Monday, February 19, 2007

Alberto Giolitti

Something from my stash of original art. Even though I'm not a fan of this comic book, there's something to look at and learn here.

Alberto Giolitti -- the man who drew the above page -- was an Italian-born comic book artist who did a lot of work for Dell/Western Comics (later Gold Key) for over a generation. The company specialized in licensing comic book versions of Disney movies and Warner Brothers properties.

Gioletti worked on many major titles, and is best remembered here for his work on TUROK, DINOSAUR HUNTER, which was about a couple of Native Americans stranded in a valley with a bunch of dinosaurs. Mr. Gioletti also did the STAR TREK (which is still in print), TWILIGHT ZONE, BORIS KARLOFF comic books, and many Western properties.

He came to America via Buenos Aires in 1949, and worked in the NYC area for about a dozen years before returning to Italy. He continued working for Gold Key while there, and started Gioletti Studios, employing up to 55 artists for a variety of high and low profile properties for international markets. In Italy, he may be best remembered for a comic book titled TEX.

When I was a kid, I was not into his work. I disdained his STAR TREK comics. The bridge didn't look right, for instance. It wasn't until later I found out that he had not seen the series at that point. The show was not available in Italy. Dell comics just mailed him a TREK press kit, expecting him to wing it.

It wasn't until I learned how to use a brush that I rediscovered Gioletti's mastery. This was when I first moved to NYC in 1986.

Above: an issue of Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. It's the #15, from 1955. PRESTON was based on the radio and TV series that was created by the same people who created The Lone Ranger. Gioletti worked on this.

Well, again, I'm not a fan of PRESTON. It's not that I don't like the guy, or his big ol' malamute "King," it's just that I didn't grow up with the show. But I did get a chance to buy some original Giolitti art from this comic book. The art is what's called "LS" or Large Size original art, with dimensions of 14 x 22 inches. Most of today's comic book artist work 5 x 10 inches. Obviously, the larger the size, the more detail.

I bought a couple of originals while I was assisting a comic book artist. (This was back when I thought I might draw superheroes, and wanted to have more original art. I think I bought a couple of pages for $50.) Seeing the page above, it was a personal relief to discover that the ink was not all opaque. It looks watery here and there. The same thing would happen to me -- especially with Higgins ink.

The more I looked at this panel, the more I liked all those little noodly details that Gioletti spent time on -- the same stuff that I didn't like when I was little. Go figure.

Gioletti was a nut for reference, taking photos of people and places. And it shows. Look at that shadow of the dog, just splashed in there. You almost don't see it. So well done. And the detail of him (the dog) looking off panel, keeping an eye out for any danger. Good dog!

The fact that Preston and the old man are walking, each with the opposite foot forward is a nice touch. And those details of the town in the tundra down there, with each building made out of pine planks, looks right. And there's even the nice touch of the Aurora on the horizon. With the shadows on the foreground characters, it helps them "pop" into the foreground, away from the town and mountains.

Above is the printed version. I always liked B&W art better than the color books. The color here seems at odds with the piece. It's too garish -- as most comic book colors back in 1955, when palates were limited. Shrinking the art eliminated the uneven ink problem.

Now, I could go on for a long time about all the other panels -- but I just wanted to talk about the guy and his work -- and celebrate his art, by looking at this one tiny bit, from 52 years ago.

1 comment:

Joe Jusko said...

It is so great to see someone write with such appreciation of Gioletti's work! He is one of my major influences, especially when it comes to composing a scene or rendering a background. NO ONE did better backgrounds than Gioletti! I've been looking for a Gioletti page from this period of his work for the longest time! I am definitely jealous!! :-)