Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye, 2007

Hey, '07 -- you were a heckuva year. Before you head out forever, a tip of the hat to all my pals and associates who shared the last twelve months with me. Time to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. One final look at a few '07 highlights from this corner of the universe:

January -- COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO (MonkeyBrain) finishes on several "Best of 2006" lists, including SFSignal and RevSF.

February -- My covers for Rebecca Ore's TIME'S CHILD (Eos) and Lou Anders' FAST FORWARD 1 (Pyr) hit the streets. The STAR TREK/CRUCIBLE trilogy completes with the release of CRUCIBLE: KIRK -- THE STAR TO EVERY WANDERING by David R. George III. COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO is one of the best art books of 2006, according to Locus Magazine's Recommended Reading List.

March -- Traci and I married on March 17th. Hands-down, one of my favorite days ever. On a sidenote, I'm notified that same day that I'm a finalist for not one, but two Hugo Awards -- Best Professional Artist and Best Related Book. Hard to beat March 17, 2007 as the best day of my entire year. Traci and I begin our double honeymoon in Toronto and following that, I'm the Artist Guest of Honor at the World Horror Convention.

April -- Traci and I finish our honeymoon in Europe. We first travelled to the Netherlands where I was one of the special guests at Elf Fantasy Fair in Utrecht, along with Brian Froud, David Anthony Durham, Chris Geere, Lou Ferrigno, and Prof. Roland Rotherham. Following that episode of the Surreal Life, Traci and I moved on to London where we have a glorious time, despite how badly the American dollar sucked.

May -- Chris Roberson's X-MEN: THE RETURN is in stores everywhere. I grew up on X-MEN comics, so illustrating this cover was a dream come true.

June -- George Alec Effinger's A THOUSAND DEATHS debuts with my wraparound cover illustration. I'm invited to the Seattle to have the great honor of inducting Ed Emshwiller into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. As if that weren't enough, COVER STORY is a finalist for the Locus Award for Best Artbook, and I win the Locus Award for Artist -- something I never dreamed would happen. Wow, wow, wow. (And my San Antonio Spurs win their fourth NBA Championship(!), with mass insanity and partying in the downtown streets, not far from our home....:))

July -- Paul Cornell's BRITISH SUMMERTIME releases from MonkeyBrain. Traci and I travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma where I'm the Artist Guest of Honor at Conestoga 11. Soon after, I discover I'm a finalist for two Chesley Awards -- Best Paperback Cover (A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ) and Best Magazine Cover Illustration (INTERZONE #204).

August -- I attend the always-terrific Armadillocon in Austin, TX, which is close to home here in San Antonio, and then travel the furthest distance of my life two weeks later, when my buddy Lou Anders and I head to Japan for the World Science Fiction Convention. I'm not sure if we were prouder that we were both 2007 Hugo Finalists, or that we both survived the 72-hour blitz through Yokohama. Awesome, unforgettable, and we now have cherished friends in Nippon.

September -- I'm a first-time finalist for the British Fantasy Award for Best Artist, along with Vincent Chong, Les Edwards, Dean Harkness, and Edward Miller. Vinny claims the prize -- congrats, Vin! Sometime during this period, I complete the last of the interior illustrations for the forthcoming (Feb. 2008) release of Michael Moorcock's ELRIC: THE STEALER OF SOULS (Ballantine/Del Rey), a huge ongoing effort which I was working on throughout the twelve prior months, along with my other cover work. More news on this after the New Year....

October -- Michael Moorcock's THE METATEMPORAL DETECTIVE (Pyr) debuts. So does 2007 Hugo nominee Bruce McAllister's collection THE GIRL WHO LOVED ANIMALS AND OTHER STORIES (Golden Gryphon). Traci and I attend my 20-Year high school reunion (Holmes High School, San Antonio, '87), and the utterly surreal occurs when the geeky kid who couldn't get a date (me) is voted "Most Successful." A strange life, no?

November -- World Fantasy Con, Saratoga Springs, NY....I'm a finalist for the World Fantasy Award in the Artist category, along with Shaun Tan (congrats!), Jill Thompson, Jon Foster, and Edward Miller. That same weekend, I win the International Horror Guild Award in the Artist category, becoming the first artist to win the IHG twice.

December -- Traci and I celebrate Michael Moorcock's birthday at his release party/booksigning for THE METATEMPORAL DETECTIVE. Mike Resnick's STARSHIP: MERCENARY debuts. My last finished cover work of the year is one of my most ambitious -- the triptych for Jeffrey Ford's WELL-BUILT CITY trilogy which will release next fall in trade paperback from Golden Gryphon.

Whew -- (deep exhale) yeah, 2007, you were unforgettable. Bring on '08. To everyone out there -- thanks very much and best wishes to you on the other side of the New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Day 4: The Four Days of Ford

Here's the full unabridged cover triptych for Jeffrey Ford's forthcoming WELL-BUILT CITY trilogy. Final dimensions 19"H x 36"W x 4"D. You're looking at the art for all three covers as they should appear when the front covers sit side-by-side (sans ornate frame). Jeff intended these novels as a set so the cover art reflects the same. Golden Gryphon Press designer Lynne Condellone will be doing the typography design on these and I'm curious to see what she comes up with.

A few words about the making -- thanks to Jan at New Century Graphics who did yeoman work photographing the final art, even though she was suffering through viral pneumonia. Way to hang in there, Jan. Many thanks to Gary Turner at Golden Gryphon Press for keeping the faith and allowing these covers to find their way. We made it to the finish line, Gary! Throughout 2007, the making of these covers has been interspersed between the making of all of my other cover art this year, including the massive work for the first Del Rey/ELRIC book. In some ways, the WELL-BUILT CITY triptych has been like my little vacation when I would need a 20-30 minute break from another illustration. I would paint a little here, glue a couple of pieces there, and dream about what this thing would be when it's done.

