Wednesday, June 11, 2008

World Fantasy Life Achievement

World Fantasy Award nomination ballots are due June 30 (voting info/ballots here, if you click "Nominations Ballot" in the sidebar). John Klima has a nice rundown of his choices, and he's got some terrific ones in all categories, including Life Achievement. His post inspired me to type up a specific one about the Life Achievement category. When you take a look at this category's history of recipients, there isn't a name in there that isn't absolutely worthy. It's a terrific list, but there are very few illustrators represented (Frazetta, Cartier, Wilson, and Fabian, so far) in the award's 32-year history. Several major fantasy illustrators are very deserving and I'll be voting for two, and I offer the following for voters' consideration this month. Each ballot may nominate up to two for Life Achievement.

Moebius/Jean Giraud -- he was Guest of Honor last year at WFC and if you aren't familiar with his body of work, I feel for you (see picture above). It's hard to imagine a medium that hasn't been influenced by his visions. He's one of the founding fathers of METAL HURLANT (which became HEAVY METAL in the US), creator of BLUEBERRY and ARZACH, film designer, comics visionary....a giant whose work transcends country and translation. My favorite Moebius memory was back in '97. I did a signing with him and Mike Moorcock when I was first starting out, and Moebius' line of fans went on forever. When I was done signing (didn't take long), I stood behind him and watched over his shoulder as he graciously did a little sketch in everyone's book who approached him. The sketches were 15 to 30-second line drawings, but each was clear, crisp and absolutely unique....landscapes, vehicles, figures, portraits....he never repeated himself -- not once. It seemed as if a projector was mounted to his forehead and he was tracing the pictures that came out. So graceful and so effortless.

Jeffrey Jones -- Robert Weiner curated an awesome display of Jones paintings from his personal collection at last year's WFC. If you saw it, it was truly a herculean effort on his part and I was glad to see so many people reminded of the fundamental power of Jones' work at its best. Her body of work spans five decades and the piece depicted here was painted in the late '90s, reminding us that Jones remains one of the most evocative fantasy painters ever.

Leo & Diane Dillon
-- Hugo Award-winning husband and wife team whose illustrated books have also won the prestigious Caldecott Medal (two consecutive, in fact)....their body of work spans six decades and include covers for seminal fantasy books by Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Joan Vinge, Garth Nix and countless others. The Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame and the Spectrum Grandmaster Award already include the Dillons amongst their immortals. They're worthy of WF Life Achievement not only for their adult genre work, but for their body of work for childrens' books. I'm surprised they haven't already received this.

Virgil Finlay -- his b/w scratchboard illustrations are amongst the finest ever in fantasy. Finlay died in 1971, but his best work has a surreal tone that seems as potent today as when it was first published. Virtually every major pulp magazine sported work by him and he did some of his most timeless drawings for WEIRD TALES. He's definitely one of the most influential b/w fantasy illustrators of the 20th century.

Alan Lee -- it's hard to think of Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS books without thinking of Lee's visuals at the same time. Along with John Howe, he's well-known as a conceptual designer for Peter Jackson's LOTR films, but even if he wasn't associated with those films, his delicate pencil and watercolor work would still be the definitive imagery of the LOTR canon. That said, I also think John Howe would be a deserving Life Achievement candidate one of these years....what fantasy illustrator has done more to explore the mythic history of armor and combat than Howe?

Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't include Michael Whelan. He's the only individual to ever win three consecutive World Fantasy Awards in the Artist category and no one else will ever repeat that feat because they changed the rules thereafter to prohibit consecutive-repeat winners. He's not only one of the greatest genre painters ever, but he's one of the field's most gracious ambassadors as well. He's a shoo-in one for World Fantasy Life Achievement one of these years. However, despite his epic body of work, he may in fact still be too young for consideration. Ditto Bob Eggleton -- still young and still kicking ass, even though his body of work could probably already be deserving. Just a matter of time for both of these guys....

My personal picks this year for Life Achievement -- Moebius/Jean Giraud and Jeffrey Jones. I hope one or both of them are inducted this year, but I'd applaud any of the above.

Anyone have any other illustrator names that should be considered? Or non-illustrators for that matter?


Blogger ces said...

Both Michael and Bob's work is wonderful! Michael is the first "fantasy" artist whose work I ever took notice of. I'm not that familiar with Bob's, but the few I've seen in various blogs were very nice.

7:01 PM  
Blogger John Picacio said...

My favorite Eggletons are when he's channeling J.M.W. Turner.....he's got a real knack for sinister, tumultuous half-seen/half-unseen landscapes. He's got a great blog here:

12:31 AM  
Blogger ces said...

Thanks for the url!

11:13 AM  

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