Holy cow, when I was contacted a couple of weeks back to see if I might be interested in reviewing Insight Edition‘s Fantastic Worlds – the collected work of illustrator William Stout – I had not idea it would be such a massive tome! William Stout has had an amazingly long and fruitful career in the world of comic books, film and television production design, and even has helped plan and create theme park attractions. My love of Stout’s art goes back quite a ways to when I was all of five years old – thanks to his iconic movie poster for Ralph Bakshi’s 1977 animated masterpiece Wizards!
In Ed Leimbacher’s Fantastic Worlds – can something this huge be considered a coffee table book, that doesn’t seem the right description – the Author covers the life and work of William Stout. Naturally that means from the earliest influences on Stout’s style of illustration as well the artist’s love of the classic Universal Monster films, dinosaurs and King Kong.
Stout studied at the Chouinard Art Institute which apparently became CalArts by the time he graduated – amazingly enough at the time as the artist explains it in the book, the animation department at the school had the benefit of some of the animators from Walt Disney. In this case the esteemed ‘Nine Old Men’ who helped work on Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty and so much more. And as William points out, while animation wasn’t his bag – it did lead him though to studying with Harold Kramer. In addition at this time he accepted the position of being a watercolor portrait artist situated in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square – and to add to all of that he worked with companies like Taco Bell, Toyota, and even Mattel. Stout provided artwork used in print advertisements and in the case of 1974’s Heroes in Action – he produced packaging art.
Fantastic Worlds is just chock-full of the sequential artwork of Stout as well as his personal illustrations, from his youth until today. They range in all manner of subjects from John Carter to the likes of those gruesome lore keepers that made up EC Comic’s trio of hosts, the Crypt Keeper, The Old Witch, and The Vault Keeper. As I flipped through each page it seemed like almost every new piece of art I spied – I just wished I could somehow get a print to hang in my house. In particular I was enamored by his trio of covers for the Marvel Comics reprints of March Schultz’s astounding comic book series Xenozoic Tales – although said reprints went under the title Cadillacs and Dinosaurs!
Which is only appropriate as William Stout is easily recognized as one of the best Paleoartists around. And while the artist’s illustrations in prehistoric life are given ample coverage in Fantastic Worlds, you just don’t have to take my word for it on how talented Stout is, because you can check out this short interview with the artist and get a look at some of his work yourself.
[Via] SD Natural History
In Fantastic Worlds you learn about Stout’s design work for record labels, the artist not only worked with Firesign theater but had an impressive run of bootleg album covers in his youth. To say nothing of creating the one-sheet artwork for Roger Corman’s 1979 cult classic Rock ‘N’ Roll High School – you know, the one that just happened to feature the flipping Ramones!
[Via] Shout! Factory
In all honesty, within the pages of Fantastic Worlds I was most blown away by the amount of work that William Stout has done in movies. I thought I had a good grasp on what films he had worked on – not just Wizards and Rock ‘N’ Roll High School but also the late Dan O’Bannon’s comedic horror masterpiece Return of the Living Dead. A film that William Stout provided design work for in regards to the look of many of the undead from that film – including of course the iconic Tar-Man!
That is just the tip of the iceberg though, friends, as you will learn in Fantastic Worlds, William has provided poster artwork, promotional art, storyboards, and concept designs for countless films and television projects. Such as Conan the Barbarian, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Raiders of the Lost Ark, First Blood, House, The Hitcher, and Pan’s Labyrinth to name just a few.
Throughout the book by the way, Stout provides personal anecdotes on the artwork being featured. Which for what it’s worth I can honestly say the artist is a natural raconteur. You see I had the privilege of meeting him back in my early adulthood, when attending my first San Diego Comic-Con. As I’ve already mentioned, my first brush with the art of William Stout was thanks to Wizards and while walking the floor I couldn’t help but notice a sketch sitting on his table featuring Peace and his alien mount. Not only was Stout gracious enough to listen to me go on and on about my experience with that film but as he signed my copy of the sketchbook I had purchased – he flipped through some of the pages and explained his inspiration for those particular pieces.
The great news is that Fantastic Worlds – The Art of William Stout has been released today. With the Holidays fast approaching, I’m not sure I’ve ever had the pleasure to review a book that covered literally everything from comic books to Harry Potter – you can hop on over to Amazon to order a copy for yourself.
In closing, I want to say again how impressed I am with Fantastic Worlds – The Art of William Stout. Now let’s take a trip in time and listen to Stout talk about 1985’s Return of the Living Dead!
[Via] William Forsche
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