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For over 50 years, the internationally recognized paintings of Greg and Tim Hildebrandt have brought to life some of the most iconic fantasy and sci-fi properties in all of fandom, from their original Star Wars theatrical one-sheets and annual J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings calendars in the late '70s, to memorable artworks in children's books, fantasy calendars, novel covers, comics, movie posters, Hollywood concept art, and trading cards.
Tim sadly passed away in 2006, however, Greg still carries on their amazing legacy with regular commissions for book covers, commercial art, advertising art, and private commissions.
To salute the Brothers Hildebrandt's character designs and dynamic paintings for their Marvel Masterpieces card set at the House of Ideas from the 1990s, IDW Publishing is released a lavish 284-page hardback book on Feb. 23, and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive preview alongside comments on each artwork by Greg Hildebrandt.
The Marvel Art of the Brothers Hildebrandt is a prestige-format art book celebrating the art of superhero illustration and showcasing hundreds of paintings, drawings, and sketches by the legendary team of Greg and Tim Hildebrandt.
Back in 1994, the Hildebrandts launched their relationship with Marvel Comics to deliver artwork for the Marvel Masterpieces trading card project, which featured 158 portraits of Marvel's most iconic characters like Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, Black Panther, Deadpool, Cable, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Iron Man, Thanos, and many more.
IDW's deluxe coffee table book also includes the X-Men 2099 painted graphic novel, penned by John Francis Moore and illustrated by the Brothers Hildebrandt, alongside a wealth of other illustrations that followed their impressive Marvel Masterpieces endeavor. Paired with three decades of their Marvel art is a treasure of illuminating commentary, anecdotes, and memories by Greg Hildebrandt.
The Marvel Masterpieces gig was an important milestone in Greg's career, firstly because It was the first time he'd done superheroes in this manner of multiple layouts and poses, and secondly, it was the first time that he and his brother Tim had worked together in 12 years.
Here's Greg's exclusive musings on four classic paintings included in The Marvel Art of the Brothers Hildebrandt:
Captain America and the Red Skull
"This was a poster I painted on my own a few years after the Masterpieces came out. This painting holds a special place in my heart because I love Captain America. The character dates back to my childhood. While I didn't have those first Simon and Kirby issues some of the older kids in my neighborhood did. If you were lucky they would let you read their copy, but some of those kids… no way were you touching their books! Later in life I finally got to meet Joe Simon and ended up becoming really good friends with him. I really loved that guy. He saw this painting and told me that he liked it. That is the highest compliment I could possibly get."
"The first trading cards Marvel gave us were the X-Men nine-block. That one was a lot of fun and presented some very unique challenges. They gave us 14 characters to be in it so right off the bat it's a crowded scene. Then it not only has to work as a singular image but be able to be broken up into nine separate images that can all stand on their own as individual trading cards. It was a lot to think through, but I like the challenge of piecing things together like that. I made the characters all coming forward, which allowed each of the nine sections to have visual interest in terms of the compositions.
"For instance, you don't want a trading card just showing Wolverine's back. I also used the lighting to aid the composition. Using a strong central light helped unify the whole thing and then I added secondary light sources around the image, making them different colors to help separate each of the characters away from the background and visually interesting as individual cards. I added so many light sources I ended up making myself nuts."
"We really got into the lighting on this one. We wanted to make her powers really glow and pop so we had to take into consideration the time of day. We set it in the evening to create that strong contrast of the pink powers with the blue of the night sky and her outfit. I really liked playing around with how the pink light from her powers would interact on her skin color. The majority of her skin is painted purple but it still reads as the true tone of her flesh."
"Cable is a really fun character. The way he was depicted back then, the hyper-characterization to the point it was really almost a caricature. Over-the-top muscles on top of muscles, really just a lot of fun. I enjoyed everything about making this card, from the angle of the pose to the depiction of the rapid-fire blasts."
IDW Publishing's The Marvel Art of the Brothers Hildebrandt arrives on Feb. 23.