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The Fantasy Art of Oliver Frey [Paperback]

Roger Kean
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 April 2006
Oliver Frey is one of the most important artists working in the medium of commercial illustration. This lavish book documents his work between 1970 and today. The prime focus is on his staggering output in the 1980s and early 1990s when, as a director of magazine publisher Newsfield Ltd., he produced hundreds of magazine covers, software games inlays and incidental illustrations that set the video games market alight internationally. Frey’s early history reveals his work on some of Britain’s greatest comic institutions such as the Fleetway War Picture Library, Dan Dare in Eagle, and The Trigan Empire in Look & Learn, as well as his celebrated 1930s-style opening sequence for the film Superman, The Movie. The book also throws light on Frey’s techniques, from line-and-wash to the airbrush, and more recently his computer-generated work. While the paintings will be familiar to many magazine readers, few will have ever seen the originals as beautifully reproduced as this, and free of the commercial sales lines and slogans that cluttered them as magazine covers and posters.

Famous artwork reproduced as it has never been seen before.

Contents divided into topic-specific sections.

Commentary on the paintings by the artist.

Art techniques revealed and discussed.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Thalamus Publishing (13 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1902886062
  • ISBN-13: 978-1902886060
  • Product Dimensions: 27.6 x 23 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 784,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Roger Kean (also Roger M. Kean) has been writing for many years, but only in the past four as an author of published fiction. He has written five action tales based on a core of late-Victorian adventures, available as eBooks and in print. He also writes gay fiction, the first, FELIXITATIONS was one of the Books of the Month at Goodreads.com in July 2012. His second, a rip-roaring tale set during the Second Punic War and called "THUNDERBOLT - TORN ENEMY OF ROME" received some rave reviews, one of which ended: "Thunderbolt - Torn Enemy of Rome is the best historical romance I have ever read. It has the most real history and the most real love."

The third of his gay-themed novels, A LIFE APART, set during the religious war of the Mahdi in the Sudan during the late Victorian period, was a Book of the Month at Goodreads.com in March 2013. Author Gerry Burnie called it, "Superb writing, refreshing break-through plot, and bang-on history."

Having spent a stint at Hornsey College of Art studying painting, Kean attended the London Film School, where he began writing film scripts and his first attempts at full-scale novels. For eight years he edited film documentaries for the BBC before moving into full-time journalism. In the 1980s, as co-founder of magazine publisher Newsfield, he created and edited the best-selling CRASH magazine for the Spectrum home computer and then ZZAP!64 for the Commodore 64. Since then, Kean has authored several history reference titles, including the well-reviewed THE COMPLETE CHRONICLE OF THE EMPERORS OF ROME. Now he spends his time inventing new scenarios to populate with characters from the imagination. Kean lives with his partner in the medieval town of Ludlow, Shropshire, England.

Product Description

From the Author

Oliver Frey is uncomfortable with being referred to as an ‘artist’. He calls himself a ‘commercial illustrator’; yet despite the modesty of the term he has entertained and often inspired generations with his unique vision of the world. His prolific output is definitely of a fantastic nature although the imagery is almost always bound to a sense of reality.

My involvement with Oliver has been a long and rewarding one, and continues to be so. I first met him in January 1969 when we were both starting a two-year course at the London Film School, and we have worked together in one capacity or another ever since.

Since I have been a witness to and a participant in many of the events described in this book, it is inevitable that my presence hovers above the text. However, I am uncomfortable at mentioning myself in the first person because I feel it intrudes on the narrative, and for this reason on the occasions my presence crops up, I have referred to myself in the third person.

Over the years, Oliver Frey has gained a huge and appreciative fan base – which knows him familiarly as ‘Oli’ – and yet, because he is first and foremost a commercial artist, much of his most exciting work, especially for magazine covers, has been designed for and defaced by the blather of ‘cover lines’ selling the contents. Few people will ever have seen the unadulterated originals without them; surely the only excuse needed for this book?

