers and artists) as well as his favourite comics, films and TV shows, but has less on technique, though much of his work these days is in pencils with digital colouring. Most of the artwork has an element of humour in it, and there are several "nods of the head" to artists as diverse as Wally Wood, Frank Frazetta and Neal Adams (from comics) and Vargas and Gil Elvgren (from the pin-up/good girl side of things). The move slightly away from comics is put down to the fact that comic's wages rarely pay the bills, especially if the publisher demands photo-realism which essentially takes more time for the same amount of money. Though most of the art is very good, it has to be said that very few pieces particularly stand out for any reason and, when they do, it is usually because of the above "nods of the head" or an outright similarity to the work of another artist, for instance, on occasion, Luis Royo.

Tony Chester

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