René Brantonne’s cover illustrations for French pulp paperback publisher Fleuve Noir are a riot of imagination, lysergic color and unparalleled weirdness. Born in Creteil France, Brantonne started his career as a young artist for hire in the 1920s creating movie posters for French releases of American films. For a brief period, Brantonne lived in the United States continuing his work as a poster artist for Hollywood studios. He returned to France and from the mid-1950s until his death in 1979 produced hundreds of covers and illustrations for sci-fi and adventure novels and popular comic books.
Of the work I’ve seen and enjoyed by Brantonne, it’s his work for Fleuve Noir’s Anticipation series that I find the most exhilarating. The art is filled with energy, movement, wit, trippy perspectives, occult intimations and colors that will slap you silly. And some are the stuff of nightmares in which the future is a constant battle between man, machine and the unknown. The future depicted as a giant shoe crushing humanity like a bug or the grinding wheels of progress (Metal de Mort) making mincemeat of our flesh and bone. Brantonne’s vision was everything but idyllic. If the machines don’t get you the giant serpents will.
Welcome to the broken pyramid of your brain.