Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back home from Apollocon '08

Good times in Houston this past weekend at Apollocon. Pyr's Lou Anders was the Editor Guest of Honor this year, so I couldn't miss the celebration. It was Lou's first GOH opportunity and I'm sure he'll have many more in years to come. Did panels with Lou, Chris Roberson, Patrice Sarath, Alexis Glynn Latner, and lots more good folks. Quality time with lots more, including John Denardo and JP Frantz of SFSignal fame, Fan GOH Anne K.G. Murphy, Shanna Swendson, Mikal Trimm, Allison Baker, Scott Cupp, Author GOH Allen Steele, and Jayme Lynn Blaschke. Props to the con com for a well-run show.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Chesley Noms / SF Awards Watch

Nominations for ASFA's 23rd Annual Chesley Awards are due June 30. As of yesterday, Science Fiction Awards Watch offers illustrators a comment forum to inform voters where their 2007 art can be seen for consideration. I'm filling out my own Chesley ballot right now and admittedly, I'm straining for ideas in categories such as Unpublished Illustration/Monochrome, Product Illustration, and Gaming Illustration. A ton of terrific work out there, but it's a little unwieldy to find eligible work by cruising tons of websites. SPECTRUM is a phenomenal print resource, but it's one glorious slice of a bigger pie. The current available volume, SPECTRUM 14, contains works published or created in 2006, so unfortunately, a lot of it isn't eligible for current Chesley consideration. Mark Kelly does a terrific job at Locus Online with this database of book covers from '07. Hopefully, illustrators will drop comments at SFAW and let voters know where to find their eligible work. FYI: A glance at my 2007 published work can be found in the sidebar at right and here. Big thanks to SFAW for giving illustrators this opportunity.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Here you go -- my final cover art for Random House/Del Rey's forthcoming trade paperback, ELRIC: THE SLEEPING SORCERESS by Michael Moorcock. If you're keeping score at home, this will be Book Three in Del Rey's six-volume Elric series and it'll be a December release. Here's a few pertinent details for the first three books:

by Michael Moorcock (Book One) -- cover art and interiors by yours truly; available now.

ELRIC: TO RESCUE TANELORN (Book Two) by Michael Moorcock -- cover art and interiors by Michael Kaluta; available late July '08.

ELRIC: THE SLEEPING SORCERESS (Book Three) by Michael Moorcock -- cover art seen here, by yours truly; interiors by Steve Ellis; available early December '08.

If you're curious and haven't seen this yet, here are my pencils that I previewed last month. So now that this cover's finished, I move on to do the cover and interiors for Book Six in this series, which is a real honor since I'll get to bookend the run. This stuff is so much fun....

Monday, June 16, 2008

Giugno 2008

Zoom....already halfway through the month of June....just realized I have a copy of Delos Books' 2008 calendar here in my studio and look what just happens to be the featured art for the month of "Giugno". Of course, this illustration of mine first debuted here in the US as the wraparound cover for Lou Anders' 2003 breakout anthology LIVE WITHOUT A NET. Last year, Delos Books bought the Italian rights to use it for the cover of their venerable sf mag ROBOT, as well as this Italian calendar appearance. Very cool....hard to read the fine print on my low-res jpeg, but here are a few sf notables: June 2 -- Lester Del Rey's b-day back in 1915 (I'll be doing a big Lester Del Rey cover project later this summer) / June 9 -- Joe Haldeman's b-day / June 25 -- the debut of one of my all-time favorite films BLADE RUNNER, back in '82 / June 29 -- b-day of the great Michael Whelan.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Page 123 / Sentence 5

Tag from John Denardo at SF Signal who clearly must have plenty of free time on his hands (and clearly thinks I have the same). ;)

So the latest meme going around has the following instructions: "To participate, you grab any book, go to page 123, find the fifth sentence, and blog it. Then tag five people." Here's mine....from L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s new release VIEWPOINTS CRITICAL, now available from Tor, cover illustration by yours truly....this is from the story, "Black Ordermage", page 123, sentence 5:

"Two of them looked at me the way Mamaw might have looked at a plump chicken."

