© Gary Gianni & King Features Syndicate.
We’ve come to the last of the cool art books I purchased in San Diego. Gary is someone I’ve worked with a number of times, and we always have a good chat or two in San Diego. I consider him a friend, and I’m a big fan of his work. For the last few years he’s been the artist on the Prince Valiant Sunday comics page, which you might not even know still exists unless it’s carried in a paper in your city or town. The strip was begun by Hal Foster, writing and art. After a very long run he handed it off to John Cullen Murphy, who also had a very long run, with his son writing. Gary was asked to occasionally assist Murphy beginning in 2001 as that artist neared the end of his run, and then to take over as artist on the strip completely in 2004. This book is NOT a collection of Prince Valiant strips, though, it’s a book about creating them.
Perhaps the most surprising thing to me about this excellent book is how well written it is. Gary is a fine conversationalist and storyteller in person, but not many people can carry that ability equally well in prose. Gary can and does in this book as he uses language artfully, with grace, humor and humility, to explain the whole Prince Valiant story. Beginning with his own art background, then the strip’s history, and through his involvement with John Cullen Murphy, to complete Gianni art. Lots of process information is here, from using reference and models to pen and brush techniques, laying out panels and pages, storytelling, it’s all explained with many wonderful examples. And even if you’ve seen the strip, you’ll never see it reproduced as well as it is in this fine art book, another top quality product of Flesk Productions, who also did the terrific Steve Rude art book I reviewed here earlier in the year. Some of Gary’s fine lines tend to get lost in reproduction, but every one is in this book. If you like fine graphic art, you’ll enjoy and delight in this volume. Very highly recommended!