Out of the Forests...
The Art of Paul Bonner (Hardback)

Author: Paul Bonner
Titan Books
RRP: 19.99, US $29.95, Cdn $36.00
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 705 1
ISBN-10: 1 84576 705 5
Available 23 November 2007

Barely contained within this book is the high octane work of Paul Bonner, an intrepid artist able to vividly recall in paints his visits to Valhalla, the blasted future, and sundry haunted and ravaged stopping off points in between. Here you will find over 150 of Paul's vibrant and compelling full colour paintings, along with numerous character studies and sketches, produced by the artist over the last twenty-five years for the biggest names in fantasy role playing, such as Games Workshop, Mutant Chronicles, Fasa, Riot Minds and Rackham. So, saddle the dragon storm riders, suit up storm troopers, and prepare to have your worlds revealed anew...

Out of the Forests is an impressive collection of some of the highlights of fantasy illustrator Paul Bonner's long and illustrious career. His warped, twisted vision of fantasy worlds is never pretty. Almost all the creatures represented in this volume are grotesque, heinous looking beasts who you really wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. Even the majority of the human illustrations are twisted representations of our race.

But Bonner also injects quite a lot of humour in some of his paintings, and most depict a story that the reader is just dying to unearth. For example in the selection of work for Mutant Chronicles there is a great painting of a gun-wielding muscle-bound guy who is falling down a cliff face holding his dog, while shooting up at an unseen nemesis. Did he jump? Was he pushed? Why is he falling and what will happen to him?

There are few representations of women in this volume. But, in the handful of illustrations in which they are included, you'll be glad to hear that it's not your typical scantily clad variety that Bonner opts to depict - fantasy illustrations are all too rife with that sort of school boy fantasy image these days.

There's also a section on the work that Bonner has tackled based on dinosaurs. This is an interesting section, as it contains the same visual energy depicted in many of his fantasy paintings, while bringing to life real creatures of the past.

If Jim Henson were alive today then I could imagine him working with Bonner to create creatures for future movie projects like The Dark Crystal or Labyrinth, so vividly brought to life is his fantasy world.

This volume will find pride of place in any serious fantasy gamer's book case, and anyone who like nightmarish visions of other worlds will also find much in here to satisfy their whim. Just don't read it alone late at night...

Nick Smithson

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