Published on July 13th, 2018 | by Jules-Pierre Malartre0
Review: Lady Death Naughty Artbook
There is something in there for every Lady Death fan. Over the years, a number of artists have contributed covers for the Lady Death comic books. We all have our favorites, and most (if not all) of them are covered in there.
Buying this book sure took me back—back to when I purchased my first skin mag as a teenager. I know, the comparison is a bit crude, but let’s just say that I felt a bit self-conscious and guilty (I was raised in a very conservative Catholic household). I mean, let’s face it: Lady Death is hot. Buying a naughty Lady Death art book is (almost) like buying an issue of Playboy—at least, to those of us who have to come up with an excuse for an overprotective parent or a jealous partner. With Playboy, we always have the excuse of saying, “I’m only buying it for the articles.” And when it comes to Lady Death graphic novels, the story can serve as an even better excuse. But when it comes to this art book, it’s devoid of any text except for the legend on the last page and the few words printed on the back cover… It’s like Coffin Comics wanted to send a wordless message to Lady Death readers: Enjoy! So, let’s be honest with each other. If you’re like me, you’ll be buying this book because Lady Death is hot.
How hot is she? Well, most of the artists featured in this slim art book certainly know how to capture the full essence of Lady Death, at once deadly and sensuous. There isn’t a single illustration that does not appeal, and most truly stand out, which makes the few, less remarkable illustrations out of the forty-seven featured pieces pale in comparison, but every page is still drool worthy.
The binding itself is a beautiful thing: The satin cover stock really feels and looks great. The gorgeous cover art happens to be the work of one of my preferred Lady Death illustrators, Paolo Pantalena. This illustration of pensive (or playful) Lady Death sitting on a throne, with one hand resting on the pommel of a sword that would make Conan envious, and the index of her other hand lightly brushing her brow, is one of my favorites. Pantalena has a gift for drawing Lady Death’s jaw in a squarish fashion that is most feminine and attractive. He also has a way of bringing Lady Death’s hair to life in a way that would make Medusa jealous. His outstanding artwork is also nicely enhanced here with a spot varnish that makes Lady Death’s figure stand out even more. The contrasting effect of Lady Death’s pale varnished skin over the satin matte finish of the background is simply striking, both to the eyes and the touch. I’ve had the book for several weeks, and I still enjoy seeing how the spot varnish catches and reflects the light while the matte background traps it like a black hole. This is a truly beautiful binding design and print job that makes it a shame to shelve the book once you’re done reading it. The binding also seems solid. I can’t tell how long it will stand to regular perusing, but at least it doesn’t seem to be like one of those cheap offset binding jobs where the pages start coming off after a few openings of the book. You’d think good quality printing would be a given on these art books, but if you’ve bought a lot of them, you know that quite a few are cheaply printed and do not stand the test of time very well. Given the relatively cheaper cover price on this one, I’m happily surprised. But then again, I should not, because Coffin Comics usually puts out quality print work.
Another truly impressive feature of this book is its consistent presentation of full-page artworks. I’ve read too many “art books” heavy on background info, history, quotes, etc. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I usually like to read a little something about the art I am looking at. But quite often, artwork end up taking second place to text. And who wants to look at a piece of art that’s printed the size of a playing card while text takes up most of the page? This book is full-page art from the first page to the last. It may not be the thickest art book I’ve ever perused, but the fact that the art is consistently given center spot page after page after page simply makes up for what it lacks in thickness.
There is something in there for every Lady Death fan. Over the years, a number of artists have contributed covers for the Lady Death comic books. We all have our favorites, and most (if not all) of them are covered in there. Richard Ortiz is my second favorite, and his piece for Dragon Wars # 1 – Naughty Majestic Edition greets readers on the first page. (It also appears on the exterior back cover – in a frame, the only place where you’ll see a smaller, framed illustration in this entire book.) To me, no other illustrator captures Lady Death’s figure better than Ortiz. Pantalena and Ortiz contributed a number of other pieces for this book, lucky for me, but as I said, there is probably something for every fan in here. Mike DeBalfo and Dawn McTeigue offer up some of the remaining most striking pieces. And of course, fan favorite Eric Basaldua (Ebas) is also featured. Monte Moore’s cover for Killers #1 – Ecstasy Edition is probably the most evocative for me. It’s straight up the most striking representation of the juxtaposition of sensuousness and death that permeates Lady Death’s persona. It simply oozes slow, measured sex appeal and sensuousness with death’s omnipresence as background.
One of the most interesting things about this book is that it does not even need to be “naughty.” The naughtiness, after all, is limited to nipples peaking through impossibly thin or translucent fabric. Cover up the nipples and the art loses none of its appeal.
In short, Lady Death Naughty! feels like a throwback – in a good way, of course, to those old Boris and Frazetta art books that were just great art, page after page after page. I can never get enough of Lady Death, but even though this book is only a few pages shy of 50 pages, it offers up some of the best cover artwork ever produced for the Lady Death comic books. It may seem a bit pricey at first, but it is well worth the investment. Lastly, my hat off to Coffin Comics for their packaging job that will withstand the abuse of almost any postal service in the world.
Format: 9” x 12”, hardcover
Print run: limited to 2,000 copies
Cover art: Paolo Pantalena (pencils), Ula Mos (color)
Interior art: Richard Ortiz, Mike DeBalfo, Dawn McTeigue, Sabine Rich, Monte Moore, Eric Basaldua (Ebas) and more