Monday, October 6, 2008

Pulp Fantasy Gallery: John Carter of Mars

It's true: Barsoom doesn't have to look like a Frank Frazetta painting; it could look like the cover of a book published in 1912.

This is in fact one of my favorite illustrations of Dejah Thoris. I'd certainly be happy if Pixar decided to go with retro esthetics in their upcoming movie. John Carter is, after all, supposed to be a Civil War veteran, so it'd only make sense if the whole thing had a pre-Great War look to it.

Yes, yes, I know: there's about as much chance of that as Flash Gordon ever again being portrayed as a professional polo player, but a guy can dream, right?

10 comments:

  1. It's a really evocative illustration to me with a little Klimt/Fellini (?) feel. Who is the author?

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  2. The illustrator is someone called F.E. Schoonover, who seems to have done lots of art for Western novels around the turn of the century.

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  3. "The Incomparable Dejah Thoris!"
    Yeah, that looks great - she kind of reminds me of one of Gustav Klimt's paintings.

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  4. she kind of reminds me of one of Gustav Klimt's paintings.

    She does and I think that's part of the appeal (being an admirer of Klimt). I also think this vision of Dejah Thoris genuinely does look exotic, because the underlying esthetics is very different than the popularized vision of what it means to be "exotic."

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  5. That was exactly what "exotic" meant in orientalist art in 1912, however: either odalisque or shrinking violet. Either way (breasts exposed or guarded) you got sensuous drapery.

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  6. I like this. And honestly, I'm not convinced that this ISN'T the aesthetic Pixar will go for. We know that they haven't got a problem with going retro. Look at the Incredibles, it's got a neat little 60s-70s vibe to it.

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  7. That was exactly what "exotic" meant in orientalist art in 1912, however: either odalisque or shrinking violet.

    That makes sense. Sword & Planet stories are generally just Orientalist tales in fancy dress.

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  8. And honestly, I'm not convinced that this ISN'T the aesthetic Pixar will go for.

    Well, we can hope, I suppose.

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  9. Sadly, I think a Klimt-styled movie is unlikely to come out of anywhere but an independent Polish animation house, the like of which we don't see much any more. I would so pay to see a Mucha-styled animated film, but I very much doubt that Pixar would make it: their art style, from Toy Story to Ratatouille, has been pretty consistent; their rendering engine is built around a very particular kind of realism, and I don't expect that to change any time soon. The characters will be vaguely bulbous, the lighting will be mostly flood-filled and strong silhouettes will dominate. That said, I can see a Batman/John Carter working just fine, and I bet my kids will want to dress up as Tars Tarkas the following Halloween.

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  10. The illustration is beautiful and superb, but unfortunately it bears no relation to any garb either Dejah Thoris or John Carter are described as actually wearing anywhere in the text of the book it serves as cover....

    not that any animated feature is likely to represent them as wearing nothing but weapon tackle and jewelry, either.

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