Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Art of Ian Miller


US $34.95 ($25.24 at Amazon)
160 pages

The Art of Ian Miller is a collection of Ian Miller's artwork stretching over a long period of time and includes over 300 pieces. It includes both color and black and white artwork. A quick way to get a glimpse of what's inside, is to do a google search like this one.

I can't tell you when I first encountered the art of Ian Miller. I know that it was either through the books of Steve Jackson's Sorcery, the tabletop game Warhammer, or reprints of H. P. Lovecraft's work that I found in used book stores. In my mind, I associate Ian Miller with imagery of 80s Warhammer and the chaos gods in particular.

The book starts off with an introduction by Brian Sibley before getting into the work itself. Broken up into different sections, some much smaller than others, it includes the following:

Maelstrom: A collection of images inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's story, "A Descent into the Maelstrom." This section is black and white.

Dragons: Ah, Ian Miller doing dragons. Some of these are images that hail from the Tolkein Bestiary. I found that fascinating as I don't associate Ian Miller with Tolkein, as opposed to say, Games Workshop. This includes black and white, as well as pen work in red and other colors.  The double page spread of what appears to be a phoenix surrounded by dragons is in full rich color and rewards multiple viewings with its numerous intricate details. 

Men, Monsters & Machines: A collection of a variety of pieces, many of them that look like they came straight from Warhammer. I say this because of the odd faces, leering and snarling on shields and helms.  There are a variety of styles here ranging from pen and ink to full color, including more work for the Lord of the Rings animation. 

Castles & Kingdoms: One of Ian's favorites is apparently the old Gormenghast Novels and he has several works of his take on the castles, as well as Arkham, the fictional city in Massachusetts. Another bit that comes through, is work he did for an animated feature by Ralph Bakshi called Wizards. Another bit that intrigued me as I knew nothing of Ian's involvement with Ralp or Wizards up to this point.

Dreams & Nightmares: To be honest, I'm a little confused as to what makes a piece fall into Dreams & Nightmares as opposed to Men, Monsters & Machines. Is it more of a dream like state? More of a "Well...", a gut feeling if you well? 

One of the problems is that for the double page spreads, the art doesn't handle it well because of the immense detail that Ian brings to his work. For example, the double page spread of Cthulhu on page 48-49? There's quite a bit not necessarily lost, but the flow is immensely interrupted.

Another problem? Despite the size of the book at 9.3 x 12.5, it's too small. This is because Ian is relentless in his use of lines for detail. You could easily have this book at twice the size and still spend hours studying one picture. His use of repetition and patterns is everywhere. 

For under $30, under $26 if you use the Amazon link, the art of Ian Miller can be yours to study.

For those already familiar with Ian, do you have a particular favorite? For those who already own it, any illustrations that are you quintessential Ian that are missing?