As I roam the streets of Sheffield, people often say to me, "Steve, with your knowledge of the visual arts, you're like Sheffield's answer to Brian Sewell."
And I say, "What? the bloke from UFO? I'm sure he was great but, frankly, I'd rather be Ed Bishop."
"No, you great steaming fool!" they say. "Not George Sewell. Brian Sewell, the renowned art critic and vowel mangler."
"That's all lovely," I tell them, "but I'd still rather be Ed Bishop. Does Brian Sewell have a secret underground base full of unlikely equipment for fighting aliens? Well? Does he? Does he?"
Apparently he does.
Still, being Sheffield's answer to Brian Sewell gives me all the excuse I need to climb onto the roof with my bazooka and take a pot-shot at the flying saucer of Art Appreciation.
And I'll start with the cover to Marvel UK's Planet of the Apes #2.
After issue #1's beautifully painted cover [right], I was at the time hugely disappointed by it. It just seemed like a return to the second-rate covers Marvel UK habitually inflicted on us.
Nowadays I think it's great. Granted the draftsmanship's not what you'd call sophisticated but the actual composition's pleasingly dynamic, with the apes' heads rising above the horizon, their varying heights fitting in nicely with the curve of the logo but also breaking through it to exacerbate the sense of three-dimensionality created by having the crouching humans on a different plane in front of them.
The line of apes plays a nice trick on the subconscious. Obviously, we know it's a group of separate apes but, having them in a line as they make their way across the page, creates a subliminal impression of a single ape caught in a string of snapshots as it crosses the cover, creating a sense of movement in a static image.
I also like the red sky - and the presence of a low sun; a homage, I assume, to the opening titles of the TV show which featured a gorilla with raised rifle silhouetted by the burning sun.
At the time, I thought the ape in the lead bore a remarkable resemblance to Nationwide presenter Michael Barratt. Sadly, nowadays, the resemblance is lost on me.
More happily, none of them ever reminded me of his co-host Sue Lawley.
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