Posted on March 2, 2010 by alanajoli
Available at Amazon.com
It makes a lot of sense for a small press like Top Cow, which has a lot of great titles on the market, to put everything together into an art book and showcase some of their best pieces. In The Art of Top Cow preview that I received from the publisher, I got to see thirty images of the more than 300 pages that will appear in the final book. Two of them, unfortunately, were nearly naked images of Sara Pezzini of Witchblade that look more like pinups than gallery images; another is a Top Cow poster that features three of the Top Cow women in all their busty glory. Hopefully those three images are not representative of a large portion of the included art (though certainly part of Top Cow’s target audience will surely appreciate them — just not my part of the market share!). In the preview, some of the pieces are really quite excellent, and I’ll highlight some of them quickly here.
Two images that struck me were, of course, by Stjepan Sejic, whose work on Witchblade I’ve been raving about for several reviews. His cover for Witchblade #116 features Sara and Dani, both in full Witchblade armor, ready to kick some butt. Another of his Witchblade images served as the back cover of the trade paperback, volume 7, and is a great profile of Sara with a broken NYC PD badge behind her. These images use the same hyper-realism that I’ve loved in Sejic’s work in the series, and I’m glad to see it here as well. Some of Sejic’s work also appears in two covers for the series First Born, which appears to be set in the Witchblade universe. Both images feature a full cast of characters ranging from dark to light — many of them somewhat more scantily clad than has been typical in most of the work I’ve noticed of Sejic’s on Witchblade. But the attention to detail and the sense of texture remains excellent, and these pieces are stand-outs among the samples.
Several pieces by David Finch also caught my eye — his style is dramatically different from Sejic’s and from the sort of “typical” super-hero comics style featured in some of the other artwork. With a more painterly flare on what has an almost canvas under-texture, Finch depicts the gritty facial expression of the man I presume is the hero of Universe, alongside a monster from the series. The shading is amazing, as he doesn’t use much in the way of color variety, instead giving the piece an almost sepia tone. Another of Finch’s pieces, this one from Ascention, features a dark-skinned demon with unbelievable muscle definition surrounded by skulls on pikes — the composition is incredibly effective.
David Petersen’s work on a cover variant for Dragon Prince again shows the variety of styles embraced by Top Cow. This image depicts a dragon standing in front of a young boy — we see the child’s back as he looks up at the large dragon, who takes up the majority of the frame. Almost stylized like an illustration from a children’s picture book rather than a comic, it’s a piece of artwork that I’d gladly take out of context and use as computer wallpaper — or an image to hang on the wall. The lack of context doesn’t seem to matter for this piece — it stands beautifully well on its own.
A book like this serves the purpose of trying to get readers interested in other titles by the publisher, and I’d definitely say my interest is piqued. I’d try out Weapon Zero, Arcanum, Dragon Prince, The Necromancer, and Rising Stars (which is represented by a phenomenal cover image with faces in what looks like a nuclear cloud behind a foreground of skeletons) based on the images included in the preview. With another 270-odd pages, I’m sure I’d find other titles I’d want to pick up.
Without seeing the complete book (which I assume is a hardcover and is a coffee-table quality volume) it’s hard to say whether this one is worth purchasing, but it’s definitely something I’d look for in my friendly local comic shop to browse through and see if I’d want to have at home. Since I’m not an art collector, nor a comics collector, it probably would not make the addition to my comic shelf, but I’d love to get a look through the whole thing to see what else Top Cow’s been putting out that I’ve been missing.
Review by Alana Abbott