Fables Covers: The Art of James Jean

James Jean is the kind of illustrator that I only ever dreamed of becoming when I was younger. With an exemplary draughtsman’s skill, a nod to early 20th century American illustrators and a designers eye in use of colour composition and new technology, this book is a great start to see some of his beautiful work. His lavish covers for the Vertigo comic book series, “Fables,” that he has produced monthly for the last eight years are always eye catching and it’s great to see them all gathered here in one place.

The great thing about the book is that on one side you get part of the process he uses to get to the finished product such as preliminary sketches and drawings. My only complaint would be that Jean does some commentary on his covers for the trade paperbacks of the series, but he doesn’t do any commentary on the individual covers, and an interview at the back by Fables writer Bill Willingham with Jean does little to draw out the character of the individual behind the work (Jean comes across as a very humble artist, it seem he prefers to let the work speak for itself. That said, the work is so beautiful, perhaps it is enough on it’s own.

The unfortunate thing is that this volume is not easy to come by in Australia, I ordered mine for an arm and a leg through my local comic book shop, your best bet may be ordering through Amazon, even with the exchange rate and cost of postage.

James also runs a blog called Process Recess which always features fascinating looks at how he goes about producing his illustrations, not only for The Fables covers, but other commercial and private work as well.