Sunday, April 29, 2007

Locus Award Noms x 2!

I found out while I was in Europe last week that I'm a finalist for two Locus Awards. Wow! So I'm a finalist for Best Artist and for Best Art Book (COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO). Couldn't be more pleased, and I'm very grateful for the kind consideration. Thanks so much! It's been quite an amazing six weeks over here....getting married; doing honeymoons on two continents; being nominated for two Hugo Awards, and now discovering that I'm a finalist for two Locus Awards. Again, I'm very grateful.

If you're curious about the art book, COVER STORY is still available from the big stores (; Barnes & Noble; Borders; Books-A-Million), but please consider some of these terrific independent booksellers as well. Many of them have a few autographed copies remaining, at no extra charge...Borderlands Books, DreamHaven Books, Bud Plant, The Other Change of Hobbit, and many more. While I was in the Netherlands last week, I signed lots of copies for The American Book Center which is located in Amsterdam. (Thanks, Karin!) So if you live in or near the Netherlands, or saw the book at the Elf Fantasy Fair, they've got signed copies now.

One more note -- three cheers for MonkeyBrain Books, as they're the publisher of my art book, and it's terrific to share the book's Hugo and Locus Award noms with them.
In addition, MonkeyBrain's MYTHS FOR THE MODERN AGE by Win Eckert, and BLOOD & THUNDER: THE LIFE & ART OF ROBERT E. HOWARD by Mark Finn both finished as finalists in the Locus Awards' Best Non-Fiction category.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to illustrate the covers for both of those, as well as Jeffrey Ford's THE EMPIRE OF ICE CREAM (Golden Gryphon), which is a finalist for Best Collection. Congrats to all!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Elf Fantasy Fair 2007

Utrecht in the springtime...hard to find a nicer place to be. Traci and I are back home from a nine-day stint in Europe. We spent the first half of the trip with over 22,000 costumed faithful at the 2007 Elf Fantasy Fair in the Netherlands, just outside of Utrecht. I was invited out as a special guest for the show, and as you can see from the photos here, it's a spectacular venue. The fair happened on the grounds of Castle de Haar, the biggest castle in the country.
Essentially, it was a massive costumed festival, with lots of eats; lots of battles and jousts; and tons of imagination, revelry, and camaraderie everywhere. My fellow special guests at the show were a really special bunch. I can't think of a more diverse and strange group who on the surface should have had nothing in common, but as it turned out, the best times were when we were all together. A quick rundown of the whole crew...

David Anthony Durham -- aka "Big D" -- author of PRIDE OF CARTHAGE and the forthcoming ACACIA, and if the massive Saturday battle is any indication, a man with a killer instinct when 50 rows of his barbarian brothers are in front of him with weapons and shields swinging away...('kidding, D!)...true enough, history will remember that battle as the one where D was holding down the rear guard in heroic fashion. ;)

Brian Froud -- aka "Little B" -- what can you say about Froud at a festival called Elf Fantasy Fair? I mean, seriously. It figured the guy would be a rock star out there, and it was no surprise when he was. Gotta respect a guy who says out of the blue, "Real men don't wear armor. Real men wear tutus." And then backs up his talk when his fans show up in droves to his Sunday signing. He's the man. Froud forever.

Chris Geere (pictured right, along with Jetse de Vries) -- Have you seen the film BLOOD & CHOCOLATE yet? I haven't, but now I have to, because Chris is in it. He was a riot and a revelation all weekend long. Traci and I very much look forward to future shows where this guy graces the screen...favorite Chris Geere moment from the EFF weekend: too many to count really....although the immortal line "Where's Little B?" will probably ring in my memory forever...

Prof. Dr. Roland Rotherham -- A gentleman, a scholar, and the ambassador of the entire Elf Fantasy Fair. You're all heart and soul, Prof, and Traci and I appreciate all that you did out there at EFF.

In addition, we crossed paths with these folks...