So now I'm supposed to tag five people. I'm sure these people don't have busy professional lives either....
* Lou Anders
* Chris Roberson
* Paul Cornell
* Cheryl Morgan
* David Louis Edelman

Friday, June 13, 2008

Help Borderlands Books in San Francisco

They're still going strong and still one of the finest independent bookstores in the US. Right now, they're trying to build a cafe next door to their store and in an age of chain bookstores, e-books, and Amazon Kindles, I believe indy stores like Borderlands need all the support we can give them, or we're in danger of losing their warmth and personal service for good. On a cheerier note, I can only imagine how fabulous a cafe would be next to Borderlands. They need a city-approved conditional-use permit to do so, and Cheryl Morgan is helping with an online petition you can sign that would help Borderlands' cause. Doesn't matter if you live outside of San Francisco, or even outside the USA -- your name still counts. Take a second, and help out, OK? And a special shoutout to any authors who have done signings at the store and who have been supported by Borderlands (ahem...John Scalzi, Cory Doctorow, Jeff Ford, etc.....) -- please sign the petition, and then you might even blog about it and spread the word. Besides signing the petition, I'm also nominating Alan Beatts, Jude Feldman, and Borderlands Books for the World Fantasy Award / Special Award (Professional). They're an integral part of the fantasy lit community and they've been a steady bar of retail excellence for years. I encourage other World Fantasy voters to consider them when they fill out their ballots this month.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Czech Mates

Just arrived in the mail today from the Czech Republic -- comp copies of the Czech editions of A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, as well as a Dan Simmons short story collection, both sporting cover illustrations by yours truly. Laser-Books is the publisher, and both printings look great. (Thanks, Martin!) The design for the Simmons collection is especially interesting....they did a little inset of my full illustration and combined it with a detail from the same illustration, along with another detail used as a muted background. Wow -- I've never seen a cover design like that, but it works well. The printing is cool because the big detail of the face and the full inset illustration are both printed gloss, while the background is printed matte. I like it! I'll now proudly shelve these along with my Hungarian edition of CANTICLE. :)

One last note -- sharp-eyed folks might notice that the cover illustration for the Simmons collection originally appeared on the cover of the US edition of George Zebrowski's MACROLIFE, published by Pyr. Laser really wanted to use this illustration, and even though I have the legal copyright to resell the illustration for other foreign usages, I'm really careful about reselling images for books that are in-print elsewhere. I was reluctant to sell the Czech rights for the illustration, but when I ran the notion by Pyr's editorial director Lou Anders, he gave his blessing. So thanks, Lou....if you wouldn't have given the green light, this wouldn't have happened.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

John W. Campbell Award Finalists

Congrats to all John W. Campbell Award Finalists (Jay, Lou, Ian....great to see your works in there, fellas). There are two awards in science fiction that are called "the Campbell Awards", and this one is the juried award for Best SF Novel, presented at the Campbell Awards Conference in Lawrence, Kansas (not to be confused with the one for Best New Writer, presented at the Hugo Ceremony every year).

Amongst this year's finalists, I'm especially pleased to see two books that I cover-illustrated -- Rebecca Ore's TIME'S CHILD and Sheri S. Tepper's THE MARGARETS, both published by Eos. Awesome. :) Big congrats to Diana Gill and Jennifer Brehl over there.

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?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Strolling & Mind-Melding

First the Mind-Melding....(thus, the appropriate Spock cover by yours truly pictured left). SFSignal has posted the following Mind Meld question: What do you feel is the primary purpose of a book cover: To accurately reflect the story or to visually 'sell' the book? How do you balance these two ideas when creating a cover? Responses by Bob Eggleton, Bruce Jensen, Irene Gallo, Boris Vallejo, Dave Seeley, Todd Lockwood, Dan Dos Santos, Glen Orbik, and me. Check it out.

Now for the Strolling....Stu Segal is organizing what he hopes will be a yearly tradition at Worldcon: "Stroll with the Stars." It's Stu's initiative to bring "a healthy attitude" to Worldcon. It's a 9am, one-mile walk through the Worldcon city of Denver, and in a moment of temporary insanity, I accepted Stu's invitation to join the list of lunatics.....err...luminaries, which includes Frank Wu, David Brin, Jay Lake, Ellen Datlow, Lou Anders, Paul Cornell, Scott Edelman, Mary Robinette Kowal and Stephen H. Segal. I'm not sure how healthy I'll be spending every night of Worldcon in the hotel bar, but at least one of the mornings, I'll be able to walk off the calories in style. So bring your sneaks, and your alarm clock, and join us! :)