From the Inside Flap

Oliver Frey is one of the most important artists working in the medium of commercial illustration. Frey worked on some of Britain’s greatest comic institutions – the Fleetway War Picture Library, Dan Dare in Eagle, and The Trigan Empire in Look & Learn, as well as his celebrated 1930s-style opening sequence for the film Superman, The Movie. For a whole generation of boys, Frey’s extraordinary artwork expressed the exuberance and sheer excitement of the games they played. But it came to mean more, eventually defining the whole European videogame movement. This lavish book – a must for every collector of graphic art – documents his work between the 1970s and today. The prime focus is on his staggering output in the 1980s and early 1990s when he produced hundreds of computer game magazine covers, software games inlays and incidental illustrations that set the international video games market alight. While the paintings will be familiar to many magazine readers, few will have ever seen the originals as beautifully reproduced as this, and free of the commercial sales lines and slogans that cluttered them as magazine covers.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Early in 1983, Oliver Frey's younger brother Franco visited him at his Shropshire home in Ludlow and showed him a new toy. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a nostalgia trip! 25 April 2006
Format:Paperback
Growing up in the 80's was fab for me. I saw and experienced the beginning of the home computer boom. From 1983 when I was only 12 and just starting secondary school to present day I have been a massive games player and am now heavily into the "retro scene". Every month I would anxiously wait on the next edition of Crash! and then when I changed my allegiances, ZZapp64 and every month I remember gawping at the amazing cover artwork produced by the now legendary Oliver Frey. I was also into art and could only dream of being THAT GOOD. This book is gorgeous! Nothing short of that. To see Oliver's paintings, devoid of the garish clutter that adorned the magazines is breathtaking and a massive trip down memory lane. I also enjoyed seeing many unfamiliar paintings and have literally spent hours going through it (and boring my wife with memories of the 80's while pointing at a picture in the book - lol). If you are a fan of Oliver's - this book is a must. If you are into the retro scene - this book is a must. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning tribute to a wonderful artist 26 April 2006
Format:Paperback
Anyone who grew up in the 1980s and played videogames would undoubtedly have been aware of Oliver Frey's artwork, which graced classic games magazines, such as Crash and Zzap!64. His sumptuous airbrush illustrations were a massive differentiator for Newsfield's magazines, and many people used to cut out and frame his work, such was its quality.

Although magazine covers fade, memories are harder to shake, and so this book has been created, celebrating the life and work of Frey. From his early work with Fleetway to his time at Newsfield, dozens of pieces of artwork are presented in all their glory, without coverlines and logos (although a small gallery of the magazine covers is also included at the end of the book, for comparison's sake).

Kean's writing is succinct, but insightful, providing a glimpse into Frey's working methods, and charting his history. It's the art that shines, though, and anyone who fondly remembers Frey's art should pick up a copy of this book immediately.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great artists of the 70's/80's 22 Jun 2010
By Bryan VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As an artist myself (who has published work under the pseudonym BML) I was saddened to see how Roger Kean, who was very influential in the gay publishing market of the seventies, was rather dismissive of Oliver Frey's erotic artwork during the same period. He comments that the book is not the place to describe his artwork of this period though he does mention posters created for the London nightclub, Heaven, and it's Cellar Bar, a popular haunt for leather-clad men. Personally, I was influenced by the artwork of Tom of Finland, Mark and Oliver Frey and owe them a great debt in my study of the male form in pose and connection.
Oliver Frey illustrated for Him gay magazine primarily during the seventies as well as spin-off gay magazines like Man To Man, where he illustrated erotic comic strips and Him Gay Library (published by Street Level Limited) in the eighties. Possibly the most famous character Oliver Frey is associated with is Rogue, whose erotic adventures appeared in Gay Monthly and were collected, in part, in one volume in 1981 entitled Rogue - The Collected Stories (occasionally available through sellers on Amazon). With so many inoffensive illustrations available throughout this important period of Oliver Frey's career, I am sure Roger Kean could easily have included some artwork to use as perspective against his later pieces for Crash magazine. As a matter of interest, some of Oliver Frey's erotic comic strips have been collected and will be published in a 96-page paperback volume later in 2010 as Bike Boy by Zack and published by Bruno Gmunder Verlag GmbH.
With all this gripe aside, Roger Kean's book on Oliver Frey's artwork is extremely well presented and makes interesting reading. It is divided up into sections and the boyish illustrations reflect back to earlier artwork.
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