(2004) José del Nido, Fanfare, £15.99, pbk, 112pp, ISBN 0-865-62095-4
Jose del Nido is not particularly well-known in Britain, but throughout Europe, especially in his native Spain and also in Germany, he is known as one of the premiere artists for fantasy covers. Sort of the Chris Foss of Euro-fantasy; that level of 'being known' at any rate. He has worked for Bastei (Germany), Euraeditoriale (Italy) and Ediciones B, Suma de Letras, and Columna (Spain) all on the covers for various series such as Vampira, Skorpio, Fantasville and Panic, and for other European publishers like Editorial Planeta and Ultramar, among others. He has also worked in advertising for companies like Nestlé and has worked on projects for Enciclopedia Activa Informática. His work graces the covers of many fantasy books published by Spanish company Norma Editorial, distributed all over Europe, and he has even created works for Argentina. Del Nido was born in Cornellà, just outside of Barcelona in 1959. When he was just 21 his work started appearing in local fanzines and soon he was contributing illustrations to various advertising campaigns. Very soon thereafter Norma Editorial began publishing him and, as the saying goes, he never looked back. Del Nido is a photo-realist and his compositions remind you forcefully of Boris Vallejo, and that whole side of fantasy artwork - women in brass nipple-caps with monsters, swords and the like. Most of the art is digital and his favourite software programme is Painter which allows the use of Oil, acrylic, airbrush, digital and conventional colours.
And use them he does! Reds and blues, greens and yellows, purples and oranges, this guy loves his colours. Even the ''darker'', more horrific pictures are about clusters of colours and shapes, rather than the shadows of chiaroscuro-kitsch. Though the subjects are all well-known - vampires, big lizards, winged women and creatures, etc., - del Nido brings them to a sort of vividness that makes the image come alive so that the subjects look less posed as arrested in action. Probably lost in translation are the meanings of the cryptic footnotes to each piece, but they really rather speak for themselves anyway. Among my favourites there's the eerily green 'The Embrace of the Dead' (In the arms of the dead rests the lady with the Evil pendant) with suitably moist corpses; 'Witness' in which a nightie-clad lady observes rats de-fleshing what looks like a sabre-tooth skull (Only the prisoner is witness to the event); the moon-glow blue 'Entrance of the Temple'; in 'Allies' a woman stand in front of a massive winged demon (With this alliance the world of night will have the power to rule the Armies of Empty Souls); and the heavily-armed bike-babe of 'Destruction' looking Alice Cooper-like is like a Meatloaf cover that never was (Devilish machines and Asphalt Riders try to escape from the cities, which were destroyed by the greed of the rulers). If you like Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell and that ilk, but prefer a little more horror mixed in with your fantasy, then del Nido is highly recommended.
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