When it comes to art books there are two types of buyers: those who are fans of the artist and those who want something to get lost in. Considering you’ll probably purchase this if you’re familiar with John Harris anyway I’ll speak to those looking to get lost. You will.
The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon, (Titan Books)
I read and reviewed the Art of Ian Miller a little over a month ago and was fascinated with the author chiming in and discussing his work. The work in that book was spectacular much like it is here, because really, are they going to publish such a book without it being jaw dropping good? Having read that book I have a good sense of what is good and bad when it comes to these books. I for one wasn’t familiar with John Harris when I opened this book, but then I quickly ran into a famous cover for Enders Game and I was immediately transported to my childhood. The cover below should warrant some sort of fine on the publisher, since they cover so much of it with titles and unnecessary text, but damn is it still captivating.
Way to graffiti your cover!
That’s the thing about John Harris’ work, it’s vivid and real, always playing with gravity and our perceptions of space. His work challenges the reader to comprehend such a scene. This does a number of things to the viewer, not least of which is start spinning tales directly from that image. Hell, the forward, written by John Scalzi, goes into how a cover chosen for his book directed his story. He was in a slump and couldn’t figure out how to continue his story, but when his publisher put the cover in front of him, drawn by John Harris who had obviously not read the book Scalzi was writing, Scalzi was given answers. That’s because he was transported into the scene and things started to click. Harris’ work does that because it’s so captivating and intriguing. There’s always an intensity in the image but also a sense of gloom, doom or wonderment.
A less foreboding piece than ususal.
This book is incredibly comprehensive with a ton of his work on display. There are sections devoted to book covers, a section devoted to commissioned work and a large chunk of work based on an imagined world by Harris himself. These are all the more intriguing as he tells us through text what the world is, how the culture works and what the images represent in a very fleshed out fantasy of his own. It’s a neat way to get inside an artist’s head, who so often just draw, but here we get to see his ideas and they’re quite interesting. Coming from a man who’s painted and drawn science fiction scenes for decades it’s intriguing to see what he came up with.
Now that’s dark and foreboding!
Speaking of text, Harris chimes in speaking to specific pieces or a run of pieces throughout the book. These portions are enlightening as far as where his inspiration was coming from, or what he was trying to accomplish. Sections are broken up between things exploding, to dark eclipses, to his work for NASA which mainly deal with how planets may look from space. While there are pages upon pages without commentary that’s made unnecessary as Harris is so thorough in setting up the art in its sections.
Is It Good?
This is a fantastic read due to the artist spilling key details on what inspired his work. It’s an even more fantastic look at the man’s collection with a great and varying selection to peruse for those who need to get lost in epic science fictions scenes that will capture your wonderment.
Look for the book on Amazon May 27th or wherever books are sold.