Julian Glover -- His performance in INDIANA JONES & THE LAST CRUSADE was unforgettable, and he's widely regarded as one of the best character actors anywhere. We spent some time with him on Saturday night when the group of us convened at the hotel bar, and he was a true gentleman.

Scott Lynch -- saw him very briefly in the VIP room and then never again....very sad to say that we never hung out over there, as his schedule was apparently very different from the rest of us.

James Clemens -- Ditto. Sorry that you and Scott missed out on some really fun times with our motley crew. :)

Lou Ferrigno -- I religiously watched the HULK TV show when I was an elementary school kid, and I had a big Lou Ferrigno HULK poster in my room at that time. So it was quite a trip for Traci and me to spend an hour-long taxi ride with him, and discuss everything from superhero movies to knee surgery to tasers. A very kind guy and I wish we got a chance to hang out with him more at EFF. Take care out there, Lou.

Jetse de Vries -- a good friend, and one of the editors of the Hugo-nominated INTERZONE Magazine...Jetse lives in the Netherlands and was kind enough to join our crazy EFF bunch for a memorable Sunday evening.

(standing, L to R: Brian Froud; Martin, our terrific PA; seated L to R: Jetse de Vries; Chris Geere; the Prof.; me; Traci; Ronald; David Anthony Durham)

Big thanks to the EFF organizers, and especially Stefan, Coca, Martin, Ronald (thanks for getting us around), PJ, Pim, Tamara, Arno, and all the rest who really looked out for us. It was a real pleasure. After EFF, Traci and I spent several days in London, and that was the second of our two honeymoons (the first was last month in Toronto). All in all, we had a phenomenal time in Europe, but it's good to be home now.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

WHC 2007

So much to goes....spent the first part of last week in Toronto with my wife Traci on our first honeymoon (we'll do the second honeymoon this month in London). Toronto was one of the best cities we've ever visited. Phenomenally diverse! Loved it. Queen St. West is now one of my favorite streets in the world. Bloor St was terrific. So many jaw-droppingly beautiful churches all over. A new Frank Gehry addition punching through the Ontario Art Museum.A day trip to Niagara Falls. Silver Snail and the Beguiling are two of the finest comic book shops I've ever visited. Bakka-Phoenix Books rules. And Toronto has some of the nicest people anywhere (example: Holly, the waitress at the Marriott who served with a smile for days on end and became like family to WHC barflies, who shall remain nameless). Traci and I often said, "We could live in this town." Our short honeymoon was fabulous, and we get to dream it all over again in London later this month.(And by the way, for those of you who've emailed asking about wedding photos, I haven't forgotten. Photos forthcoming. Traci and I have been so busy, we haven't even had time to see them.) Meantime, here's an ultimate honeymoon cliche -- Traci and me at Niagara touristy, it's nauseating, but hey -- we couldn't pass the opportunity, and we're glad we went.

On to World Horror Con...impossible to do an all-inclusive report, but a couple of things that must be said. The con committee -- what an achievement this past week was. Stephen Jones is The Man. Steve, you shattered your own high standards, and crafted a convention experience for the ages. I look forward to WHC in Salt Lake City next year, but I don't envy them for following the performance of this year's committee. I suspect SLC will be terrific, but this year's result will be so tough to top. So professionally run, so well-organized. So many congoers raved about the programming slate and how much goodness there was, hour to hour. One of the best WHCs ever. My biggest thanks to Head Chair Amanda Foubister and Associate Chair Mandy Slater. Rodger, Lisa, Kelly, Alex, Marah, Evelyn, and everyone -- again, you outdid yourselves. Lastly, what a GOH crew -- Michael Marshall Smith, Nancy Kilpatrick, Pete Crowther, Don Hutchison, Pete Atkins, Gahan Wilson, and Sephera was a true honour to be side by side with you.


