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Born August 25, 1947 in Guatemala, Central America to American parents.

A comic book artist and illustrator, Kaluta may be best known for his cover work on DC’s Books of Magic, or his internal work on the much-coveted Marvel/Epic book Startstruck. His work transcends the comic’s genre into illustration for RPG modules and album cover work. His art is primarily ink and watercolor, and his use of fine lines and precise structure adds beauty and elegance to the pieces.

Michael Kaluta went to college at the Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University) in Richmond, Virginia from 1966-1968. He studies fine arts and, against the advice of his instructors, ventured into illustration and comic book work.

Upon graduation, Kaluta moved to New York and began working on various comic titles including Batman, Swamp Thing, Detective Comics, and House of Mystery. He also found poster and book illustration work with Conan, Swords of Shahrazar, and an eight piece poster series on Dante's Inferno. As his fame and popularity grew in his prospected fields Kaluta began to reach into different markets, such as National Lampoon. This chapter in Kaluta’s life seemed to peak during a comic art gallery in Manhattan, in 1977, where Kaluta sold a great deal of original work. After the gallery, Kaluta says,“ I visit(ed) Europe and Great Britain, return refreshed.”

Once back in America, he joined with Jeffery Jones, Berni Wrightson, and Barry Windsor-Smith to form “The Studio." During his time in the studio, Kaluta completed several poster works, including “The wedding guest” and “Conan: In the Twinkling of an Eye”. He also created a five piece series titled “Children of the Twilight”. The Studio eventually culminated in the Roger Dean publication of “The Studio”, a book featuring the works of the four artists.

In 1980 Kaluta met Elaine Lee, a playwright, and began working on costume and set design for her sci-fi play Starstruck. He became so captivated by the play’s story that he talked Lee into releasing Starstruck in comic format. He spent the next few years working on this project with her, which eventually was published by Heavy Metal Magazine. For the next few years he worked on various forms of this project and released various Starstruck books from DC Comics and Marvel comics.

Kaluta’s work on Startstuck finished in 1985, where he began working on animation for the Alan Parsons Project video Don’t Answer Me. He also began work on The Shadow graphic novel, and Hitler’s Astrologer for Marvel Comics. He continued to work on various comic books and illustration for fantasy based books. He drew the comic book adaptation of the James Cameron film The Abyss for Dark Horse Comics and worked as a conceptual and production artist for a French film set to star Christopher Lambert called Trooper, which was never released. He also did conceptual work on the Disney film The Rocketeer, and production designs for the Flash TV show. In 1990, he did production designs for Universal Cartoon Company’s animated pilot based on Sam Raimi’s Darkman. While the project was never finished, Michael Kaluta’s work drew heavily from his work on The Shadow. In 1993 he begrudgingly worked on the film The Shadow. The character’s appearance was based on his print “The Shadow: Ablaze." Kaluta was unsatisfied with the film, finding that it did not capture the essence of the character. The next year when he and Joel Gross adapted the film for Dark Horse Comics

During this time new Starstruck work was being released by Dark Horse Comics. In 1996, he began drawing the covers for DC Comics famous The Books of Magic, which he would continue to do until 2000. During this time, he did a lot of work in comics as well as covers for Concrete’s “Nativity in Black Part II," a Black Sabbath tribute album. Kaluta had done the art for the original album in 1994. He also did conceptual designs for the Chris Rock movie Osmosis Jones. Since then Kaluta keeps doing work mainly for various comic companies producing covers.

One of the things about Michael Kaluta’s work is the exotic and foreign feel to it; the fine line work, still features, and vibrant colors remind of me of the Middle East. It makes me dream of far away lands where children fly high on magic carpets, men carry scimitars by their side to ward off sabertooth tigers, and woman are sultry and seductive. Art is supposed to inspire, and I can think of few artists that inspire me as much as Michael Kaluta.

References:
www.kaluta.com and www.Lambiek.com

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