Friday, November 30, 2007

Little Brother

In May we will be publishing Cory Doctorow’s young adult novel, Little Brother.

This was a fun, if a little scary, cover for us. We always smile when to comes to Cory but this book, in particular, really caught everyone’s fancy. The whole company just fell in love with it and there was a lot of pressure to do right by it.

Peter Lutjen came up with a bunch of different designs that eventually evolved into the final. The penultimate version used a photo-realistic illustration that everyone almost loved. One last tweak of the design was to have the imagery re-drawn in a freer more organic style by Yuko Shimizu -- that seemed to unify everything to everyone’s liking.

Big thanks to Peter for staying enthused by the project through a number of iterations. I asked him if he had any thoughts on the process:

"This was a case where having an opportunity to read the manuscript was a huge help. My initial comps were based on a synopsis and some catalog copy and focused on elements of surveillance and captivity. After quite a few of these didn’t work out, I made time to read the book (which was terrific) and set off in a completely different direction. The editor came by my office to speak to me about playing up the resistance aspects of the story at the same moment that I was working on an image of kids kicking out towards the viewer. He liked it the idea immediately, and it came together pretty quickly from there."
-- Peter Lutjen

PHOTO: Editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden, author Cory Doctorow, designer Peter Lutjen..

UPDATE: Kudos from Cory on BoingBoing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pascal Blanchet

I’m excited to have just commissioned Pascal Blanchet for one of our books. I was turned on to him by the must-read art blog Drawn but figured it would be quite a while before just the right project came along....Luckily it didn’t take long at all. I’ll post the results early in the new year.

Some Covers

A lazy post...

Some covers from our Fall 2008 catalog, which just came in....The red covers.

Edge: Gustave Doré
Summer: Raymond Swanland
Autumn: Stephan Martiniere
Mars: John Harris

Monday, November 26, 2007

Those Were the Days

I didn’t do much over the Thanksgiving break (thankfully), but I did manage to read Volume One of the Uncollected Stories of J. D. Salinger – a bootleg edition of old magazine stories that had not been published in book form. Some were fantastic, others weren’t. Of note here was one character wishing himself to be elegant and suave, "like a magazine illustrator." Ahhh, to be back in the days when illustrators were household names and featured in high society gossip columns. Oh well.

Of absolutely no interest to anybody that hasn’t just read the uncollected stories of J. D. Salinger...If you go to you can see a few of the original illustrations that accompanied these stories -- none of which are particularly inspired, including this pre-Catcher in the Rye depiction of Holden Caulfield.

As an aside: Can we insert “swell’ back into our vernacular? And call each other “grand” and “marvelous”?

Bookstore Added

Tis the season for crass commercialism*, so, I’ve added a bookstore! See side panel.

Theoretically, if anyone buys a book from Amazon after linking from here, I get a tiny cut. My goal is to earn enough for a ham sandwich by the time Uno Dos Santos is painting book covers for me.

It’s pretty small at the moment, just a few titles I thought of while sitting in the office too tired and too hungry to think very well. Now that I the swing of it, I’ll try to build on it over the next week or so. Although I can’t seem to decide if it should be a boutique of a few choice books or if I should add every book that relates to the site...Hmmmmm? Annoyingly, it doesn't seem to alphabetize itself, which means a larger store would quickly become useless.

* Actually, I love the Christmas season and to anyone that complains about the commercialism of the holiday, I say, turn your televisions off!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Giving thanks for the unseasonably warm day, I took an untraditional Thanksgiving bike ride to the beach.

veryone, eat pie. Even you non-Staters out there.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America Party

Last night was the annual SFWA schmooze fest. Let me start by saying, Liz Gorinsky is a horrible influence. She’s made me stay out for more 3:00am breakfasts this month then I have in all the years since college. But besides the groggy wake up this morning, I had a great time.

Once again I got a few artists friends to bring in some work for a little mini display of sf/f art. This year we had Dave Palumbo, Tiffany Prothero, Bruce Jensen, Scott Altmann, John Jude Palencar, Eric Fortune, and David Grove. (Thanks again guys!)

You are spared the traditional food eating shot since I had forgotten my camera at that point. (Although the truth of the matter is, I only set up these exhibits/lectures/whatever for the excuse to have good meals with cool artists.) Here are some random photos of the evening:

Jozelle, F. Paul Wilson, Gordon Van Gelder, Anna Genoese, Richard Curtis, Ellen Asher, Michale Swanwick, Jim Frenkle.

Lots of Tor peeps. I think just about every department is represented here: Steven, Melissa, Kristin, Sara, Melanie, Cindy, and Liz.
• Tor authors David Keck and Kate Braillier.
• Liz Gorinski and Diana Fox.

• Jannie Shea and Andrea Senchy
-- the people that make the Chesleys and many, many convention art shows happen.


Some of the artists in attendance: Arkady Roytman, Tiffany Prothero, Dave Palumbo, Doug Beekman, Scott Altmann, Tony Palumbo.


Just testing out the "embed" feature on LookyBook -- a cool new site that lets you see, share, buy, and comment on various children's books.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Three Rabbits

Three nice bunnies I've run across.

Shaun Tan:
From Shaun's picture book,
The Rabbits.This was the first image I saw Shaun's and I just fell in love with it. The book was shown to me many years ago by Jenna Felice, an editor at Tor who passed away tragically young. It was given to her, if memory serves, by writer Justine Larbalestier.

