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Book Review: Malefic by Luis Royo

# Genre: Art
# Hardcover: 128 pages
# Publisher: NBM Publishing, Inc.
# Publication Date: January 1, 2010
# ISBN-10: 1561635723
# ISBN-13: 978-1561635726
# Artist Page: Luis Royo

Luis Royo’s full-color image collection Malefic, now re-released and remastered by NBM publishing, is a study in juxtaposition. The striking, partially nude women that first draw the eye are usually hiding the more malicious imaginings behind them. The innocent faces that ask you to trust them hide dark designs in the minds behind them.

Few of the works in this collection depict men. “Dorsai I”, “Corralled by Sweat”, “The First Duelist”, “Legend of the Duelist” and “The Summoning” are the only prominent male figures in the 41 named images collected. There are also two group shots, “Shadowrun” (title misspelled on the page, but correct in the footnotes) and “Mists of Betrayal” – in which no figure is prominently featured. Finally, there is one image “2041” that contains a woman and man on equal footing. The rest are all of women.

Most of the female figures are standing in one of two positions. Either they are standing in a provocative pose, or standing in a place of power. There are some few that have a more innocent stance, but the works all give the feeling of either sexuality or authority. Many of the women also exude a kind of evil, or at least a familiarity with darkness, most in keeping with the title of the collection.

The majority of the images are fantasy – dragons and unicorns – but also a couple more in keeping with paranormal or urban style fantasy. The other few are pure science fiction – spaceships, lasers and robots. There is also one depiction of comic book superhero Batgirl in “Black Flights”.

The works, complete and often accompanied with some of the initial drawings that led to the finished piece, are hauntingly beautiful. Some argument could be made that the works are sexist and unrealistic (in terms of body form). I found that the celebrated the female form, and although there were times Royo could have done that without so much sexualizing of the women he depicted; he certainly creates images that will grab the eye. Since several of these particular works served as book covers, they did the job they were designed for in spades.

Each image is also accompanied by some poetic text, giving you a tantalizing glimpse into how the image should be approached, but not defining it or making it rigid. It gives context to what you see, but does not box it in, and reading the text with the image gives each much more depth and complexity than an initial glance could possibly give.

Since Malefic is nearly twenty years old, almost continuously in print, it would do new and aspiring artists good to view a copy. The poetry and power of the images depicted are timeless in their quality and the dark subject matter resonates in this age of Twilight. If you enjoy a fantasy art, this is one of better, stronger collections by an individual artist, and well worth the price tag for learners and appreciators alike.