I'm biased when it comes to Earl Norem's artwork. He might be my favorite illustrator working in paint. Norem wasn't always my favorite, however. When I was young I always thought his work looked dirty. As in, it looked like dirt from the earth was somehow mixed into his paint. I'm not sure how this effect was created. Was he using a palette covered with old paint corrupting the fresh pigment? Was Mars Black getting mixed into his colors? Was the quality of the acrylic back then not very high? Whatever the cause the result is a tonal atmosphere I can't find in many other illustrators' work. Now that I'm older I love the earthiness of Norem's work. When he paints Conan fighting some demon in a crypt, squaring off against a horde of enemy mercenaries in the desert, the dirt feels a part of the air within the world of the paintings. The images feel more real, at least to the logic of the reality presented within the picture plane.


All artwork by Earl Norem

Benjamin Marra is the creator, writer, and artist of the comics NIGHT BUSINESS, AMERICAN BLOOD, and TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror), all published by Fantagraphics. Acclaimed writer Grant Morrison chose Marra as a collaborator on the first issue of the relaunched HEAVY METAL Magazine. Marra had two serialized webcomic series appear on adultswim.com. His most recent book is JESUSFREAK, written by Joe Casey and published by Image Comics. In 2016, he was named one of the Art Directors Club's Young Guns. He illustrated the cover of American Illustration 35. In 2017, he was nominated for a Grammy Award for his album art of Wayfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmare, a collection of obscure 1970s post-Age-of-Aquarius Heavy Metal.