Wednesday, November 24, 2010

1970s Fantasy Art: Philippe Druillet

Philippe Druillet is, along with Moebius and Caza, one of the founding visionaries of the movement that took french comics by storm in the 1970s. This movement found its locus in the magazine these artists founded known as Metal Hurlant. The American Heavy Metal magazine was the version of this material that manifested in the States, but Heavy Metal as a magazine lacked the artistic and idealogical vision of its progenitor. Metal Hurlant was about taking comics where they had never been while Heavy Metal seemed caught in an adolescent fascination with the "adult material" it featured. Now I retain a certain fondness for Heavy Metal as it was the first place I ever saw work by Bilal, Moebius, Druillet, and many others, but I also can see its limitations as compared to the creative vitality of Metal Hurlant.

I had largely forgotten about Druillet in particular until several years ago when I stumbled upon a copy of his Lone Sloane/Delirius collection at a used bookstore. This was roughly translated edition put out by Heavy Metal in the mid-seventies, but that didn't matter: my brain was already smashed all over the insides of my skull. The comics in this book were a fever dream of what every Heavy Metal album cover tried to be and failed. Here was the Heaviest Metal of them all.

Few artists have captured the same infernal imaginative ferocity that fills the work of writer's like Lovecraft, Clark Aston Smith, and William Hope Hodgson but Druillet has. His work evokes a demonic universe of howling gargoyles, beastial cyborgs, and satanically designed interstellar warships. Well you don't need me to TELL you. Just look at what this man puts down on paper.

I'm uncertain of the dates of many of these pieces, and Druillet has continued to work up until the present. Its entirely possible that some of these are from the eighties or even later, but I'd argue that his work retains a certain resonance with the decade which birthed D&D.

Here's a youtube video featuring more of his work: