Welcome back to Jewels of Apator, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's biweekly column about the intersection of art and the fantastic. Bob Eggleton has created so many book covers, interior art, monster art, and miscellaneous projects that it's hard to keep track of his total output. And that's not even including film work for Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius, The Ant Bully, and the forthcoming Invasia. One constant across all of his projects, though, is a unique tactile sensibility. Eggleton's art has texture. When he paints the Creature from the Black Lagoon, you can feel the wattles. When he paints Godzilla, you can smell his breath. An amazing commitment to detail, along with an understanding or empathy for his subject matter, seems to fuel this ability. For Eggleton, though, this approach didn't come easy.
For years I did this airbrushed stuff...ick...what was I thinking? Nothing in life looks airbrushed. So I dropped that for health reasons (the fumes) and my lungs and breathing got back to normal and I started real painting as in showing more brushwork and not being shy of it. I used to work in acrylics and basically it was like painting with plastic. I decided to make the jump back into oils. And it looks better, and I veered into fantasy heavily and then came back and applied this romantic vision to the SF work. Who wants to see things as they are? We want to see them as we dream them to be.
Use of space is also important to Eggleton:
My paintings deal with scale. It's why I can paint a colossal space-scape and then, Godzilla or something like that. It's all about scale and size. Think about it. I like big things next to little things. The human race is a speck in the universe. But an ant colony is small next to us. Everything is relative to scale. I tend to like to try something different with each job I do.
As for technology, Eggleton's relationship with the modern world is a complicated one:
The American fascination with technology as fashion statement scares the bejeezus out of me. To be honest, not the devices themselves but this need for people to had said devices because they have to feel "up" on things-consumerism. And they have no clue about it...And thanks to technology we have the problems that go with it. People sit at computers and don't get out, they gain weight and have health problems-why actually walk to a store when you can have something delivered after ordering it online? The recent film Wall-E is just fantastic and, eerie in it's ballsy comment about what happens when we leave earth a junkpile, thanks to the Big Box Mart consumerisms, and go off into space and then with technology waiting on us hand and foot, we become fat,couch-bound,calcium deficient blobs!!! If anyone has not seen this film it makes a frightening comment on what is to come, if we don't look out. And you gotta love Pixar for having the cahoonies to put out a kids' dystopian SF film!
Keeping it "old school," Eggleton contributed to a film by Norman England called Invasia. Several of his creature designs (exclusively showcased in the gallery) were created by the same people who "made the suits for several of the last Godzilla films." The idea behind Invasia is to create a 1950s-style film with parasitic creatures invading Japan "via these kind of evil ‘grey' guys and their servant aliens. I was floored when I saw what a cool job Shinichi's shop did with the drawings."
Upcoming for Eggleton is a kids' book called If Dinosaurs Lived in Our Town. He explained:
[It's] written by my wife, and I worked with Cortney Skinner on the art. It's half traditional, half digital aimed at the four-to-eight year-old set. The result of the pieces looks spectacular. This'll be a BIG book next Spring from Sterling/Hollan Publishing and Barnes and Noble. I also have a few other things I am working on that you'll hear about soon. The idea is to keep re-inventing and not falling into a rut or people being able to say ‘Oh he just does...'
See more Eggleton in his online gallery.