The Fantasy Art of Oliver Frey Paperback – 13 Apr 2006
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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 Britains 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, Freys 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.
Top customer reviews
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.
All of Frey's major paintings - and many not so well known pieces are included, with large full page images for most. At the end, there is even a helpful section of thumbnail images showing the paintings as they appeared on the various magazine covers.
If you are interested in the UK video games and computer industry in the 80's and 90's, then this is a great buy.
This book comes printed in really nice quality paper and is stuffed full of content. There's small commentary on most of the pictures, though some areas are a bit more detailed. The artwork, much of which is covers from Zzap 64, Crash and Amtixx are reproduced beautifully, and without all the cover adornments like the magazine logo and feature titles.
It's not just covers though, there are parts of the strip "The Terminal Man", which featured in Crash and Zzap, this strip has been reproduced on the net with the authors blessing. There are also images from publications like a stunning 2 page spread showing 19th Century Africa highlighting the Victoria Falls.
In short, if you like your artwork, this book is well worth the price.
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. Produced as a large, glossy page format, I recommend this book to anyone who is familiar with Oliver Frey, anyone who appreciated the artwork of the seventies/eighties, or just anyone who appreciates fine art.
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