Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Surfing Samurai Robots


This is ridiculous. That’s what I absolutely love about this piece. It has a comical retro kitsch to it. I was sifting through a mass of science-fiction paperbacks in an old bookstore when I came across this masterpiece of ridiculous.
I looked up the basic premise of the book. Apparently these competing surfing robots (whom are impervious to rust) are being kidnapped and destroyed days before big mecha-surfing competition. The
This sci-fi novel, circa 1988, was illustrated by Dave Dorman, whom is actually a very notable illustrator. He is best known for his Star Wars illustrations but has also done a lot of work with batman, Indiana Jones, and other well-known comics and publications. After looking up his other work this illustration kind of shocked me that it was his. I don’t think it is a particularly bad illustration but it certainly has some flaws. The most bothersome of which, to me, is the woman’s hip. She appears to be the victim of a steamroller accident around the midsection.
I think the technique he used to color it is a reflection of the fads in illustration going on at that point. I’m guessing it’s a combination of watercolor and colored pencils. Most illustrations from that period had the same execution to them and I think that’s part of what plays up the nostalgia for me.
Those things really aren’t what attracted me to this book though. It is the sheer outlandishness of everything that is going on in this cover. From the albino dressed as a 80s swinger Joe Camel to the obviously and confusingly horny robot sporting the tight yellow Speedo checking out the reclined lady, all of this together just makes me laugh. I’m a fan.
(I would also quickly like to point out that robots can’t feel love, especially when stressing about a big surfing competition and a mechanical genocide)


  1. I love that the cover art seems to match the title in terms of its mashed up styles. A house font and a surfing muscle man robot can somehow coexist on the same page. I think that all successful illustrators are a bit weirder than they let on, as evidenced by his experience doing works like Batman and Indiana Jones prior to this wild looking book. You're right about the woman's hip. Her waist looks like it's made of rubber.

    That quote from the Washington Post made me laugh, because it doesn't describe the book really. It sounds more like a tag line Mel Gilden put there.

  2. I'm glad to see that when you re-posted this you did a little digging about the artist. I still think you're missing the point of this illustration. The more realistic something looks the harder it is to be funny with it. This is a satire of the science fiction genre. In science fiction, robots can feel love even in the event of the stress of their looming destruction.(See Blade Runner, Wall-E, Short Circuit, or The Iron Giant for an examples. It's fiction for a reason.)

    Being that this is satirical, one might then deduce that the saturated colors, outlandish looking characters, and warped sense of reality fit together. They are intentional. They also did your job effectively. After all, it did make you laugh.

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  4. I appreciate your dedicated critiques of my blog posts.

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