Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dozois: FAST FORWARD 2 = 08's Best SF Antho!

Just read the December issue of LOCUS MAGAZINE. Gardner Dozois breaks down 2008's best sf anthologies in his column, "Gardnerspace".

Gardner: "This has been an almost unprecedented year for the number of first-rate original SF anthologies published, at least since the heyday of ORBIT, NEW DIMENSIONS, and UNIVERSE in the '70's." He goes on to say, "...I'd have to say that the three strongest original SF anthologies of the year were Lou Anders' FAST FORWARD 2, Jonathan Strahan's ECLIPSE 2, and Strahan's THE STARRY RIFT...." And then the kicker, "Of these, I think I'd give a very slight edge to FAST FORWARD 2." Awesome. Congrats to Lou and all of the contributing authors! Proud to have done the cover art for this one. And speaking of LOCUS, if you aren't a print subscriber yet, have you heard they've got the October issue online for free? Seems they may start making the print mag available on a web-subscription basis. Let 'em know what you think!

Friday, November 28, 2008

I've got a face over at Facebook.

I managed to hold Facebook at bay all this time, but officially succumbed this week. Lots of friends friended me after I foolishly signed up in August, but with all the work deadlines at the time, I wasn't able to get the ball rolling until this week. So thanks to everyone who was patient with me. Now I've finally got a profile photo and a list of very cool friends. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back home from Philly (Part 2 of 2)

(pictured L to R): Traci Picacio; Mary Robinette Kowal; Richelle Mead. My previous entry covered the tourist half of last week's Philly trip; this time around -- the Philcon Experience. I was Artist Guest of Honor so I didn't take many photos at the con, and wish I would have. It was a great con weekend -- all of my panels were lively and fun to do; my slideshow presentation was well-attended and went off without a hitch; sold some work in the Art Show (not to be taken for granted in a tough economy); met lots of new folks; and even won a couple of merit awards in the Art Show, including "Best In Show/Popular Choice" for the cover art for ADVENTURE, VOL. 1.

(pictured L to R): Elspeth Kovar; Serena Powers; Tim Powers; Dennis McCunney; Traci Picacio. The great Jeff Ford was in the house on Friday night and it was terrific to hang with him as always. Never tried a Whiskey Sour before I had a few Friday night, but now I know why Ford likes 'em so much. HarperCollins/Eos editor Diana Gill dropped by Sunday and it was great seeing her as ever. Pleasure spending time with Richelle Mead, Mary Robinette Kowal, Andrew Wheeler, Alan Beck, Greg Frost, Ray Ridenour, Bud Sparhawk, Jane Jewell, Michael Walsh, Diane Weinstein, Gary Frank and wife Nancy, Keith R.A. DeCandido, John Grant, and many others. Spent quality time with Principal Speaker (Author GOH) Tim Powers and his wife Serena once the show was over, and in a taxi to the airport. Like a cappella singing? Check out the Chromatics. Missed 'em while I was judging the Masquerade but they were the intermission entertainment. Will catch up later via YouTube.

Special Guest Scott Christian Sava of DREAMLAND CHRONICLES fame was kind enough to bestow copies of his illustrated books to both me and Tim at the show's end. Thanks a bunch, Scott!! Being GOH at a show like Philcon makes you grateful to all the volunteers who work hard to make it happen. Shoutouts to the entire Philcon Committee, but especially to Mark and Margaret Trebing, David Silber, Eric Gasior, Rock Robertson (thanks for the help with the slideshow!!), Terry Graybill (who produced some terrific promo bookmarks and palmcards), Nathan Lilly (nice job with the program book!!), Filthy Pierre, Shirley Avery, Martin Deutsch, Byron Connell, Diane Kovalcin, Rob Himmelsbach, Tina Connell, the Wombat, Rhea Hoch, Gary Feldbaum, Debby Lieven, Christine Norris, Suzanne Rosin, and more. Dennis McCunney was the Hotel Liaison, but seemed to be more than just that and in more places than one at the same time. He was awesome. Thanks, Dennis! Mad props to Joni Dashoff and Andrea Senchy who made the Art Show a success. Joni taught me and Traci what a "jug handle" was and made me realize that driving in Europe is probably easier than navigating the back roads of Jersey. Last -- I've gotta give huge props to Todd Dashoff who really seemed to wear ten hats all at once and seemed to always come through in the clutch. It was a pleasure being in their midst this past weekend and with all members of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society. Loved it, and look forward to returning to Philly, somewhere down the road.

