So before bidding adieu to 2006...a few good times from my past 12 months...
* I illustrated covers for two of my childhood favorites, the original STAR TREK franchise, and THE X-MEN. So cool. What made the X-MEN cover opportunity even sweeter was that the book was written by my good pal, Chris Roberson. Jennifer Heddle is the editor of the Marvel line for Simon & Schuster's Pocket division, so it was a great thing to work on a childhood favorite with two of my favorite people.
* In April, Jeffrey Ford's THE EMPIRE OF ICE CREAM was released from Golden Gryphon, and I think this is one of my favorite pieces of cover art to date. On top of that, the book is widely heralded as one of the best of the year, and Jeff deserves every ounce of that spotlight and attention.
* That same month, I was Artist Guest of Honor at Minicon 41 in Bloomington, MN. Harlan Ellison was the Author Guest of Honor and Doug Friauf was the Fan Guest of Honor. My fiancee and I had a brilliant time, thanks to Greg Ketter, Bill Christ, and all of the Minicon crew. I love Minneapolis, I love DreamHaven Books, and hot-damn, I love Hell's Kitchen. Mmmmm.....sausage bread.
* In May, COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO was released. What can I say? It's my first art book, and I poured my guts into it. I can't thank MonkeyBrain Books enough for publishing a first-class art book of my work. Thanks to them, the book was available in bookstores everywhere. DreamHaven Books hosted a release party upon the book's debut, and so did Borderlands Books in San Francisco. Paul Goat Allen gave the book one of the greatest reviews I've ever seen over at Barnes & Noble.com, and SCI-FI MAGAZINE not only gave it an "A" review, but selected it as one of three recommended art books for the Xmas buying season.
* It's terrific to be associated with some of the best new books in the field, like the aforementioned EMPIRE OF ICE CREAM, but when you occasionally get the opportunity to work on an all-time classic like A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, you're very fortunate. HarperCollins/Eos released their trade paperback edition of Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s classic in May and it's one of my favorite cover illustrations of the last year or so. Many thanks to Diana Gill and Jennifer Brehl over there at Eos.
* The May/June issue of INTERZONE (#204) featured a cover, gallery and interview with me and I was honored to be a part of this great magazine. Andy Cox, Jetse De Vries, and the IZ crew really do a bang-up job every month and IZ just keeps getting better and better.
* I was a Locus Award finalist for the first time! Wow! The top five artists in this year's Locus Awards Poll were Michael Whelan (who won his 26th Locus Award in the Artist category), Bob Eggleton, me, Dave McKean, and Charles Vess.
* In August, I completed another cover that became a favorite of mine. This one was for Lou Anders' FAST FORWARD 1: FUTURE FICTION FROM THE CUTTING EDGE. The anthology will release from Pyr in February 2007, and I was happy with the way this one turned out. And talk about folks who had a great 2006 -- Pyr had a huge year. Congrats to Lou and all of the Pyr team.
* Worldcon convened in Anaheim this year, and it was one to remember. I participated in the Worldcon Business Meeting for the first time. It likely won't be my last time. I spent a lot of time there with Irene Gallo, Dave Seeley and some of the most dedicated SMoFs in the world, debating the issues of Hugo nominating and voting criteria. I learned a lot.
The 20th Annual Chesley Awards were handed out at this year's Worldcon, and I was fortunate to be nominated for two -- Best Interior Illustration, and Artistic Achievement. Brom won Best Interior for his terrific work on THE PLUCKER, but I was blown away to take home this year's Artistic Achievement Award. Probably one of the greatest honors I could ever receive, and very humbling. Tom Kidd handed the plaque to me, and I think that made it more special because I've long had immense respect for Tom and his paintings. The Hugo Awards Ceremony happened two nights later, and I was nominated for the Hugo for Best Professional Artist for the second year in a row. I didn't win this year, but Donato Giancola did, and that was good to see. He's one of the best in the business and it's good for the field to see his name listed amongst the Hugo winners' roster along with legends like Bob Eggleton and Michael Whelan.
* My cover art for L.E. Modesitt Jr.'s GHOSTS OF COLUMBIA (Tor) was selected for inclusion in SPECTRUM 13: THE BEST IN CONTEMPORARY FANTASTIC ART.
* Austin, Texas hosted the World Fantasy Convention this year. The art show featured one of the best selections of artwork in years, including John Jude Palencar, Greg Manchess, Charles Vess, Gary Gianni, Mike Dringenberg, and many more. Because I won the World Fantasy Award in 2005, I was ineligible to win it in 2006, so I got to kick back and root for my friends! I was thrilled to see Chris Roberson, Lou Anders, and Jess Nevins nominated for the WFs this year. Hey, they didn't win this time, but I suspect their years are coming.
Like I said, it's been quite a year, and I've been very fortunate. Between now and March 17th, 2007, I've got a lot of fresh new cover work to accomplish, and then on St. Patrick's Day, I get to take a break and marry the wonderful Traci Ogden. So I'll see you on the other side in 2007. :)
Happy New Year to all!