1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
C. K. Lidster
- Published on Amazon.com
Katsuya Terada has very few rivals in the world of Japanese illustration and manga. Yoshitaka Amano and Katsuhiro Otomo are likely his equals in terms of influence -- Amano as an illustrator, and Otomo as the mangaka who reordered the sequential art universe with Domu and his masterpiece, Akira. Terada's full-color manga adaptation of the Buddhist classic 'Journey to the West' is the 'Monkey King' referred to in the title, a visually spectacular epic that radically re-imagined it's source material with a sexually-charged irreverence typical of his career.
The 'Dragon Girl' is a reference to one of his more recent paintings, representing his long and prolific career in illustration. His work is populated by demons and corrupted angels, wizards and hybrid monsters, astronauts and intricately rendered spacecraft. Dark fantasy is his wheel-house, but hard-boiled SF is also indebted to his unstained brushes and pens, his freely applied and completely illusory oils, his roughly layered tones of ones and zeroes; he is a true innovator, and was integral to the way digital painting has evolved... his art is often indistinguishable from oils and acrylics. Blowing up his virtual canvas to dimensions that dwarf even the massive scales employed by artists like Chuck Close or Gottfried Helnwein, this allows Terada the ability to apply the tiniest digital brushstrokes to every square centimetre of a work that would translate to a physical size of 10 metres across and 5 metres high, achieving a level of complexity and detail otherwise impossible. But his most impressive technique of the last few years has been to develop a digital painting style that replicates the unpredictable, flawed, and expressionistic qualities of oils.
His aesthetic approach is a fusion of East and West. Terada takes inspiration from the 'Metal Hurlant' generation of European bande dessinee, most notably Moebius, Enki Bilal, Juan Gimenez, Francois Schuiten, and Milo Manara. Some of Japan's greatest artist-illustrators have similar influences, blending Euro-comics with Tezuka-type classic manga, including Otomo, Satoshi Kon, Tsutomu Nihei, and Taiyo Matsumoto. The Euro influence has also led to his Manara-like gift for painting beautiful women. His 'cheesecake' art always employs elements from fantasy and science fiction: half-demon women with grotesque appendages show off their otherwise perfect, naked forms; space-girl astronauts in ridiculously impractical and very revealing spacesuits pose provocatively with phallic rayguns; a stunning young women wearing fuzzy pink kitten-ears and whiskers plays the role of Schrodinger's famous cat, frozen in a quantum super-position, simultaneously 'alive' and 'dead', both possible states scrawled on one of two sticky-notes barely concealing her nipples. His color rendering makes for realistic skin and nearly 3D contours... if you're into that sort of thing. Many are, apparently; they just prefer their women to be imaginary.
Dark Horse has been in the Monograph business for years, and you can always expect to get a beautifully produced volume that is well worth the money. Having published art-books collecting the work of Hiroaki Samura, Yoshitaka Amano and Katsuhiro Otomo, this Terada collection is long over-due, but well worth the wait. At 9" x 12" and 200 pages long, it uses the thick glossy paper you'd expect if not demand, but with a less preferable binding-type. For the price, however, this is a small concession. The books design is excellent, from the cover to the layouts to the endpapers. Just as importantly, it includes a well-written introduction, over 10 pages of annotations and commentary from the editor and Terada, and concludes with an enlightening interview; Dark Horse released the Amano collection 'The Sky' with absolutely nothing in the way of introductions, commentary, or interviews, despite having several hundred pages; the result was an impressive and exhaustive release that felt somewhat empty. DGaMK, in comparison, feels so dense the ink must contain osmium. It is also far superior to the PIE Books monograph 'Ten', an exhibition catalog for the show dedicated to his works of the last decade. I liked it as well, but the tankobon 5.5" x 8.25" format is too small, and only a fraction of the book is full-color. This is the Terada monograph to invest in, for fans and newcomers alike.