And now for something different. Really different.
Artist Ricardo Delgado is well-known for his dinosaur comics. And you can certainly see that influence in his Thark and other Martian creature designs. http://ricardodelgadoart.blogspot.ca/
I’m guessing from the dates on the art that production designer Iain McCaig brought Delgado in while they were still scripting John Carter of Mars. He was there to basically just a brainstorm, which I think is heaven on earth for an artist. I would love to be paid to just sit down and scratch out details of the characters, world and creatures of Barsoom and just let my imagination run wild all over the place.
From looking at this selection I would say that Stanton was using the phrase ‘as though National Geographic had gone to Mars’ quite early on. In Delgado’s case that seems to lead him to treat it very much that way.
His flavour is sort of Barsoom wrapped in mix of Amazonian, Chinese, Tibetan and perhaps a dash of Taiwan. But don’t hold me to it. I’m no expert in these kind of things. Definitely not my take on Barsoom, but it it is a crucial stage in developing anything this large and complex.
A few comments about the images.
– One of the first things I noticed that actually seems to exist in the final movie is the spider petroglyph. Why the red figure on the wall has six arms I don’t know. Artistic license or an idea for the Therns ? If so that’s my favorite idea out of this set.
– I understand the idea of having helium built around a major water source but the designs feel more Disney’s Atlantis than John Carter of Mars.
– I’m less than enthused with red Martians being treated as a Amazonian tribe. I do applaud his attempted adding more culture to Tharks, and Stanton certainly has done that with them worshiping Issis, but the desert shrouds with what looks to me like Japanese iconography doesn’t work for me. And don’t get me going on those tusks …
– I like the desert-scape showing the reefs. On the flip side there’s a temple shaped like a ‘white ape’ head that looks like something out of Thailand to me. It feels more like a goulash of Earth cultures rather than an alien world.
– The thoats are generally rather unattractive creatures. I very much prefer the thoats in the movie.
Overall I’d say Delgado wasn’t a fan of the books or that he was so determined to come up with something new that it doesn’t really feel like Barsoom. That said I truly love seeing early development art ( and sure wish the art book had more ) and I’m grateful for his sharing of these. – Jeff ( damn opinionated artist )