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The Fabulous Women of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell
Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell, and Anthony & David Palumbo
HarperCollins, 128 pages

The Fabulous Women of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell
Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell
Born in Lima, Peru, Boris Vallejo attended the National School of Fine Arts in his native country before immigrating to the United States in 1964. He has since done a great volume of work for the Fantasy field, having worked for virtually every major publishing house with a science fiction/fantasy line. Boris has also illustrated for album covers, video box art and motion picture advertising.

Born in 1958 in Beaumont, Texas, Julie Bell credits include creating advertising illustrations for clients Nike, Coca-Cola and The Ford Motor Company, book covers for publishers and album covers for artists such as Meat Loaf. She was the first woman ever to paint Conan for Marvel Comics.

They were married in 1994 and work out of their studio in Pennsyvania.

Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

One of the stereotypical images found in fantasy art is of the woman wearing a chain-mail bikini. Often found on the four-color covers of pulp magazines, these damsels, frequently in distress, would be shown chained and awaiting rescue at the arms of some iron-thewed Conan clone. While Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell may be the foremost artists when it comes to depicting women in chain-mail bikinis since Frank Frazetta, their damsels are in anything but distress.

Numerous paintings by both Vallejo and Bell, who are married to each other, appear in the collection The Fabulous Women of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell. As might be imagined, the female form is foremost in all of the selected paintings. Practically all of the women depicted exude strength, occasionally a quiet inner strength, as with the Vallejo painting "Black Unicorn," but more often the sort of strength that just makes you know that this is not a woman to have upset with you, such as the warrior woman in Bell's "Monster Bash."

At the same time there is strength to the women the artists depict, there is also a softness, but not weakness, to many of them. "Mermaid Love," painted by both artists, depicts a mermaid clinging to a sports jersey while Vallejo's "Unicorn and the Maiden" has a sense of innocence to it. Other paintings portray a mix of strength and lightheartedness, such as Vallejo's unused movie poster "The Librarian."

As might be expected, few of the women depicted in these pages are fully clad, most wearing some version of the chain-mail bikini or even less. This allows Bell and Vallejo to fully depict the musculature of their models, as evidenced in the paintings "Piranha" by Vallejo or "Jesse" by Bell. While some paintings, like Bell's "Bitch" revel in the sexuality of the model, others embrace that sexuality, and sensuality, and add a level of hauteur to it, as with Bell's "Cynthia."

While in any book of this nature, the principal reason for reading it is the artwork, it would have been nice if the artists had included more extensive commentary on their work. All of the paintings have a brief note by the artist, usually on the order of a four or five sentence paragraph. Sometimes these deal with the model, or the commission, or the technique, but invariably they leave the reader wanting to know more about the piece. One of the more notable works which begs to have greater explanation is Vallejo's "Suzanne," in which the robo-centaur woman's hindquarters merge with a tree.

The Fabulous Women of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell reproduces the artists' work quite well, with clean and vivid colors, picked out on the high gloss paper to emphasize the detail work. As with all art books of this nature, it is very nice to be able to appreciate art which may, at one time, been partially obscured by authors' names or titles when they appeared as book covers. While painting after painting of women could, in theory, become monotonous, Bell and Vallejo's representations and settings differ enough between paintings that the reader is constantly amazed by the variety of the work presented.

Copyright © 2007 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a five-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings. He is the publisher of ISFiC Press. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.

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