Thomas Kinkade was one of the most commercially successful artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. If you know him at all beyond “oh wow I didn’t know this dollar-store Christmas card was available as a print, huh,” you know his bucolic landscapes. Or maybe you sat through all of the 2008 biopic Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage because you were crushing that hard on Jared Padalecki that year. (Who among us is without the sin of slumming through actor’s filmography just for the opportunity to see them? This is a no-shame zone.)
His self-proclaimed title, the Painter of Light (you too can assign yourself a title if you trademark it!), referred to his fascination with light studies. But that light wasn’t always coming from an idyllic cottage. Once upon a time in the '80s, it came from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow…
In 1983, real-life bros Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta teamed up to bring the world Fire and Ice, a Heavy Metal cover brought to animated life. High fantasy! Magic! Scantily clad bodacious babes of all genders! A dude named Darkwolf! Rotoscoping! Given all of this stimulation overloading your cerebral cortex, it’s easy to miss that some of those backgrounds against which all of that takes place were done by one Thomas Kinkade.
See, Kinkade and buddy James Gurney were hired by Ralph Bakshi Studios to do backgrounds for the film. And, allegedly, the high drama lighting of the world of Fire and Ice sparked the fascination with lighting that characterized the rest of Kinkade’s career. Just imagine: there’s an alternate universe out there somewhere where Kinkade stayed on track with the high fantasy backgrounds, transforming homes and hotels across America into little oases of glorious fantasy nonsense. Ahhh. Amazing.
Project this whole thing onto the side of the van that is my brain, please.