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Kaluta, Michael W

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1947-    ) American artist, born in Guatemala to American citizens. After a peripatetic childhood as the son of a soldier in the United States Air Force, Kaluta received his artistic training at the Richmond Professional Institute from 1966 to 1968 and then began his professional career. Some early covers for Fantastic magazine, interior illustrations for Fantastic and Amazing Stories, and a few book covers for Small Presses attracted little attention; however, Kaluta garnered acclaim for his 1970s work in Comics, including a DC Comics adaptation of the Pulp hero the Shadow, and he has remained most active in that medium, producing many covers for DC and Marvel Comics. For three years, he worked with Jeffrey Jones, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Berni Wrightson in the artists' collective called the Studio, with their work celebrated in a 1979 volume with that name. His later activities have included contributions to Elaine Lee's stage play Starstruck (1980), films like The Shadow (1994) and Osmosis Jones (2001), and the television series Human Target (1992), as well as artwork for calendars and gaming.

In the 1980s, Kaluta returned to sf book covers, moving away from the more representative approach of earlier efforts to offer interestingly intricate artwork that recalled the style of Art Nouveau; noteworthy works in that vein include his cover for Philip José Farmer's The Grand Adventure (coll 1984), an array of colourful figures dwarfed by a sceptre-wielding goddess, and his cover for Katherine Kurtz's The Legacy of Lehr (1986), featuring a snarling bobcat against a background of circular portals. Another interesting project was a 1988 illustrated edition of Thea von Harbou's Metropolis (1926), featuring a meticulously etched image of the Robot Maria on its cover. Such covers provided books with an aura of quaint dignity that could impress connoisseurs, but most publishers no doubt preferred more realistic and dynamic covers, explaining why Kaluta's assignments in this area have remained infrequent. This surely did not concern Kaluta, though, since his talents were well appreciated in other venues. For further consolation, Kaluta's entire body of work has been honoured with a 2003 Spectrum Grandmaster Award and a 2008 Chesley Award for general artistic achievement. [GW]

Michael William Kaluta

born Guatemala City, Guatemala: 25 August 1947



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