Somewhere there is a place where the dark corridors and smoke filled rooms of pulp noir crime fiction meet the cape filled skies of comic book super heroes. While there are a number of illustrators and comic book artists who regularly visit that intersection (Jim Steranko comes to mind), most are transients. Glen Orbik is a resident.
Even in his numerous comic book covers for Marvel and DC Comics, you can see the influence of terrific paperback and poster artists like Robert McGinniss and Gil Elvgren, and, in particular, Fred Fixler, with whom Orbik studied.
Fixler was a noted illustrator of movie posters and a widely respected teacher. Fixler studied with Frank Reilly and Robert Beverly Hale at the Art Student’s League (where his classmates included James Bama) and later established his own school, The California Art Institute. When he retired from teaching, Orbik took over his classes.
In addition to the major comic book companies, Orbik’s clients include Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, Sony, Avon Books, Random House and others.
Orbik has a web site, which he shares with his partner and fellow teacher, illustrator Laurel Blechman. The gallery is arranged in one of those PHP gallery modules that can seem a bit awkward and unresponsive, but is navigable. However, once you’re into Orbik’s galleries, it’s easy to miss the fact that you need to come back out to the home page to access Blechman’s work, which you will find at the bottom of the home page and is definitely worth looking for.
The bulk of the galleries are devoted to Orbik’s work, though occasionally you will find works, marked with and asterisk, on which the two artists collaborated. There are sections devoted to Orbik’s pulp noir book covers (which include covers for books by Stephen King and Ray Bradbury) that are steeped in the feeling of classic pulp covers and movie posters. Orbik loves to play with restricted palettes that are almost monochromatic or duotone, where the overall color dominates the mood of the piece, at times punctuated with a vibrant bit of a contrasting color.
His comic book work, largely covers and posters, leans either toward the mythically heroic style of movie posters, ideal for characters like Superman, or to the intimate chiaroscuro of pulp novel covers, a perfect fit for characters like Batman or Catwoman, or his wonderful pulp cover take on the DC Comics’ character Azrael (left, top).
You will also find some unexpected treats in the galleries: storyboards for ads, comic character model sheets, lenticular art, and several sections of very nice figure drawings, studies and demos. Orbik’s figure drawings, not surprisingly, can often have a bit of melodramatic lighting and a pulp illustration feeling about them. Like I said, he lives there.
Suggestion courtesy of Jack Harris