Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bookpeople's December Top Shelf Pick

Nice way to kick off December! (Or technically, finish November.) COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO is Bookpeople's Top Shelf Pick for the month of December. BookPeople is three stories of literary retail goodness located in the heart of Austin, Texas, and it's the state's largest independent bookstore. All of their copies of the book are signed, so if you're making holiday shopping decisions for literary or art lovers in your life, you might keep that in mind. :)

In-store, they've got the book displayed on an endcap in the sf/f section, ground level. The majority of stores stock the book in this section, which makes perfect sense. However, BookPeople's smart. They ALSO stock the book upstairs in their general art book section. Hey, it's a real kick to see my art book displayed next to Picasso's books. OK, it's more good fortune than anything since the store alphabetizes all of their artist monographs by last name, but nevertheless, I enjoyed that. The store prints up a nice newsletter booklet every month and the following review by Revolution SF Books Editor Peggy Hailey will be included in their December issue. I don't think this review will be on the store's website, so I'm taking the liberty to run it here, for the benefit of online readers and shoppers.

From Peggy Hailey: "John Picacio is one of my favorite cover artist/book designers working today. In fact, if you know me at all, I'm sure I've pointed out my many favorites to you a time or two. He's creative, talented, a real stand-up guy, and, as it happens, a darned good-looking man to boot. But even if he weren't all those things, it wouldn't matter, because John's work speaks for itself.

On a purely aesthetic level, COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO is a beautiful book. The cover is gorgeous, featuring a triptych of book covers wildly divergent in style but connected by Picacio's rich palette of colors. Everything comes together with a feel that's both functional and artistic, from the typeface to the richly colored endpapers to the glossy pages. You can literally feel the quality.

But let's be honest -- pretty covers and a smart layout will only take you so far. What really counts is the content, right?

Luckily the content is top-notch, too. Along with full-page, full-color reproductions of the covers we get sketches and background info about the creation of each cover. This insight into the creative process sets the book apart for me. Knowing that, say, the wings from John's cover to DANGEROUS VISIONS were actually built and existed in the real world adds to my appreciation of the picture. But the book would be well worth the cover price for the pictures alone. Just pick up the book and thumb through it for a while.

Go on; I'll wait.

Now I ask you, how can you possibly resist? I love that trenchcoated gorilla on GEEK CONFIDENTIAL. I adore those fantastic tripods hiding out on the back cover of A BLAZING WORLD. I can't stop looking at the flaming monk on A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ. I am fascinated by the man in homemade wings about to take flight on DANGEROUS VISIONS. And I am transfixed by the sleeping face on GHOSTS OF COLUMBIA.

Each of the covers is an evocative piece of art in and of itself, but once you've read the book in question you discover just how well the cover complements the content. It's clear that John actually reads the books he's working on, God bless him, and if you ask me, that's why the covers work so well.

Still unconvinced? Really? Well how about this: every single copy we have of COVER STORY is signed by the artist. Surely you know someone who would appreciate a beautiful book full of gorgeous pictures signed by an up-and-coming Texas artist. MonkeyBrain Books has put together a fabulous package to show off Picacio's talent that has substance (including an introduction by Michael Moorcock and a lengthy interview with the artist) as well as style. John Picacio is a rising talent in his chosen field, and he's only going to get better. COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO lays a beautiful foundation for the amazing work I know is still to come."


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