Cool Books to Kick-Start the Year–ImageS, The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens, and Jordi Bernet!

For this being January, a month I typically think of as being slow for new art books, I have been pleased to add a nice stack of new titles to my library.

The first book I would like to mention is the new Black and White Images. This is the fifth collection in the ongoing series, which focuses on “The Golden Era of Pen & Ink Illustration” from 1890-1922. Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. labors over each issue of the color ImageS magazine and these Black and White ImageS specials, to find dynamite art by both popular and forgotten illustrators of the past. Most of the artwork is pulled from his vast private collection.

One thing I find interesting is Jim’s persistence in finding oddball and unique pieces by popular artists. For instance, he often seems to find a few samples of an artist’s earliest works. These may not be the best examples of their art, but they are insightful in that they prove that not everyone is a genius when they start, and that their later magnificent works are a product of much practice and labor. I enjoy these glimpses at an individual’s humble beginnings.

Jim performs a generous service in preserving these master illustrators works in high quality accessible editions. Black and White Images #5 keeps in the tradition of his delving into the past to find exceptional artists. To start with, there is a stunning title page piece by Desfontaines from L’Image#11 from 1897. There are also some beautiful examples by John R. Neil, James Montgomery Flagg, and Will Crawford (reproduced from a batch of originals lent to Jim by Fred Taraba). Furthermore, there is a reprinting of the art for The Haunted House from 1899 by Herbert Railton–a gifted architectural illustrator. There is a Gustave Dore reproduction from an original art photogravure portfolio from 1868 (if you have only seen the terribly poor reproductions in modern paperback books on Dore, this will be a pleasant surprise for you). A nice batch of pieces by Daniel Vierge from L’Image #4, are a welcome addition as well. You will also find Everett Shinn, T.S. Sullivant, and Harry Roundtree and many, many more, that await you in this latest ImageS collection.

To learn more about ImageS, you can visit the official website here. You can order your copy direct from Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., or from Bud’s Art Books.

The next book I want to mention is the new special deluxe Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures by Dave Stevens. This was a dream project for designer, Randy Dahlk (our favorite designer who has handled many of our Flesk titles). Randy has been telling me for years that he wanted to design this book, and when the opportunity arose, IDW editor Scott Dunbier made sure it happened. I couldn’t be happier, not only for Randy to get to design his dream book, but also that IDW put so much energy into it. They did a beautiful job. The exquisite coloring and the oversized deluxe edition with the 100 extra bonus pages in slipcase is a stunning package. I can’t think of any other publisher that would have given this book the all-star treatment that they did. Besides the deluxe edition, there is an affordable trade hardbound edition that contains the complete story. Get them both! Also, you can go to Randy’s “Retro Randy” blog to see design variations for the Rocketeer book cover and read his thought process behind them. You can buy this book from your local comic or book store.

Then there is the new Jordi Bernet book from the Spanish publisher, El Jueves. Bernet: 50 años de viñetas (50 years of drawings) is a huge hardbound collection at nearly 350 pages, measuring 9.5 x 13 in. As the title suggests, it features a wide range of samples of his art over the coarse of his career. Bernet is, without a doubt, one of my favorite black and white contemporary brush artists working in comics. His work is just fabulous. He can jump between humorous cartooning with Clara de Noche, to the grittiest of approaches with Torpedo. His current work on Jonah Hex is my most anticipated comic, with its all too sparse releases featuring his work. I don’t know where you can by the book, but here is the El Jueves website with some details.



John Fleskes
Flesk Publications