Tuesday, March 25, 2008

2008 Hugo Finalists!

I was halfway across the country when the announcement went official this past Friday. So I finally get to say it here:

I'm thrilled to be a 2008 Hugo Award Finalist in the Best Professional Artist category and honored to be in the company of Bob Eggleton, Phil Foglio, John Harris, Stephan Martiniere, and Shaun Tan. Here's the complete list of 2008 Hugo Awards Finalists! Congrats to all nominees in all categories, and it's a pleasure to be amongst you. Needless to say -- I was already planning to attend Worldcon in Denver, but this makes the trip even more special. Hugo pro art nominees are now asked to provide three examples of eligible work from the past year, for voters' consideration. According to the site, online and printed ballots will be available shortly. My art selections are posted on the ballot, but you can also scroll down a full, easy rundown of my 2007 work on this blog, at the right, under "My 2007 Cover Illustrations". Thanks again for the kind consideration, and it's an honor to be a Hugo nominee!

SF Signal: Mind Meld

SF Signal runs a popular feature called Mind Meld where they query sf/fantasy folks about general questions and issues. This time, they asked "As an illustrator, what was it that drew you to science fiction and fantasy to begin with, and what place do you feel illustration has in the science fiction and fantasy field?"

Todd Lockwood, Dave Seeley, Jeremy Geddes, Donato Giancola, Glen Orbik, Bob Eggleton, and I responded. This Mind Meld post went out Wednesday, but I'm only now getting to read it for myself. If you haven't read it either, check it out! :)


While I was in Seattle last week, L.E. Modesitt Jr.'s new hardcover collection VIEWPOINTS CRITICAL was released from Tor. Cover illustration by me. I saw the finished book for the first time when I did my signing at University Bookstore. I'm very pleased to say that while I was away, I received three emails from folks saying they bought the book because of my cover art. Thanks! :)

This book's a heckuva "greatest hits" short story collection from Modesitt and the stories span the length of his career. Modesitt fans will love it. Hard sf readers will love it. Folks who believe "God is in the details" will love it. I wish I could remember who did the design on this jacket, but when I receive comp copies, I'll look for the name on the jacket flap. The finished print job (gloss vs. matte decisions, especially) turned out very nice....so hat's off to the designer and I'll blog again about this when I get your name. Final note: I would've posted the finished book art with the type, but I noticed that Amazon's thumbnail image has whacked-out color and looks weird. So rest assured, the book looks good, and looks like the image seen here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Home again, home again....

....jiggedy-jig. Traci and I are back home after an unreal and amazing week in Seattle. A few highlights:

1. Our 1st anniversary -- March 17th: we arrived in Seattle. Pike Place Market was even more fabulous than we expected. Il Bistro was as romantic as it gets. However, our highlight was the Six-Seven at the Edgewater Hotel. Yes, it's the place where the Beatles famously fished out of their hotel room window. However, Traci and I will instead remember it for its picture-perfect views of Elliott Bay, great happy hour drinks (homemade gin and tonic!), elegant modernism, and the super-cool Edward Scissortree decor.

2. Three days of food, sun (yes, sun in Seattle in March), and sights -- A few Seattle faves on our 1st journey there: Serious Pie (fabulous wood-fired gourmet pizza); the Dahlia Lounge (decadent triple coconut cream pie); Seattle Mystery Bookshop; Seattle Paperworks in Pike Place Market; Piroshky Piroshky (smoked salmon pate piroshky -- we lust for these pastries even now); the amazing Zanadu Comics flagship store; and the mind-blowing Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum (thanks, Therese!!). :) Monorail and EMPSFM pictured above.

3. University Bookstore: the great and powerful Duane Wilkins calls the shots for sf/fantasy at this super-mecca. One of the most diverse and thoughtful selections you'll see anywhere, as well as one of the most badass graphic design shelves I've ever seen in any bookstore. I signed there Wednesday night along with Patrick Rothfuss, Naomi Novik (in town for her first-ever GOH appearance -- go, Naomi), and some very cool new friends (mad shoutouts to them below).

