Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2012 ASoIaF Calendar Release Day

Today’s a big day. The 2012 A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE Calendar releases across North America, courtesy of Bantam. I created all twelve months’ worth of artwork. When Bantam hired me, they said they wanted my vision of George’s A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE books. Meanwhile, HBO was creating a TV series based on the books, and production had begun. I made a conscious effort to not look at what they were doing, so I could keep my vision independent. George himself felt strongly that these Bantam calendars should reflect the artist’s vision of his books, and should be their own entity, completely separate from the TV series. I’m grateful for that.

All of my artworks in this calendar are a hybrid of traditional pencil drawing and traditional paint, digitally composited together. I love drawing with pencils on a piece of good Strathmore illustration board. Working up those original underdrawings, through the buildups of color, and on to the final layerings, was a labor of love.

I lived in Westeros for many months while doing this work. It was one of the greatest trips of my life, to date. I learned a lot. I would return again in a heartbeat. Thanks to the family members and friends who were my reference models and helped me channel my visions into better drawings and paintings.

Today’s a day to celebrate. Feast your eyes on all twelve calendar images below – revealed for the first time -- along with my brief thoughts about inspirations, insights, and makings. Enjoy!

Bran Stark (January)

I love when I see artists illustrate an unwritten moment in a story, or an unspoken beat between sentences. For this artwork, Bran Stark is completely at peace, at the blind side of the First Keep, high above Winterfell.

Jon Snow and Ghost (February)

It's hard to say which one I enjoyed drawing more -- Jon Snow or Ghost. They're two of my very favorites in the series. Night’s Watch black, albino direwolf, and powder white snow – those elements never fail to reward simple picture-making.

Daenerys Targaryen (March)

The key challenge to drawing Dany is combining naivete and compassion with pride and strength. That’s a fine line to balance. For me, one of her most resonant scenes is what happens at the city of Yunkai.

Robb Stark (April)

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA is one of my all-time favorite films. I love the way David Lean could make a closeup feel both intimate and epic at the same time. I thought about that a lot when I was drawing this picture.

Arya Stark (May)

“Stick ‘em with the pointy end!” My daughter, Samantha Kate, was born during the making of this calendar. Her feistiness was my inspiration while drawing Arya. This one is dedicated to my 1-year-old little beastie, and to all fierce daughters everywhere.

Tyrion Lannister (June)

Tyrion’s my other favorite besides Jon Snow and Ghost. When I turned in my rough sketches, George noted that Tyrion’s beard and long hair were missing. He reminded that, by the time of the Battle of the Blackwater, Tyrion has not only grown out a scraggly beard, but has shaggy hair. Strangely, my reading had never pictured him that way, but it was true. Once I revised that, the important thing to me was conveying the inner Tyrion, not just his outer form. Tywin Lannister may not believe him a lion of Lannister, but I do.

Melisandre (July)

A tip of the hat to Gustav Klimt and Robert McGinnis -- two very different painters, but I’ve always admired the way both of them paint women. Those paintings have timeless soul and power. I wasn’t interested in this picture looking like their work, but that strength of character was an aspiration.

Jaime Lannister (August)

The zodiac symbol for Leos is the lion. I couldn’t resist featuring a Lannister for this month. If you search the books for specific passages featuring Jaime in battle, there aren’t many. And yet, in our mind’s eye, we always know what a brash and fearsome warrior he is. If I was Eddard Karstark or Daryn Hornwood at the battle of Riverrun, I imagine this is what they saw.

The Mountain vs. The Red Viper (September)

Once I had assembled my initial grocery list of characters and ideas, George then contributed his own small wish list. The Mountain vs. the Red Viper was one of several good calls on his part. Thanks, George.

Sansa Stark and The Hound (October)

Beauty and the Beast! This one is for all of the fans who are passionate about these two. The Battle of the Blackwater is raging outside, and with the strange light of those wildfires, and this ghoulish face, what better time to feature the Hound than a season of fall leaves and Halloween?

The Others (November)

Not many artists have tackled the Others yet. Some versions tend to depict them almost like Tolkien’s Ringwraiths, which never matched the images George’s words conjured in my head. Instead I saw them as more ghostly and ethereal. I knew I was on the right track when George asked the comic book artist for GAME OF THRONES to seek out my version for inspiration.

Eddard Stark (December)

Winter is coming. ‘Nuff said.

George and I will be appearing all weekend at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. We'll be appearing at AA21 from 3p-5p on Friday. Calendars will be available at my booth #4600 all weekend, as well as Random House's booth #1515. All ASoIaF and Game of Thrones fans should stop by and visit.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Comic-Con 2011 Schedule

San Diego Comic-Con 2011 is almost upon us. I'll be boothing along with fellow artist Dave Seeley at #4600 all weekend at the show. On Wednesday, July 20th (Preview Night), I'll be at the booth from 7pm to 9pm only. From Thursday onward, I'll be there most hours from open to close. At the start of each day, I'll post on Twitter and Facebook the detailed daily hours you can find me there.

Dave Seeley will have a full arsenal of his big, beautiful archival prints for sale.

As for my own goodies, I'll have the following merchandise:

* 2011 Limited Edition 4-panel accordion booklets: Brand-new items debuting at SDCC! Only $2 each, or free with purchase.

* 2012 George R. R. Martin / A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE Calendars! Debuting next week. I'll have a limited supply. Get 'em before they're gone!

* MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY ART: A beautiful new art book featuring galleries and interviews with artists such as Donato Giancola, Charles Vess, Brom, Shaun Tan, Greg Manchess, Stephan Martiniere, Dave Seeley and myself. Limited supply! Get yours signed, as many of the artists in the book will be at the show. :)

* COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO: A few remaining warehouse copies of my 2006 Hugo-nominated art book.

* Archival prints of my artwork on thick Hahnemuhle paper

* Original interior artworks for sale from ELRIC: THE STEALER OF SOULS and ELRIC: SWORDS AND ROSES

Mark #4600 on your SDCC survival map. (Diagram below is last year's floor plan, but we're in the exact same location next to the SPECTRUM booth.) We'll see you there!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New! 2011 Limited Edition for Comic-Con

Just got these in this week, hot off the press -- a 4-panel accordion fold-out that will debut at Booth #4600 at San Diego Comic-Con next week. It's 14" unfolded and folds neatly into 3.5" x 5.25" booklet, containing all of the above -- front, back, and interior. Price? Tiny. Only $2 each, or one free with purchase. Come and get 'em, while they last.

And what else will I have for you? I'll have limited supplies of the 2012 George R. R. Martin / A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar. You'll also find limited supplies of the brand-new MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY ART, which includes interviews and galleries with stellar artist Dave Seeley (my boothmate at #4600), and Yours Truly. I'll have archival prints of recent works for sale, as well as some of the last warehouse copies of my 2006 art book COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO. I'm planning to bring some original Elric interior artwork for sale too.

Take note -- Dave and I will be offering discounts on Preview Night. I'm offering 25% on the MASTERS and COVER STORY books. During those select hours, Dave will be discounting much of his merch, including his gorgeous giant prints. Swing by #4600 on Preview Night and save money.

FYI -- my merchandise will be available at the booth from 7p to 9p on Preview Night. I won't be there between 5:30p to 7p, as I'll be taking my teenage nephew around his first SDCC. I'll post my Thursday thru Sunday schedule once I get there, but I'll be around the entire weekend.

Shoutout here if you're gonna be at SDCC, so I don't miss you! See you there! :)