Best WHC party: the PS Publishing Party at the Merril Collection....Pete and Nikki Crowther hosted a memorable reception where they debuted several PS releases, including POSTSCRIPTS 10, a special Michael Marshall Smith issue with stories by Mike as well as Stephen King, Joe Hill, Lucius Shepard, Connie Willis, Tim Lebbon, Graham Joyce, and more. Cover by me. The book turned out beautifully and it was a very fast seller. There may still be a few copies left. The Merril Collection was a revelation. It's an expertly-maintained, climate-controlled archive of the best genre books and art, available for scholarly use. Partygoers took tours of the collection. Awesome. A great time. (Stephen Jones, Ellen Datlow pictured.)

Best Convention Program in the history of Conventions: TRAVELLERS IN DARKNESS, the souvenir book for WHC 2007, edited by Stephen Jones. Almost every con has a program, which is usually a magazine of varying production quality, sometimes slick, often not so. Not good enough for WHC 2007 though. This con had a gorgeous hardcover book with dustjacket! Artwork by Bob Eggleton, Randy Broecker, Les Edwards, myself and more and contributions by Michael Marshall Smith, Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, Kim Newman, Robert Sawyer, F. Paul Wilson, Norm Partridge, Michael Rowe, and many, many more. Plus an interior color gallery of some of my cover illustrations. Make no mistake though -- this book was Steve Jones' baby. My reaction when I first saw it: "You've gotta be kidding me....." Utter awe and admiration. Rumor has it Michael Marshall Smith did the beautiful interior layouts. If so, further proof that MMS is one of the deadliest talents anywhere. What CAN'T this guy do well?

Favorite Stoker Awards moment: Joe R. Lansdale getting a standing ovation when he won the Grandmaster Award. Congrats to all of the Stoker winners. It was great to see Pete Crowther recognized for his stellar work with PS Publishing and great to see Joe have a night where he was honored like that, along with his family. (Pictured below at the Stokers, left to right: Brendan Vaughan, Brad Hutchings, Claire Booker, Ann Hutchings, Traci, me.)

(Bottom photo....the new Rat Pack?? Left to right: Pete Atkins, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones, Jonathan Reitan)

General good times shoutout: to all congoers who were so many good people who were so generous and was a pleasure to spend time with all of you. As always, a blast to hang with comrades-in-arms Chris Roberson and Allison Baker, as well as Liza Trombi, George Mann, Jeremy Lassen, Liz Gorinsky, Michael Marshall Smith and his wife Paula (and little Nate!), Tim Lebbon, Rodger Turner, Scott Edelman, Gahan Wilson, Brendan and Claire Vaughan, and Brad and Ann Hutchings. So many more. Again -- Steve, it was an amazing con that you, Mandy, Amanda, Kelly, Evelyn, Rodger and everyone put together...a phenomenal weekend that Traci and I will never forget.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Best Day Ever, Part II: 2 Hugo Noms!!!

So I just got back home after an amazing week in Toronto. Sorry I've been away for so long. More on that coming.

Apparently, while I've been out of town, the Hugo nominations list released. I'm absolutely thrilled to be one of the five nominees in the Best Professional Artist category. Wow! What an honor. And as thrilled as I am about that, I couldn't be happier that COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO has been nominated for the Best Related Book Hugo as well. Wow, wow! Better yet, COVER STORY's nomination is the first Hugo nod for MonkeyBrain Books and the husband-wife braintrust of Chris Roberson and Allison Baker. The book was a team effort, and it's all the sweeter to share this nom with them.

The thing that makes this even more dreamlike is I was first officially notified of the two(!) Hugo nominations the same day I got married (March 17). Out of respect to the Hugo process, I kept this bit of news a secret until the news broke, which it did days ago. So there you have it -- as if March 17, 2007 wasn't already my Best Day Ever, the double-Hugo nod made it absolutely surreal. Wow. It still feels like a dream.....thanks to all for their consideration, and I really couldn't be more honored to be a part of this amazing list of Hugo finalists.