Back home from Philly (Part 1 of 2)

Traci and I are back home from a whirlwind week in Philadelphia and Philcon in Cherry Hill, NJ. This report covers the tourist side of our trip, in the days before Philcon. The next report will be the Philcon experience. Without further ado, some highlights!

WIZ WIT: We arrived in Philly three days before Philcon. It was our first visit to the City of Brotherly Love so we wanted tourist time. First stop: Pat's King of Steaks to sample the local cuisine. So much hype about Philly's legendary cheesesteak sandwiches. So much said that it wasn't a genuine Philly experience unless you ordered it "wiz wit", which means with Cheez Whiz and with onions. So I did. Verdict: pretty good, but I still wasn't quite sure about Philly's love affair with Cheez Whiz. So I did the natural thing when unsure about cheesesteaks wiz wit, and after just exploding my daily cholesterol count -- I finished it and went to Jim's Steaks (visiting bookstores along the way) and ordered another cheesesteak wiz wit. Verdict: Pat's was good. I like Jim's better. Tastier onions. Better balance between all the flavors. Current cholesterol count after two Philly cheesesteaks in one afternoon: off the charts. Epilogue: we later talked to lots of native Philadelphians about cheesesteaks and not a single native liked Cheez Whiz, or would even go near the stuff. Go figure.
Traci abstained from the whole cheesesteak thing and we decided later that evening to hit the Continental Midtown which was fabulous. Crazy 50's moderne decor, basket chair-pods hanging from ceiling chains, huge calamari salads, lobster mac & cheese, and yummy sidecar drinks. After a long dinner, we had a nightcap up on their roof deck and it was the end of a great first day.

WORLD-CLASS: Maybe Cheez Whiz wasn't such a big hit for us, but the Philadelphia Museum of Art sure was. I expected it to be pretty good, but it was truly one of the best museums I've seen. Good Picassos, Braques, Bocklins, Dalis....great ones by Degas, Toulouse-Latrec, Turner, Van Gogh, and Rubens. The only disappointment was Duchamp's NUDE DESCENDING A STAIRCASE was loaned to Paris and wasn't there. Definitely one of the ones I wanted to see, but overall, what a great museum. We managed to hit an exhibition of Frank Gehry's design process over at the Perelman, and later, the Rodin Museum, which was tremendous -- especially THE GATES OF HELL (detail photo seen above).

LIFE IN THE SHIRE: We spent time with Joe McCabe (editor of and his photographer wife Sophia Quach. Joe will be moving to LA next year because of his job, but he loves Philly. He said he feels like living in and around the town is like "living in the Shire." Personally, I can see why, when urban murals like the one above are part of the everyday scenery. This wasn't what Joe was talking about when he made the comment, but I've never seen a better piece of urban mural than this one (created by Meg Saligman). Just part of everyday life in Philly.

MORE URBAN MAGIC: Philly's Chestnut Park reminds me of Paley Park in NYC -- a secluded green oasis in an urban jungle. Love this gate designed by Christopher Ray, and the funky animal sculptures sprinked throughout. This wasn't a planned destination, but just surprised us out of nowhere.

STRANGE BIRD: Loved this bird, which is a detail from the same gate (seen in the upper right corner of the sculpture).

WEDNESDAY WITH WYETHS: I'm a huge admirer of the work of N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Harvey Dunn and Dean Cornwell. Really, you can't go wrong with any of the Brandywine artists, or with Andrew Wyeth. So Joe and Sophia took us out to Chadds Ford, and the Brandywine compound, where we visited the Brandywine Museum. The museum has a little beeper that sounds off when visitors get too close to the paintings. I set the beeper off a lot when I saw paintings like the TREASURE ISLAND one above. Didn't care either. I've stared at these in books for years, so seeing the originals up-close was a huge experience. We visited N.C. Wyeth's house and studio as well, and it made me want to fly home right there and get back to work. So inspiring.