I've always wanted to be an illustrator that straddles between media, and who can be adept within different contexts. So I may be most proud of the fact that while I was working in the found-object / assemblage / oil-painted reality of THE WELL-BUILT CITY, I was simultaneously Faber-Castelling my way through the finished pencils on the ELRIC interiors and at the same time, doing my traditional/digital combinations with covers like Michael Moorcock's THE METATEMPORAL DETECTIVE; Lou Anders' FAST FORWARD 1 anthology; Bruce McAllister's THE GIRL WHO LOVED ANIMALS, and a boatload of other covers. I'm not unique in being able to bounce between media and contexts simultaneously, but I do think it's increasingly important to what I do. One problem-solving context can unexpectedly inform the other when you least suspect it.

A couple more notes -- the work for these three covers would not have been possible without the imagination of Jeffrey Ford. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- if I wasn't already working in this business, I would still be collecting this guy's writing because he's one of my favorite authors on the planet, bar none. Thanks, Jeff.

And lastly -- Jaime Bishop, this one's for you. I've asked Golden Gryphon to please respectfully dedicate these covers to your memory. You and I never knew each other. We never met. We were aware of each other's work, but on the day you passed away, I learned that we were not only both cover illustrators for companies like Golden Gryphon, but shared some very similar interests and influences. When I was working on this piece, I thought about what you said about what artists are supposed to do in this world, and when I struggled and got tired, I thought about it even more. We both passionately believed that art could change the world for the better. I still do, more than ever.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Day 3: The Four Days of Ford

Just completed -- the cover illustration for Jeffrey Ford's THE BEYOND, a 2008 Golden Gryphon release. As soon as I finished reading the book for the first time, I knew what the major painting should look like for this one. Took a couple of drafts though before I got the execution right. In the end, it was worth the effort. Materials: Oil painting / vine / silk butterflies / acrylic / ink / wood / found objects / hand-built assemblage / no digital. Much more tomorrow!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Day 2: The Four Days of Ford

Continuing the Four Days of Ford:

Just completed -- the cover illustration for Jeffrey Ford's THE PHYSIOGNOMY, releasing in trade paperback from Golden Gryphon Press in fall '08. Materials: Oil painting / calipers / vine, roses & morning glory / acrylic / ink / wood / found objects / hand-built assemblage / no digital.

The calipers were found in Spitalfields Market/East London back in April. Traci and I were honeymooning there and touring Jack the Ripper's old stomping grounds. We had the best time that day. I think Traci found these calipers. I knew they'd be perfect for THE PHYSIOGNOMY. We still crave the little pies at the Square Pie Company in Spitalfields....steak & Guinness....mmmmmm....more Ford tomorrow....

Friday, December 21, 2007

Day 1: The Four Days of Ford

Not quite the Twelve Days of Christmas, but hopefully, a festive occasion you'll enjoy all the same. I've been obsessing over a particular cover job for a while now, and it's now completed. I'll unveil my finished work over the next four days here on the blog.

Next fall, Golden Gryphon Press will release Jeffrey Ford's THE WELL-BUILT CITY trilogy in spiffy new trade paperbacks. Here's the front cover illo for Ford's MEMORANDA. Materials: Oil painting / hourglass / gears / bird / acrylic / ink / wood /found objects / hand-built assemblage / no digital. More tomorrow....

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Been away from the blogging for a while. This month, Pyr released the third book in Mike Resnick's STARSHIP series, STARSHIP: MERCENARY. I've illustrated all of the covers thus far, and I'll soon start working on the fourth in the five-book series, STARSHIP: REBEL. Can't wait! (pictured left: the third book, STARSHIP: MERCENARY; pictured below, the first book, STARSHIP: MUTINY and the second, STARSHIP: PIRATE...collect 'em all! :))

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Raves for Michael Moorcock, Part II

More raves for THE METATEMPORAL DETECTIVE....award-winning author Jeff Vandermeer (SHRIEK: AN AFTERWORD) writes a column called Omnivoracious for and he highly recommends four sf/f books for the 2007 gift-giving season, and yep, one of them is Mike Moorcock's THE METATEMPORAL DETECTIVE. Elsewhere, Dusk Before the Dawn offers a story-by-story breakdown and tags THE METATEMPORAL DETECTIVE as an "excellent collection." (Bonus! Both reviews offer love to the cover art as well.:))


Great times in Austin, Texas yesterday...Mike Moorcock and I signed copies of THE METATEMPORAL DETECTIVE at BookPeople, the largest independent bookstore in Texas. Mike did a short reading from the book, and then answered a wide range of questions from the audience. Amongst the topics discussed -- the origins of Elric; his theories on magic; the status of the developing Elric film project; his relationship with the Weitz brothers; his days with Hawkwind; why people should read Barry Bayley; and much, much more.
After that, we signed lots of copies of THE METATEMPORAL DETECTIVE and hey, even some copies of my artbook, COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO. Mike's birthday isn't until Dec. 18th, but that didn't stop us from celebrating with a decadent Chocolate Eruption cake, sponsored by THE METATEMPORAL DETECTIVE's ever-loving publisher, Pyr. Damn good. Here's what it basically looked like, but much bigger (scroll down the link above for "Chocolate Eruption").
After such a fine dessert, Linda Moorcock suggested we have dinner at Hyde Park Grill....fried egg sandwiches; buttermilk-battered fries; Kobe beef burgers; chicken fried steak; corn & cheese tamales; sirloin burgers smothered in cheddar cheese and good. If you attended the signing, thanks for coming out, and if you missed out, maybe we'll try to do it again in '08 when ELRIC: THE STEALER OF SOULS releases in February.