4. Norwescon 31 Highlight #1: Jeremy Lassen (or as he prefers -- Jeremy Fuckin Lassen)...Jeremy and I have known each other a lot of years but Friday night at Norwescon was downright surreal. I still doubt it actually happened...probably a waking dream. It went something like this: I dreamed that I was in a sprawling labyrinthine hotel and there was a huge con going on, full of costumed freakery floating through the halls. Jer was pimping large in one of his signature zoots and he and I were trolling the halls together looking for friends and parties. We encountered the following sights along our journey: an auction for slaves and chocolate (WTF?); a hotel room where nurses in tight-fitting uniforms offered handmade sushi; across from the nurses, a blacklight room with pounding techno music and lots of black leather in the shadows; a party with a sign on the door that required a $50 cover charge for entry and when we opened the door, a guy sat on his bed staring at his TV (we promptly pivoted and scurried away...fast); a generous and festive Radcon room party; and a visit to Maxi's atop the hotel where we were completely alien to the R&B clubbers, yet Jer was ogled approvingly by the ladies in the house for his pimp threads. However, none of this could prepare us for The Party At The End of the Universe at the La Quinta Across The Street. One word -- bacchanalia. Sheer. Unadulterated. Bacchanalia. Heaven help the poor souls in this hotel that WEREN'T attending Norwescon. This wasn't a party; this was an Animal House techno-rave in Wonderland, and Alice lost her mind five drinks ago. Imagine dark, pounding goth/techno dance floors packed with costumed flesh, connected to a gigantic outdoor party tent where a lone barman serves all manner of libations to more costumed masses unleashing their inner freak. Lots and lots of costumes, and lots and lots of inner freak. Like I said, it probably didn't really happen and in fact, was all just a dream....

5. Norwescon 31 Highlight #2: New friends....The-Force-of-Nature-That-Is-Cherie Priest; her super-cool husband Aric; Mario Acevedo (homeboy! See you down the road for sure); Kat Richardson and husband Jim; Richelle Mead; Caitlin Kittredge; and Mark Henry.....you folks are a pleasure to be around. You know you're with pros when you hear the following...."I've gotta get back to my room and work on my workshop material" (Caitlin Kittredge transitioning seamlessly from partyhopping-to-business at 12:30am...damn, that's pro....); "....so, yeah, after I finished my second masters degree...." (super-cool Richelle Mead gracefully and graciously lets me know that one of us is probably a member of Mensa, and it's not me); and "the titles of my books so far are X-RATED BLOOD SUCKERS, THE NYMPHOS OF ROCKY FLATS, and THE UNDEAD KAMA SUTRA" (none other than Mad Mario Acevedo). You people rock. Holler anytime....

6. Norwescon 31 Highlight #3: Jon Armstrong....pictured left in a psychic staredown match with editor/publisher Lassen at the PKDs....his book GREY (Night Shade Books) was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Awards on Friday night, along with six others including Adam Roberts' GRADISIL (Pyr) and Sean Williams' SATURN RETURNS. Jon didn't win on this night, but I suspect he'll have awards victories aplenty in future. A hilarious guy, and a pleasure to hang out with all weekend.

7. Norwescon 31 Highlight #4: Jay Lake and Ken Scholes....Jay was awesome as always. That was a fun dinner at Roasters!! (Special shoutout to the guy that covered the tab for the whole freaking table of 12....his name was Scott, right? Scott (if I have his name correct) also managed to sport one of the coolest utilty belts ever, with flasks of prime whisky at the ready....I salute you, sir.) Congrats to Ken on his forthcoming first book from Tor....go, man, go.

8. Norwescon 31 Highlight #5: Adrienne Loska....who raised over $3400 at Norwescon, for Alzheimer's research with her Match-It-For-Pratchett efforts. Wow.....way to go, Adrienne!

9. Norwescon 31 Highlight #6: Dan and Karen Simmons....Traci loved Dan's book THE TERROR and we very much enjoyed our quality time with these good folks. Great meal at Dave's Diner on Sunday night and Traci and Karen even managed to escape the con and hit the Seattle Art Museum on Saturday (for which I was very jealous).

10. Norwescon 31 Highlight #7: WEIRD TALES' 85th Anniversary Party....congrats, WEIRD TALES!!! Good times.

Whew....Norwescon 31 was a blast, and the con's smofs and conrunners know how to do a show the right way. 3000-plus attendees this year and going very strong. Doug and Pat Booze -- you put on a terrific art show. William Sadorus, Sunny Jim, and Tracy Knoedler -- you made everything look easy, and Traci and I can't thank you enough for your hospitality. Jordan Orr and Walt Thomas -- thanks for making the slideshow work smoothly! Don Glover -- that's one of the classiest con booklets I've ever seen. Top to bottom -- this con was a joy and worth the effort to travel all the way from Texas. Maybe we can do it all over again another year soon!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The SPECTRUM 15 Artist List