BE AFRAID: Had to show these. Joe works in the Comcast Center which dominates Philly's skyline and downtown. That's currently where's corporate offices are. This is their bathroom signage.

LIBERTY & INDEPENDENCE: Our last tourist day in Philly was largely spent visiting the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (the Hall seen in background here behind the Bell). In previous days, we'd had several meals at Reading Terminal Market, and we did another lunch there (DiNic's and Bassett's). For the most part, I hate formal tours, but we did a brief one for Independence Hall, and it was well worth it. All and all, Philly's a tremendous town! Philcon Report in the next blog entry...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Where I'll be at Philcon

This coming weekend is Philcon in Cherry Hill, NJ. I'll be the Artist Guest of Honor up there, and I'm excited about it. If you're headed to the show, here's where you can find me when I'm not in the Art Show or the hotel bar.

Fri 8PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)
Panelists: D.E. Christman (mod), Alan Beck, Sally Wiener Grotta, John Picacio
Technical stuff we love to use to create our art.

Sat 10AM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)
Panelists: John Picacio (mod), Alan Beck, Joseph L. Bellofatto, Jr., J. Andrew World
Many artists are using different methods to get to the finished product. Are traditional methods like drawing and sketching obsolete, or sorely missing?

Sat 11AM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)
Panelists: Alan Beck (mod), John Picacio, Joseph L. Bellofatto, Jr., Ruth Lampi
Artists discuss artists that have influenced their work and lives

Sat 3PM in Grand Ballroom A (1 hour)
Panelists: John Picacio (mod)

Sat 4PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)
Panelists: John Picacio (mod), Alan Beck, Joseph L. Bellofatto, Jr., Ruth Lampi
With all the technology out there, are conventions a profitable venue for artists? Do fans value the art shows?

Sun 12noon in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)
Panelists: Emily Kwait (mod), Heidi Hooper, Mary Robinette Kowal, John Picacio
Information on the dos and don'ts of getting your art to the right people in the right place

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shoutout to Philly & The East Coast

Hey, Philadelphia!
I'll be in your town next week and I'm bringing the biggest public display of my artwork I've ever assembled. It'll all be at Philcon (which is actually across the river in Cherry Hill, NJ), where I'm this year's Artist Guest of Honor. Most of the works will be for sale, and there will be framed originals as well as framed prints in the collection. It's my only East Coast trip this year, so if you're in the area, I'd love to see you (Nov. 20 thru Nov. 23)! If you've got books or covers you want signed, bring 'em on as well.

Question for you, Philly -- what are your favorite local restaurants and eateries, especially in the downtown Philly and surrounding areas? And yes, the first stop when I get off the plane will be to get real Philadelphia cheesesteaks. I've received a couple of very reliable reviews already (thanks, Diana! :)), but I'm open to everyone's feedback. It's my first trip to Philly.... who's got the best cheesesteaks? Best pizza? Any great indy bookstores? Any 'can't miss' unique weirdness?

Veterans Day '08

Best to all Vets out there....all who've served, and all who currently are! Both of my granddads served in WWII and I think of them today. One other comes to mind today -- Mr. Thomas Kustelski. His son Tom and I have known each other since the 6th grade -- by far the oldest friendship I have. Yesterday was one of the toughest days for the elder Kustelski. He said goodbye and buried his great wife of 55 years, and mother of his nine children of which my buddy Tom is the youngest. Add to that -- today's Mr. Kustelski's 76th birthday and he's a great American military veteran. As tough as yesterday was, today might be even tougher for him. So I'm thinking of him.

