Monday, August 29, 2011

Bubonicon 43

Back home from Bubonicon 43 in Albuquerque, NM. Was Artist Guest of Honor there along with Stephen Leigh and Ian Tregillis. Bigtime regional sf/f literary con with as much major-league talent as any, including George R. R. Martin, Paul Cornell, Mario Acevedo, Connie Willis, Melinda Snodgrass, Daniel Abraham, Sam Sykes, Diana Gaboldon, Carrie Vaughn, Walter Jon Williams, Ty Franck, Steven Gould, Jane Lindskold, Suzy Mckee Charnas, S.M. Stirling, and more. Had quality time with friends Stephen Boucher, Janice Gelb, Parris McBride, Vincent Docherty, Anne Grey, Caroline Symcox, Harry O. Morris, and Derek Paret. Got to visit three Albuquerque eateries -- the Flying Star Cafe, Los Equipales, and the Pope Room at Buca di Beppo, where GRRM traditionally brings Bubonicon guests for a big Saturday night Italian feast. That was a great evening, and a lot of laughs.

Terrific weekend all around -- had big audiences for the 2012 A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar panel conducted by GRRM and me; for the State of the Art panel conducted by Tregillis, Abraham, Snodgrass, Acevedo, Sykes, and me; and for my Artist GoH slideshow. Bubonicon fans go all out on costumes and with Steampunk as the theme this year, there was a lot of quality in the house.

Attendance this year topped last year’s. The t-shirts featuring my artwork of their Perry Rodent mascot sold out. All of the 2012 AsoIaF Calendars in the Dealers Room sold out. Well done, Bubonicon. :)

Craig Chrissinger and Kristen Dorland were the co-chairs and they ran a terrific con. All of the pros I know have always spoken well of it. I now understand why. Was it a perfect con? No con ever is. But the measure of a good one is the energy and buzz during the events and after. This show had it in spades. Bubonicon is vibrant, vital and full of passionate people who care about sf/f books and arts. Hats off to the entire con com for a job very well done, and thanks to everyone who was there! :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Worldcon 2011 Wrapup

Been slammed here since I returned from Worldcon. Reno's in the rearview mirror. Bubonicon looms ahead.

A few thoughts about the 2011 Worldcon:

1. Congrats to the Renovation concom: This was amongst the most dynamic and diverse Worldcon programming schedules I've seen at a Worldcon. So much good stuff. Jim Mann, Laurie Mann, and Ian Stockdale deserve so much credit along with their hard-working programming team. They were a well-oiled machine. Patty Wells was the chair and ran a top-notch Worldcon operation.

2. Huge congrats to Colin Harris, Anne Grey, Patty Wells and all who made Art Night and the art programming a major success. I think there's room to grow and improve upon what they have started, but it's a MAJOR victory on their part to plant a much-improved seed for art to build around at Worldcon. Giant applause for their victory. For the first time ever, the Art Show had a beautiful program book representing all of the artists in the Art Show. If you missed it, you missed a beautiful object that will be a collectible down the road. They put a lot of work into the art effort, and Worldcon is better for it. I think some of the organizers were disappointed that more artists and more audience weren't in attendance to appreciate how good this convention handled its artists and art, but that comes with time. It doesn't happen overnight. Artists have to make hard choices when it comes to conventions because of huge expenses and limited resources. So hopefully Worldcon will continue to earn status as a major art destination. Renovation took a huge positive step in that direction.

3. Whomever was responsible for doing the big banners in the Exhibit Hall -- major applause to you. I'm thinking Patty Wells and Colin Harris were involved once again. Having the Artist Guest of Honor's artwork used in that way rallies the entire convention to feel like Worldcon "owns" that giant space. It raises spirits and shrinks the scale of an otherwise cavernous hall space. It makes art central to the Worldcon conversation, and it celebrates Boris Vallejo (in this case) the way he deserves to be celebrated as Artist GoH. It was a great move. Well done, Renovation.

4. Ditto the airport banners welcoming Worldcon attendees to Worldcon. Nice one.

5. As for myself -- I was everywhere. Because I needed to be. I did 13 official events for Worldcon and many more unlisted obligations. Highlights included the Art of Game of Thrones panel with George R. R. Martin and Martina Pilcerova, and my own slideshow where I talked about my process and recent works. I had to spend the first 30 minutes of that slideshow doing Q&A and thinking fast on my feet because the techs were trying to fix the projector, and yet the audience hung in, asked great questions, and by the end of the hour, I think we all came out ahead. The big applause said it went well after I blitzed through 60 minutes of slideshow in 20 minutes.

