A comic review article by: Jason Sacks
You can't ask for a more beautifully produced collection of fantasy art than Malefic--a collection of gothic and science fiction paintings by the Spanish illustrator Luis Royo. NBM has delivered a book of the highest possible quality, one in which every aspect of Royo's extremely detailed artwork is faithfully reproduced.

Royo is one of those sorts of fantasy painters who can depict a female vampire with blood dripping down her lips in one painting, and then depict an angelic woman on a unicorn fighting a vicious dragon in the next. His range of subjects is compelling--and rather fascinating. He's clearly a man who can happily walk through either Hell or Heaven in his images.

While there are some male figures in his artwork, Royo's main subject in these paintings (and accompanying pen-and-ink illustrations) is women--and he depicts some of the most strikingly beautiful women that I've ever seen. For instance, the fairy atop a rat that confronts a cobra on pages 20 and 21 is strikingly exotic and gorgeous--with an inner life and energy that almost seems to make her jump off the page. I don't quite understand why the woman is naked (aside from some furry leg warmers), but that just makes her even more pleasing to behold.

The image of Death that spans pages 49 to 52 is another striking illustration by Royo. His vision of Death is pale and haunted--with eyes that appear to have seen every horror in the world, and hands that look to be as strong as steel traps. The image is made more affecting in that Death is carrying an infant--with the baby's right hand reaching towards Death's shoulder as if hoping for affection that will never come. I found that spooky piece to be oddly moving.

As I mentioned earlier, Royo does depict some men in his work. The duelist on page 72 has an intriguing, roguish face that appears vaguely like that of a James Bond type hero. He is obviously a man who is aware of his own powers--with women as well as in battle--and he carries himself with tremendous confidence.

The details in all of Royo's artwork is gorgeously reproduced--with a perfect depth of field and full range of color palette. Some of these paintings are very complex, and the production staff on this book did an outstanding job with material that had to have been difficult to work with.

If you love perfectly reproduced fantasy illustrations of gorgeous women, then this book is a must-have for you.

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