WFC 2006 / Austin, TX
(Above: me, Jo Fletcher, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Ellen Datlow, Stephen Jones)
World Fantasy Con 2006 was epic. It's probably my favorite con every year, and the Austin event was certainly no different. All the action happened about 2 hours driving distance from my house, so no airplanes for me this time. Despite that, I still felt like I had been slammed by a 2x4 when it was all over. It was five-plus days of sheer pleasure with old and new friends, and seeing everyone there is one of my favorite times of the year. I displayed several works in the Art Show and sold almost half of it, which was very nice. Happily signed a LOT of copies of my art book, COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO. Signed a lot of other books as well, including copies of Mark Finn's fabulous new Robert E. Howard biography, BLOOD & THUNDER (MonkeyBrain Books), for which I did the cover illustration and design.
I was the Master of Ceremonies for this year's International Horror Guild Awards on Thursday night of the convention. It was quite an honor, and I'd like to again extend my congrats to all of the nominees and winners in all of the categories. Clive Barker won this year's IHG Award in the Artist category. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro was honored as the Living Legend. It was a fun evening.
The great thing was that Austin's WFC Art Show was full of A-list talent. Gary Gianni and John Jude Palencar were the Artist GOHs and they both hung phenomenal displays of their work. Both consummate gentlemen. Gregory Manchess has long been one of my favorite painters and he displayed at a WFC Art Show for the first time, with some of his Conan paintings from Robert E. Howard's THE CONQUERING SWORD OF CONAN. Greg's an amazing human being, and I was especially gratified to see his presence at this year's show. I think his participation this weekend gained him a lot of new fans who will follow his work from here forth. He's quite simply one of The Great American Artists. Mike Dringenberg hung another great set of works and he had a piece he kept working on and re-hanging every day. We shared some time on a panel together, and every time I see him in that situation, he always offers solid insights. Charles Vess, Gary Lippincott, Lisa Snellings-Clark, and Vincent Villafranca were amongst the many with world-class displays of their work. 15-year-old Derek Ford had an amazing weekend. He sold several of his Dali-esque ballpoint pen masterpieces and stunned congoers all weekend with his invention of free-flowing form. The whole show was rock-solid across the board, and I heard many veteran congoers say they thought its overall content quality ranked amongst the best WFC Art Shows ever.
Unfortunately, the layout and spatial design for the Art Show were very disappointing. The layout seemed like a bit of a dark rat tunnel, and relative to the other con function spaces, it seemed (on the surface) that the Art Show got the shaft in that regard. Hopefully future con committees will give more careful consideration to the spatial needs of the Art Show and especially its lighting needs. It's not cool for it to be given a left-over space, as it appeared to many who walked through the show. It's a shame that such a world-class array of art wasn't celebrated better by the layout, especially when you consider the considerable cost and effort many artists undertake to participate in this show. Fortunately, the Art Show was in the same function space as the Dealers' Room, so that helped gain the show its traffic. It's a credit to the con committee though that despite this critical letdown, it was still a very successful convention. Kudos to Renee Babcock, Scott Zrubek, Kimm Antell, Fred Duarte, Kim Kofmel, Willie and Charles Siros, and all of the hard-working committee folks who made the entire con happen. I heard rave reviews all weekend for hospitality and overall fabulousness by congoers left and right. I can't imagine how much work it is to put a con like this together. Thanks to all, and congrats to the entire committee on the overall success.
I'm sure many blogs will discuss the results of this year's World Fantasy Awards in great detail, so I'll leave that fun to them. However, I'd like to offer congrats to James Jean, who won the World Fantasy Award in the Artist category. It surprised many that he won (admittedly, including me), but the sheer excellence of this guy's past 12 months' worth of work speaks for itself. I was honored to win the World Fantasy Award in this category last year, so congratulations and welcome to the club, as it were, James. I love the diversity of the World Fantasy Artist winners list over the years (Frank Frazetta, Michael Whelan, Edward Gorey, Moebius, Alan Lee, Dave McKean, Donato Giancola, just to name a few), and that diversity of excellence is part of why the award is so significant to me.
So on to Saratoga Springs for next year's WFC.
One final note -- to any World Fantasy board members, or members of next year's con committee -- if by chance, the committee hasn't yet resolved who will be the Artist Guest of Honor, I offer a recommendation.
Jeffrey Jones. He's a past winner of the World Fantasy Award and one of the all-time legends of the field. He continues to be an inspiration to artists worldwide. I think he's had some tough recent years, but he's located in that part of the country and I think collectors of his work could potentially rally a beautiful Art Show celebration of his oeuvre. Offering him an Artist Guest of Honor/Special Guest position would be a tremendous tribute and a real drawing card for pros and fans to attend. Taking a cue from this year's show, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have another prominent artist from the area as Artist Guest of Honor as well, especially in case Jeff's situation potentially prohibits him from attending at the last minute. Just a thought....
Back to work over here.
Thanks to Max Smolev for the usage of the photo above! Here's his gallery of IHG photos from this year. Here's John Klima's gallery of WFC photos. Irene Gallo has a terrific report over at The Art Department.