Friday, June 29, 2007

Edwin Austin Abbey

Last summer I stumbled into a series of Edwin Austin Abbey murals while on vacation in Boston -- he instantly became one of my favorite artists. David Apatoff has posted a series of Abbey drawings on Illustration Art that are a sight to see.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Richard Serra at MoMA

Richard Serra did a quick interview on my local public radio station in which he talked about creating some of the works exhibited at his MoMA retrospective as a means of reconfiguring an architectural space into a sculptural space. Whatever. What the show is, is fun. You wouldn’t think giant slaps of steel would be so much fun, but here it is.

The work truly pulls you through and into itself. I kept walking as fast as the crowds would allow -- hugging the walls and dreaming of vertical skateboarding -- and occasionally loosing balance and falling into the sculpture. (Which is a little scary since they are entirely freestanding and only 2 inches thick.) Other works lead you into little sanctuaries that made me want to nap, or picnic, whichever. And then there were the two pieces out in the courtyard which we got to late in the afternoon --the steel retained the heat from a day in the sun creating a cozy force field around it. (A big “Thank you” to the guard that was particularly polite about telling us not to touch.)

There are few shows that engage the viewer as much as this. Sure, you can talk about scale and balance and integrity of materials but the real fun is in giving yourself over to it and letting it take you for a walk...or just wishing you could nap inside of it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Radio Freefall

Whoops. My bad!

I see that SFSignal has a very nice review of Radio Freefall. I also see that they, and Tor's own website, are showing an older version of the cover. The Tor site will be updated tonight. In the meantime, to show off the actual cover, I post.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Visiting Day at Tor

I got a surprise visit from John Scalzi yesterday. We talked a little bit about the cover for his new book – a new story arch in the “Old Man’s War” universe. We’ll keep John Harris on the series but, perhaps, try to do something with the layout to set it apart from the story arch that concluded with The Last Colony. Nothing radical, just a subtle something to cue the reader that they don’t need to have read the other three books first.

David Grove is being inducted into the Illustrators Hall of Fame tonight. He stopped by the office yesterday for a quick Tor tour. I’ve worked with David for a few years but this is the first time we’ve met. I have to say, it makes a big difference in the working relationship when you have a personal connection with the artist. Face-to-face contact is to email what an original painting is to a jpeg -- not necessary to get the job done but it makes doing the job a whole lot more enjoyable. It turns out that David is a charming guy who is quick to laugh and has some strong opinions. In other words, excellent company.


John Scalzi with Pablo Defendini, mass market cover designer. (And Whatever and Art Department commentator.)

David Grove and Heather Elmer.

Team Wolfe in my office, left to right: Greg Manchess, who did the covers and interior drawings for Gene Wolfe’s Wizard Knight series. David Hartwell, Gene Wolfe’s editor, showing off an early galley of Pirate Freedom. David Grove, who did the covers and interior drawings for Soldier of Sidon and Pirate Freedom.

Dear Santa,...

Due out this Fall. "With one cover on every page, 700 Penguins is a full-colour, sensuous delight."

Via Première de couverture

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Winter 2008 Catalog

We just wrapped up the Winter 08 hardcover catalog. Tor puts together three catalogs a year which means four months of book covers need to be completed by one date each season. Of course it always gets a bit hairy towards the end and inevitably things get tweaked as the season progresses. I say “tweaked” in both less and more, sometimes much more, generous terms.

I think we are in pretty solid shape this season -- thanks, always, to my incredible staff. Seriously. These guys are amazing. Great designers that never seem to get flustered with all the changes and last minute additions. Our unsung hero, especially around catalog time, is Vanessa Paolantonio. Besides her own design work she has the thankless job of keeping the rest of us on track. (Hmmm, it may be time for a group “Yay us!” lunch.)

Now that the catalog is done the next thing that happens is the sales conference. At that point, any of the covers can still get nixed if our reps feel they just aren’t hitting the mark. Often we get away clean — by now we have been trough a number of dress rehearsals for that meeting -- but it’s not uncommon, either, for one cover to be completely scrapped at that point. We’ll see how well we do in August .

Here are a few random Winter 08 covers.

In the Court
of the Crimson Kings: Sequel to The Sky People. Art by Greg Manchess. Anytime we can make sci-fi pink is a good time.
in the Sky: Peter Lutjen has set up this nice series template for four Asimovs reprints we will be publishing throughout the next year.
: This took many iterations but the final, with all it's foily goodness, looks pretty great. Thanks to Howard Grossman. (You can't see it here but the final is printed over foil, matte finish with spot gloss on the type, and embossed.)

