Robot 6

Unpacking Rian Hughes’ ‘Soho Dives, Soho Divas’

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This week finer comic shops will have Rian Hughes’ Soho Dives, Soho Divas available for purchase. The previews don’t really do justice to the book, which collects Hughes’ portraits of London burlesque artists. Read on …

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“For the past few years I’ve been attending a life-drawing class in Soho, where all the models are burlesque artistes,” Hughes told Robot 6 in March. “This began simply as an exercise to keep the skill set sharp, but at some point I collated the best ones into a small sketchbook that Eric Stephenson at Image saw, and that’s how the book happened. “With the availability of nice production values, I added lots of new graphic and illustrative material in all kinds of experimental styles alongside the original pencil sketches. It developed organically from there.”

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Soho Dives, Soho Divas is the third in a serious of books Image Comics has released collecting Hughes’ work, following up from Yesterday’s Tomorrows and Tales From Beyond Science. But whereas those are collections of Hughes’ comics work, Soho Divas, Soho Dives is more about pin-ups and standalone illustrations. His work follows in a long tradition of contemporary artists being inspired by 1950s-era pin-ups, but Hughes’ background as a designer really pushes these illustrations past the point of the standard illustration into artwork using only shape instead of line to draw these shapely beauties.

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Soho Dives, Soho Divas is being released in two formats: a standard mass-market paperback, as well as the limited-edition hardcover previewed here. The book comes in at 360 pages and measures 6 inches by 9 inches, with the interior pages alternating between gloss and wood-free matte paper — with red edging seen beautifully in the first picture. The hardcover also has gold and black foil on top of red Siltex for its cover, and comes with red head/tail bands and endpapers. Photographer Colin J. Smith has also done a video highlighting this ornate package.

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