Artist Alex Horley Illuminates the Underworld with His Volcanic Art Alchemy

World-renowned artist Alex Horley has created a haunting collection of Court of the Dead art prints that spotlight key players of the Underworld, including the leaders of each faction and the Alltaker himself, Death, as they stand against the legions of Heaven and Hell.

Court of the Dead creator Tom Gilliland explains, “There’s a string of DNA in Court of the Dead that’s heavily influenced by spending endless hours after school listening to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath among others that begged to be paid back. There’s no other artist I know of that consistently and successfully summons that volcanic and primordial heavy metal vibe that inspired me since my youth like Alex Horley. They say you can’t go back, but when Alex has finished summoning his vision of these characters, it makes you ask why you ever wanted to.

The first of these highly-limited edition prints, The Underworld United, is available for pre-order soon from Sideshow, limited to just 100 pieces worldwide!  Alex Horley, the creative hands behind this cryptic collection, has given us some insight on his painting process, his Underworld aspirations, and some of his favorite faces of Court of the Dead…

How did you get involved with Sideshow and Court of the Dead?

It was through my rep., Stacy E. Walker, who is not only a well-known model in the industry but a great agent as well. We have both known David Igo for a while and he invited us to visit the Sideshow office after Comic-Con, an opportunity not to be missed.

So, not only did we get to view the museum-like setup, but we also got the chance to see how each department works and all the incredible artistry that goes in each sculpture they produce.

What were your first discussions like for this project? Did it begin as a series, or evolve naturally?

David introduced us to Ricky Lovas and I expressed how much I would enjoy working on something like COTD.  It has everything I love; creepy creatures, awesome dark characters, and gothic environments. When I first saw their display at Comic-Con a few years ago, it blew me away!

Shortly after, they asked me to work on the covers for a COTD comic book series.  After I finished the second, they decided to put the release on hold, but it was an honor to know that they really liked what I did and wanted me to do more. A few months later, we got to sit down with Tom Gilliland and Ricky to discuss further projects, starting with a series of four narrative paintings representing each Underworld faction.

Have you taken the Faction quiz yet? Are you happy with the Faction you were given, or would you choose another?

I took the test and it looks I belong to the Spirit Faction!  I’m good with it, but I’d be happy with any of them.  I love them all, because each one has its own distinctive designs, making it really difficult to pick between the three.

Which characters from Court do you find the most compelling?

I love monsters in general.  They are the most fun, and somehow therapeutic, for me to work on.  I really like Kier, because I always enjoy painting strong and sexy female characters holding swords, and Relic Ravlatch is the first character I saw from the Court and that stopped me in my tracks at Comic-Con.

Also, I’m really looking forward to working on Odium, one of the latest creations.  His design is so amazing, and he’s probably going to be my favorite.

You work in traditional media – can you share a bit of behind the scenes explanation on your process and materials?

After the sketch is approved, I blow it up to the size I want to paint it and trace the photocopy on the board or canvas with tracing paper.
The next step is a layout of the composition, where I seal the traced drawing and lay down the basic shapes and values with an acrylic wash, almost watercolor like. I tend to do this with a neutral color, and most often I use purple. Some more details are added as well.

Once this monochromatic layout is approved too, I start laying down the basic colors, always in acrylics and very transparent. Then I begin bringing up the volumes, going more opaque and starting to push lights and shadows. The final step is done with oils on top of this acrylic base; this allows me to give the painting more depth and allows me to work more easily on fine details and color subtleties.

The first limited edition print in the set, Underworld United, will be available for pre-order from Sideshow on Friday, January 26th.  See the pre-order information HERE.

The Impermanence of Flesh, The Transcendence of Spirit, and The Strength of Bone prints will each be available for pre-order at a later date.  RSVP for more information!