Space Vulture
: Taking a page out of Hard Case Crime's play book -- pitch perfect retro art by Glen Orbik.
Spider Star
: First time working with Daniel Dociu. A pleasure to work with -- we’ll be seeing him many covers in the future, I'm sure.
The Boundless
Deep: Eerie and pretty. Thanks to Jamie Stafford-Hill.

And a trio of nautical themes:

David Grove for David Keck’s In a Time of Treason
Shelly Wan for Misty Massey’s Mad Kestrel
Donato Giancola for Kathleen Bryan’s The Golden Rose

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Stephan Martiniere on CGSociety

CGSociety has a nice profile on Stephan and the work he is doing on Stranglehold by Midway Games.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Hurray for Weekends

...but that was yesterday.

This week on The Art Department I will try to get to:
Rebecca Guay and Scott Fischer at RISD.
Winter 2008 covers sneak preview.
And a quick message to recent grads.

I state this publicly because it’s stuff I’ve been meaning to get to for a while – maybe now I will.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Spectrum 13 Wins Locus Award

A big congrats to Cathy and Arnie Fenner for winning the Locus Award for Best Art Book of 2006.

"It really is exciting and, at the same time, humbling to receive the Locus....How can we not feel honored, for ourselves but also on behalf of all of the artists who participate in Spectrum and make it possible in the first place? It's very much a 'shared' award." Cathy Fenner

Full story on the Spectrum News paage.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Proving, once again, that I’ll do anything for a sandwich....

FIT’s Vincent di Fate and Melanie Reim asked Charles Hivey, the publisher of 3x3 Magazine, Viki Morgan, of Morgan Gaynin Illustration Representatives, and me to do a portfolio review of their inaugural graduate class. We started in the FIT gallery where we saw exhibits from each student, then gathered in a conference room to review their portfolios. I was a bit nervous about the idea of critiquing a group of students that have already spent a number of years as professional illustrators but I think our troika did a decent job of it. The work was excellent and clearly the students had formed a tight bond throughout the two year program. It lead to a very engaged and nurturing atmosphere. I almost feel guilty -- I think I learned more from the conversation than I was able to impart. And the sandwiches were excellent! Even better were the cookies.

As an aside: If I know anything about illustration it’s Vin Di Fate’s fault. He was one of the first artists I commissioned when I started at Tor. A number of years ago I asked if i could sit in on any “history of” lectures he might be giving. Rather than crash a lecture he graciously invited me into the full semester’s class and at some point he introduced me to the Society of Illustrators. Truly, he is someone as interested in inspiring others as he is in his own work.

My Alma Mater Wuz Here

On Friday I had lunch with the awesome Shelley Eshkar, designer of many a Tor book. (The Androids Dream, Eastern Standard Tribe, etc.) We met as freshmen at Copper Union. Later in the day I decided to check out the Copper year-end art show. Not only had the exhibit closed the week before but fully one third of the campus is now a giant pit. Ok, so the "campus" was only three buildings to begin with, but still. And down the block, Dojo Restaurant has shut their doors. Without $2.95 soy-burger sandwiches, I never would have survived art school.

Oh well, the plans for the new building are very sci-fi -- kinda looks like stepping into a Stephan Martiniere painting. OK, this might be fun.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Shawn Barber, CCA Visit

I should rename this blog, “Dinning With the Art Department.” I’m such a sucker for a good meal. Here is Shawn Barber and Chris, Uno, and Dan Dos Santos, and I at Agra -- my favorite hole in the wall Indian restaurant. Shawn is an amazing painter currently working on a series of portraits of contemporary artists and their tattoos. He is in town this week taking his California College of Art class to various publishers and artists' studios. Besides treating us to lunch, Shawn gave us a quick preview of his new art book due out this fall. (His current book, Tattooed Portraits, is available from 9mm Books.) After listening to how hard Shawn works it is clear how he has gotten as good as he is. Later in the afternoon we met up with the students at Tor and Dan and I gave a tag-team lecture and portfolio review.

A Sunday Walk

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Happy Birthday, Steve and Nancy!


Spectrum has revamped their website -- and with it they have released the cover to Spectrum 14. I'll be making the "News" section a regular stop.

"We intend to try to make the site a regular and frequent stop for browsers, with added information about Spectrum, the annual competition, the other projects we're involved with, and about the fantastic art community as a whole. News and information will be added regularly and we might even slip in the occasional editorial or humorous commentary."

