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Book Review: Company of Shadows – Author Paul Gerrard

It’s only once in great while that an illustration-art book comes along with enough “meat” and chaos brooding inside to grab my full attention. Perhaps it is my fascination with all things Hellraiser or “Hellraiser-like” (for that matter) that makes me a little more bias towards materials rooting themselves in this particular universe. However with that said, this is indeed an all-original group of character-driven pieces and narratives rich in nightmarish origins existing in its own hellish universe.

Kudos to projects and artistic explorations deserving of it.

On that note, this brings me to a new viewing of a previously released art project that arrived a few years ago under the twisted imagination of illustrator/artist Paul Gerrard. The name of the book is titled “Company of Shadows” and is a site to behold.

The influences planted here are just enough of a spark to fuel this rich organic coming-together of monstrosities and entities. Weaving the boundaries between the science fiction and horror genre arrives variations of alien beings, demons, mythological beasts and cthulhian life forms. Paul has set the tone firmly with a collective of uniquely hell-spawnish figures that making for a great introduction into his style of illustrating.

“Company of Shadows”, the book, originally created in 2014, is a full color exercise in horror-character-illustration creating fresh concepts under the techniques of digital, 3D, and fine artistry.

Strangely enough, a recent film I just viewed titled “The Void” almost seems to have been directly energized by demons such as the ones seen in Paul’s art collection. Perhaps, the production team was inspired by an early viewing? Who’s to say

Moving onto the book’s contents, most characters here are described and introduced for readers to understand a bit of where they came from or why they exist. There is a great affinity here that reminds me a bit of Wayne Barlowe books and creations serving as a conduit for Paul’s direction of influence. The organic base also pays subtle homage to the works of H. R. Giger. color tones are kept grounded to brownish grays while offering well placed color highlights thru-out. What especially works here is the use of subtle reflective surfaces giving many of the creatures a dampish sheen. This added element adds just enough depth mixed in with a swamp-like wetness adding extra pop to the manifestations.

There is enough material and art here to satisfy any horror fan under this smattering of nightmarish visions. It is the access to these kind of books that has suffered in recent years. Since the closing of major chains such as Borders and others, you are less likely to find many new illustrative publishings in print form (and for that matter, even less horror-rooted releases). Gone are the days when releases from artists such as Brom, Ashley Wood, Dave Mckean, David Ho, Jason Felix and others might occupy the genre sections of local book shops like they used to. However, it is thru private publishing and print-on-demand options that fans can still keep their shelves full (if you know where to look).

Company of Shadows is a full color release totaling 132 pages

The book was originally released under a limited print run, but can now be downloaded in its entirety (in pdf form) from Paul’s web site.

A direct link to the book Company of Shadows is located here

Also make sure and check out Paul’s film contributions and Hellraiser Origins project!

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