1000 Heads: the book

1000 heads, my illustration book

Inspiring books for the creative type


Frank Espinosa's Rocketo

Rocketo is an outstanding comic series by Frank Espinosa. I was hooked since I first previewed it in his website, but I have waited to purchase it until the compilation of the first six stories has been issued in a single volume by Image comics this year.

In these days when most comic artists are lookalikes from each other, Frank Espinosa is a refreshing and captivating singularity. His Rocketo is a very special comic that owes its delightful look to a mix of influences, better summarized by the introduction written by Alex Ross:

“A wonderful hybrid style, combining the best figure modeling of animated feature films and the more liberated expressionist line of european comics. With resemblance to the classic comic strips of Chester Gould and Alex Raymond to the kinetic energy of Jack Kirby’s work, Frank’s style trascends the ages of the comic book.”
The fluidity of the brushwork accounts for the hand of a great artist who is able to suggest the characters and the scenery rather than depict them in detail, with the minimal strokes and just the most tasteful and elegantly subdued touches of colour.

I haven’t investigated it yet, but I would say that while the ink seems to be the real stuff (you know, this black liquid called india ink on sheets of paper), the minimalistic colour looks like digital to me. In any case, it’s a great chromatic treatment. Most digitally coloured comics (which is to say, almost everything being published nowadays) are full of photoshop mannerisms and lack subtility, but very few of these flaws are apparent in Rocketo.

Lettering is unobstrusive and done in the style of classic superhero comics, with lots of boldened words in most ballons for emphasis. However, the sound effects are rather ordinary lettering: this is one of the few things that actually could be improved in this masterpiece.

Rocketo is a comic which everybody should find enjoyable. While the most serious aficionados and art-oriented readers will appreciate the exquisite artwork, younger and casual readers will enjoy the sheer pleasure of the adventures told in the series. Rocketo has to become a true classic, an addictive collection you will keep as a treasure.

You can get the First Volume, compiling the first six numbers; the Volume 2 will be published in the spring of 2007 but it can be preordered already. You can use these links and buy it at a very attractive price from Amazon.


Alan Fletcher (1931-2006): exhibition in London

The british designer Alan Fletcher, who passed away recently, is the object of a retrospective exhibition in London at the Design Museum, Fifty years of graphic work (and play).

If you are even remotely interested in graphic design, creativity, advertising and the power of imagination, and by any chance you are visiting London before the 18th of february, you must not miss this exhibition.

Read more about Alan Fletcher in this profile page, the exhibition presentation and this thread in Design Observer.

If you still don’t have his books in your design library, they are still available; both The art of looking sideways and Beware wet paint are absolutely essential reading. The art of looking sideways, particularly, is a monumental work which is very hard to summarise: it contains almost anything you could ever think about inspiration, imagination, wit and creativity.

Fletcher’s last book, published this year, is Picturing and poeting. Filled with his most recent creative work, the book is an eye-catching and mind-teasing collection of visual games, doodles, graphic objects, drawings, typographic collage and quotations. Filled with almost 300 color images, is a wonderful, witty take on how to think visually and will be a source of inspiration for designers or anybody who works the arts or advertising.

Quick links to Fletcher’s books:


Saturday evening by the sea

I painted this small acrylic on canvas on a plein-air painting event this summer: a quick painting contest by the sea in the Palma harbour. You had, if I remember well, two hours to complete the painting. I joined in with a friend to have some fun together, although I seldom paint real landscapes these days. This is actually an imaginary painting, with some hints of seaside, marine light and sails, but otherwise it is completely abstract. I’ve found that when I decide to paint or draw something that isn’t my usual stuff I let myself go and I end up enjoying it even more.


Surprise instant Mask!

A free and unexpected facial mask! There was an activist group who used to try this time-honored technique on famous leaders. I can remember Bill Gates being given the treatment.
This is what has come to my mind first for this week’s Illustration Friday theme. The base drawing comes from my Absurdies series, with some colours freshly added for this special image.
You can click the image to see a bigger version.
It would be a good complement to find some cream-pie hitting movies! I'll try a search on Youtube or something similar and add the links here...

As promised: some good pie-in-the-face links:


500ml Brushes

For Photoshop users, the nice people at 500ml Brushes offers a variety of original and free Photoshop Brushes and Stock Photography (linkware). Some pretty and unusual brushes there.


Gregory Blackstock's Collections

Gregory Blackstock is the very peculiar illustrator of Blackstock's Collections: The Drawings of An Artistic Savant, released recently by Princeton Architectural Press.

Seattle artist Gregory Blackstock catalogues a wide range of subjects (ranging from state birds to state prisons, tools to WWII bombers, and mackerel to Boeing jet liners and freight trains to insects) on varying sizes of paper. Using ink, pencil, marker, and crayola, his drawings —made from memory— are laid out in neat rows and columns, each item annotated in near obsessive detail.

Gregory Blackstock is an autistic savant, and has overcome many of the limitations of autism, retiring in 2001 after "25 1/3" years of work as a pot washer at the Washington Athletic Club (WAC). Gregory exhibits many of the remarkable traits of the autistic savant; he speaks many languages, is an incredible mimic, and is able to recall events with uncanny precision. In 1986, he began to create his drawings for the WAC monthly newsletter, which each month would feature one of Gregory's new drawings.

His originals can be purchased from the Garde Rail gallery. This text has been quoted from a recent exhibition there.


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Quotes on design

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