(Anyone that knows Arnie will be looking forward to those commentaries. He is, in fact, very funny and has an opinion or two...or three, or four.)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Charles Addams

Society’s latest acquisition – Charles Addams.

We didn’t have an Addams in the collection before so I am rather excited about this addition.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Spaceman Blues, the Alternate Covers

At BEA Brian Francis Slattery asked about how we came to the cover of his Spaceman Blues novel. I had to admit that I loved the book way too much to touch it myself so I handed it over to Peter Lutjen –- Tor’s amazing senior designer. When Peter first showed me the comps I was still too attached to the book to really see them clearly. I finally understood what I suspect our editors often feel, not to mention the authors. If I remember correctly I think I made Peter do revisions on some of the alternate versions before suddenly realizing that one of the original comps -- the top one pictured -- was simple, direct, and perfect for the book. Brian seems to agree. Let's hope readers do.


“I really loved this book, but have had a very difficult time trying to describe it to people, and found it equally challenging to come up with a cover to do it justice. There is an incredible rush of imagery right from the start of the story, and it never really lets up throughout. With so much great material to work with, my initial attempts ended up a bit too cluttered. I hope the final jacket is just suggestive enough of the weirdness and chaos inside.”

Student Shout Out

A group of students from Brigham Young University–Idaho came through for a lecture today. Nice folks with good questions and great work. They should all thank their professor, Wade Huntsman, for setting up a week of lectures that made me real jealous I can't pass as a student and follow them around town for the rest of the week. (And thanks again for lunch, Wade!)

ILLUSTRATIONS: Luc Steadman, Jennifer Tolman, Tyler Davis

Monday, June 04, 2007

Art Out Loud 5: Comics!

It's time for Art Out Loud 5. We've done painting swapping, we've done digital, we've gone it’s time for comics. Klaus Janson, Mike Oeming, and Paolo Rivera will demonstrate their technique while the audience gets to mill about them and ask questions. DC and Marvel Comics will be reviewing portfolio submissions throughout the demo.


Noon - 4:00 PM
The Society of Illustrators, 128 East 63rd Street, New York, NY 10021
$25.00 – Students and SI members / $35.00 – Non members

For tickets, contact the Society of Illustrators at:
212.838.2560 or
(Please note: All previous Art Out Loud events have sold out so order your tickets early.)

Klaus has been working in comics for over 30 years, most notably on Daredevil and Batman:The Dark Knight Returns. Klaus has literally written the book on how to draw comics. His DC guides to Penciling/Inking are staples in the industry. Currently a teacher a the School of Visual Arts, Klaus is sure to be as informative as they get.

Best know for Powers, Mike is one of the few comic artists whose work goes beyond the drawing table. Not only has his art graced the pages of comics such as Judge Dredd and B.P.R.D., but he also has written issues of Thor, Ares, and Red Sonja. His unique style of art and storytelling are beautifully realized in his current creator-owned comic Cross Bronx.

Best know for his Mythos series for Marvel comics, Paolo does what few other artists can: Working in tradition mediums such as gouache and oils, he paints entire issues front to back. His knack for realism, and knowledge of color theory is enough to make the most seasoned of pros envious.

[Report on Art Out Loud 4 : Jim Bennet, Greg Manchess, and Garyy Kelley. Report on Art Out Loud 3 : Donato Giancola and Todd Lockwood.]


Well, lots of fun was had with too little sleep to be be able to say anything interesting, so, I’ll just do this as one long picture caption:


Patty Garcia and Jennifer Kaufler at the Tor booth • The floor, or one small part of it anyway. • Lou Anders at the Pyr booth.

Joe Monti (one of my favorite peoples) and me • Brian Heller manning the St Martin’s Press booth • Brian Slattery at the “ “NYC Visions” panel.

Friday Night dinner with Arnie Fenner. Arkady Roytman, Arnie, me, Dan Dos Santos, and Donato Giancola. This was a great and relaxing way to start the weekend off. Arnie and Cathy are hard at work putting Spectrum 14 together while I am in pre-Spectrum Exhibition 2 freak out.

Saturday night George Mann of Solaris Books hosted a reading with Chris Roberson and Gail Z. Martin. Which turned into an delicious, if not decadent, sushi dinner. Which somehow ended at a Belgian bar. (Thanks again, George – it was a great evening!) I’ll probably get a few of these names wrong but, what the hell, the picture is too dark to tell anyway: LEFT TO RIGHT: Chris Roberson, Vince, Gail Martin, Ellen Datlow, Lou Anders, Me, Liz Gorinski, George Mann, Brian Slattery, Karen.