Via Irene Gallo, I've seen the artist list for SPECTRUM 15, edited by Arnie and Cathy Fenner. Good news -- I'm on the list! :) Not sure which piece was selected, but I'll know in due time. Congrats to everyone else who made the cut as well.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Coming soon to Seattle

Hey, Seattle -- I'll be there soon. Here's where you can find me:

Wednesday, March 19th / 7pm
University Book Store
4326 University Way NE / Seattle / WA / 98105 / 206-634-3400 (Event made possible by the mighty Duane Wilkins of University Book Store....see you soon, Duane!)

Featured guests include Mario Acevedo / Warren Hammond / Richelle Mead / Naomi Novik / John Picacio / Cherie Priest / Patrick Rothfuss / Bruce Taylor

I'll be signing copies of ELRIC: THE STEALER OF SOULS as well as my hardcover artbook COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO.

Following that, I'll be at NORWESCON 31 (March 20-23). My schedule:

THE INVERTED FANTASY HERO / Thursday 9pm / Cascade 4
Panel discussion about turning "bad" character types and monsters into sympathetic protagonists and why we still love anti-heroes.
Mario Acevedo (M), Michael Ehart, Christopher Konker, Mimi Noyes, John Picacio

FROM PAGE TO SHELF / Friday 1pm / Cascade 9
Panel discussion of the publication process and timeline in major SF/F publishing.
John Picacio (M), Steve Winter, Dan Simmons

AUTOGRAPH SESSION / Saturday Noon / Evergreen 1 & 2

JOHN PICACIO SLIDE SHOW / Saturday 2pm / Evergreen 4

Seattle's a long way from here, so unfortunately, I don't make it there often. If you're in the area, don't be a stranger. :)

Philcon Calling!

Great news! I'm the Artist Guest of Honor at Philcon 72, the Philadelphia Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy, November 21-23, 2008. Philcon's the longest-running literary sf con in America, and I'm proud to be a part of it this year. I've never been to Philly before, so if anyone has recommendations (eats, shops, sights, etc.), let me know. More on this show, as details solidify....

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Chimaeracon 2008

I'll be there Saturday, March 15. The con is billed as a "South Texas Gaming Fest" which is generally not the kind of con I attend. However, Gilder McCarroll was kind enough to invite me and since it's in my hometown, why not? Should be good times. I'll have a dealers table and some assorted works for sale. If you live here in San Antonio or the surrounding area, come check it out as this is the only 2008 appearance I've scheduled for SA (for book signing and such, that is). :)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Here's to you, Richard Powers

...and to all of your fellow 2008 Inductees into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame -- Ian & Betty Ballantine, Rod Serling, and William Gibson. If you think that's Richard Powers the novelist, you've got the wrong Powers. I'm talking about Richard Powers, the seminal sf artist about whom John Clute said: "When we think of 1950s science fiction, we may see Kelly Freas, but, when we dream, we dream Richard Powers." Powers' art is bar none, amongst the most powerful and influential work in sf history. His work expanded the possibilities of sf art beyond the limits of pulp.

And yet despite his mighty influence on the trajectory of sf cover art for the 50's, 60's and beyond, Powers was never formally recognized by any of sf's major accolades, including the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist. I'm not an expert on Powers, and his career long preceded mine, but I suspect he probably didn't care much about awards. So perhaps it didn't matter to him that the field for which he gave so much, never formally recognized his body of work.

Fast forward to 2007 -- I was asked to be one of the judges for the Science Fiction Hall of Fame's 2008 class of inductees. I was not only honored to be in the company of my fellow judges, but delighted to make the case for Richard Powers. He wasn't inducted by me. He was inducted by our whole team, as were the other inductees, which were sometimes fiercely, but thoughtfully debated. It was a team effort -- Charles Stross, Ellen Datlow, Nancy Kress, Michael Cassutt, Ellen Asher, Robin Wayne Bailey, and me; that was this year's judging crew. Congrats to all of this year's inductees and their families; I was proud and humbled to be part of this process. Richard Powers -- wherever you are -- as of June 21, 2008, you'll forevermore be a Science Fiction Hall of Famer, the formal recognition your work deserved all these years, and will now deservedly have.

(pictured above: Richard Powers' cover illustration for Edmund Hamilton's THE STAR OF LIFE)