The artwork is an oil painting/shadowbox assemblage I did for REALMS OF FANTASY MAGAZINE several years ago. They asked me to illustrate a wartime ghost story called "Last Tour of Duty" by Devon Monk and this was my solution. Still one of my favorite early works...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Monday, November 03, 2008

WFC 2008 in Calgary

Back home from the Great White North, where this year's World Fantasy Convention unfolded in Calgary. I'm bushed. A few hours of sleep, and then it's back to work. Some photo highlights:

OUR GANG: (l to r), Karen Jones; Lou Anders; Paul Cornell; me; Chris Roberson; Jennifer Heddle; Allison Baker... good times at Earl's, Sunday night, post-WFC Awards.

HORSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR: Marjorie Liu and me in front of the coolest thing I saw in Calgary all weekend -- a scrap metal stallion too brilliant for words.

ART & LIFE: Talking about both with Shaun Tan (left) was one of my con highlights. Love the way his work keeps searching and evolving. My pal Justin Ackroyd is an uber-mensch for bringing me a first-edition of Tan's new book TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA all the way from Oz.

CAMPBELL QUEEN & EVERCLEAR KING: Campbell Award winner Mary Robinette Kowal -- elegant as ever; John Klima -- locked and loaded for another night of hard boozing. Klima was nominated for two World Fantasy Awards this year. Although he didn't win this year (much as I wanted him to), his star's rising and his day's coming. Meantime, Klima says another bottle of 96 proof Polish Everclear is just the ticket to ease his pain. Next year, JK, next year....

GOOD TIMES: (back, l to r), Graham Joyce, me, Marjorie Liu, Nikki Kimberling; (front), Paul Cornell.

PARTY LIKE A ROCK STAR: Or at least like an Artist Guest of Honor... the great Todd Lockwood shows young upstarts how the pros do it. That's a bottle of Macallen 18 Single Malt Scotch, courtesy of Borderlands Books' fabulous Scotch-tasting Party. OK -- true confession -- much as I'd love to say Todd pounded that entire bottle Amy Winehouse-style, he was actually hard at work with his GOH duties and barely made the party in time to savor the bottle's last tiny drops.

THE SCARIEST SIGHT THIS HALLOWEEN: Diana Rowland (author of the forthcoming MARK OF THE DEMON) becomes Sarah Palin. Check out her button though -- apparently even the Gov'nor knows who this country needs right now. (Destiny knocks -- look who's on TV right when I snapped the photo... and yes, please vote on Tuesday, if you haven't already! :))

WHERE'S ANG LEE WHEN YOU NEED HIM?: Graham Joyce says he can't quit you.

DAZZLING & DASHING: Jude Feldman & Alan Beatts at the World Fantasy Awards... their first time as highly-deserving finalists for the World Fantasy Award (Special Award / Professional)... although they didn't win (congrats to Pete Crowther), they looked damned good. :)

Final thoughts -- shoutout to Kim Greyson for working his tail off and being the epitome of hospitality. Was weird for me not to be in the Art Show this year, but it was with good reason, and I'll be back with art next year in San Jose. Speaking of art -- great times not only with Shaun Tan and Todd Lockwood, but fellow illustrators Mike Dringenberg, James Beveridge, and Martin Springett. Huge congrats to Edward Miller, otherwise known as Les Edwards. I didn't win the World Fantasy Award for Artist, but he did and it was well-deserved. Cheers, Les! Too many friends to count at this show, and great to see all of them, which is what makes WFC what it is -- a few who weren't pictured above, knowing that I'll inevitably forget someone -- Liza Trombi, Amelia Beamer, Diana Gill, Christian Dunn, Mark Newton, Marc Gascoigne, Jeremy Lassen, Jetse De Vries, Rani Graff, Laura Anne Gilman, Daryl Gregory, David Anthony Durham, Kay Kenyon, Louise Marley, Steve Jones, Mandy Slater, Gigi Gridley, Jim Minz, Lee Modesitt, Mark Teppo, Farah Mendlesohn, Adrienne Loska, Jacob Weisman, Jerad Walters, Tony Richards, and many more..... Another WFC in the books! Hope to see you in San Jose next year for the next one. Now, time to crash...