6. Artists Alley -- first time for Worldcon to do an Artists Alley in recent memory. I signed a lot of books and calendars. Had good talks with fans. It was a great idea and I hope Worldcon continues to build upon what they started here.

7. Art Show -- Personally, I did very well. A number of works went to good homes, and I won an Art Show Award for Best B/W for my Ned Stark underdrawing.

8. ASFA's Chesley Awards -- Congrats to all of the winners including Boris Vallejo who won a Lifetime Achievement Award. Well-earned, Boris! And congrats to Jon Schindehette who won Best Art Director. I was glad Jon was at Worldcon, and it was a richer experience because of him and all of the great, diverse lineup of artists and art directors who were there this year, including Lou Anders and Irene Gallo.

9. Hugo Awards -- Huge congrats to many of my friends who won on Saturday night. Lou Anders finally broke through and won. His victory was the highlight of my entire con. This man deserved this recognition long before Saturday night. I've told him congrats a million times, but again, huge congrats to him and all of the winners, including my very good friends Mary Robinette Kowal, Christopher J. Garcia, Sheila Williams, and Lev Grossman. Well-earned by all.

10. Shaun Tan -- Have to single out Shaun as he won Best Professional Artist again this year. Well-earned, Shaun. If you haven't experienced his work, your world will be better when you do.

11. 0 for 7 -- What can I say? This was my 7th consecutive Hugo nomination and 7th loss. The strange part is explaining to people that indeed I have never won a Hugo because they get confused and think I already have. One friend hugged me at the Losers Party because she thought I'd just won a Hugo. I had to calmly explain that I hadn't and never have. Very honored to be amongst the nominees as always. This loss was a tough one, no doubt.

For those that have never been nominated for a Hugo -- every year, it's a little harder to be nominated than the previous. Critics and grandstanders do what they do in the blogosphere. Agenda-pushers push their agendas. Competition gets tougher and tougher because talent gets better and better (and hooray for that!). All I, or anyone, can do is get better each year -- and just work. So the best thing from here is to move on and come back with a bigger, better body of work for 2012. Next year, my artwork for the entire 2012 George R. R. Martin / A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar will be eligible for awards consideration because it was published this July. We'll see what happens then. In the meantime, it's a long year ahead. I have many opportunities and a lot of decisions to make.

Thanks to John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Liza Trombi, Lauren Beukes, Steven Silver, Bob Eggleton and others for smart words.

13. The Brotherhood Without Banners -- thanks to everyone with the BWB that I met in Reno. They welcomed me and my work with open arms at Worldcon. My conversations with them are amongst my favorite memories of this Worldcon. Shoutouts to Stego, Lodey, Lord Mountain Goat, Xray & Mr. X, Chataya, Blackfyre, Katie, Yagathai, Leigh, Andi, Boiled Leather, RaceBannon, KSC, Secret Tarth, Whitefish, Hedgerow, RedWoman, Lacy and too many more to name in one list. I feel like I joined a family at this con. Holler anytime.

14. Lastly -- congrats to George and Parris on their amazing nuptials ceremony which Traci and I were honored to attend. And special shout to John Joseph Adams and Christie Yant on their wedding event as well.

Here are a few phone pics from my 2011 Worldcon.

Time to get back to work here!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sidebar Nation: The Interview

Sidebar Nation is my favorite podcast because it talks art, and nothing but art, and the interviews deliver the goods every time. Swain, Dwight and Adrian run the show, and they're brilliant. They KNOW their stuff and they tell it like it is. I love the chemistry between these guys and often listen to their shows when I'm working. Sidebar has featured stellar interviews with Drew Struzan, Gregory Manchess, Brad Holland, James Jean, George Pratt, Mark Chiarello, Sterling Hundley, Stephan Martiniere and many, many more.

Well, it's my turn in the chair this time around. Episode 162 features an interview with me. I had a short but very fun chat with the fellas at Dragon*Con last year (episode 136), but #162 is the most extensive podcast interview I've ever done.

When time allows (which isn't often), I'm always happy to grant interview requests, but this one was a real honor because it felt like I was just talking to friends. Except it was being recorded for the whole world to hear. LOL

Check it out. Do me a favor -- if you dig what you hear, holler at the fellas and leave a comment in the interview's comment section. Let 'em know you're out there.

Long live Sidebar Nation!