Cathie Bleck:
I believe this was a personal work in Cathie's wonderfully organic and sensuous book, Open Spaces. More on that

Bill Carman:
I first ran across his Bill's work on Concept His site is full of great work. It would be tough to narrow down but I think the top hatted crows in the drawing section are my favorites.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dan Dos Santos DVD

I had a visit from Dan Dos Santos and Aaron Fagerstrom. Aaron has produced a number of instructional videos for Massive Black. Currently he is creating a video of Dan’s painting technique while working on a cover for new Brandon Sanderson series, Warbreaker. They did a quick interview with me to ask about working with artists in general and this cover in particular. (I dunno, I hemmed and hawed a lot -- I could be on the cutting room floor.) I’ll try to get a quick trailer when the video is ready to be released, which will be...I haven't a clue. I guess I should have figured that out before I started this. Hmmmm....

I think there should be a series of top sf/f artists all interpreting the same Bob Ross painting. I also think I need to eat something and/or get some sleep because, clearly I'm not thinking straight.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Society of Illos Lecture

A big "thank you" to all that showed up or tuned in last night. We had a packed house and I've gotten a lot of nice email this morning. I'll do a full report tonight or tomorrow but in the meantime, I'll point you to the archived video. Yes, if you have two hours that you are desperate to kill, you can watch the whole thing. Just fast forward through the "Is this thing on?" phase -- Donato Giancola and Dan Dos Santos did an amazing job, well worth watching.

Go the the Society's page and click on:
Live Broadcasting Tonight! Fall Lecture Series; Science Fiction Illustration.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Massive Black Workshop

I only know a little bit about game concept artists, but I know enough to cry when I see the line up of instructors that Massive Black has for their latest workshop. I wont be able make it to the event, but I’m regretting it already.


The North American Art and Design Workshop

January 4th - 7th

Seattle, WA

Last Man Standing 3 is on!!!!

There are hundreds of participants and thousands of spectators cheering this week. The third annual Last Man Standing competition has been announced and began registration today.


Last Man Standing is an art competition cooked up by Cody Tilson. 320 participants will battle each other by drawing and painting an illustration of a given topic. Participants are randomly paired and judged, winners moving on to further rounds until there is just one man (or, as was the case last year, one woman) left standing.

The competition takes the better part of year to complete and it’s a blast to follow. Like the Tour de France, skill will see people to the final rounds, but you can’t escape random events that will knock out some worthy opponents or give a lesser experienced artists break to take advantage of, or not. Great drama.

This year, besides including more participants than ever before, Cody has outdone himself by creating a cohesive website dedicated to following the competition -- interviews with participants, an invite to all participants to post step-by-step demos of their entries, and other goodies. Images from past events have been published in Spectrum, Expose, Imagine FX, and other places, I’m sure.

Let the games begin.

Earlier post, including a quick interview with Cody and some images.
"It was born out of my own need to get off my then-lazy ass and work towards my own artistic development, and an opportunity to include hundreds of other artists in the process." -- Cody Tilson

Saturday, November 10, 2007


What are you doing this time next year?

It’s looking like this will be the science fiction and fantasy art event of 2008. Pat Wilshire, of The Illustration Exchange, is organizing a convention dedicated to sf/f artists and collectors. Four days of demos, symposium, and, I hope, a large amount of eating and talking at the bar. He’s capping the membership at 200 to insure intimate setting with lots of interaction between guests and attendees. The guest list is pretty great and it keeps growing. And it includes many people that you don't often see at conventions: John Jude Palencar, Ashley Wood, Rick Berry, Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Michael Kaluta, the Roy Krenkel estate, and many others.

November 6-9th, 2008
Altoona, PA.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Leyendecker Lecture Online

There is a J.C. Leyendecker exhibit traveling around the Sates that is eagerly awaited by everybody I know. Tony Shasteen wrote to tell me that there is an online lecture/slideshow on Leyendecker at the The Haggin Museum website. As I write this, I am only 15 minutes into it now but suddenly the next hour at work looks a whole lot more pleasant.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Donato, Dos Santos, and I at the Society of Illustrators

Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Cover Illustration with Donato Giancola and Dan Dos Santos. Evolution of an artist and a career.

I will be moderating a discussion with Donato Giancola and Dan Dos Santos at the Society of Illustrators next Wednesday, November 14. Both Dan and Donato will be giving a quick slide show followed by an interview, followed by questions from the audience. Come on out and say hello.

Or, you can catch the streaming video at the Society’s website.

Society of Illustrators

128 East 63rd Street, NY NY

Wednesday, November 14th, 6:30 PM.

Ticket: $10.00 / $6.00 for students

Another Installment of Eating With the Art Department

There was a great convergence of artists in NY last night. John Jude Palencar was in town for the Society of Illustrators' annual exhibit judging, Greg Spelanka and Roxanne Villa were in town on their way to a lecture being given by Greg in Philly, Shaun Tan was in town doing a series of book signings between World Fantasy and a book fair in Mexico City, and Donato, well, he's always in town. And if you want a really really good meal in downtown NY, go to l'Ecole.

Shaun Tan will be signing books at:

Books of Wonder

Thursday, November 8, 5:00-7:00pm

18 West 18th Street, New York, NY

Greg Spalenka will be giving a lecture and having an opening reception:

University of the Arts in Philadelphia

Thursday, November 8

Lecture: 1:00-2:30

Reception 2:30-3:30

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

World Fantasy Con, the Rest of the Days

I meant to blog each day as it happened but, as it happened, it got way too busy, too fun, and too tiring to do so. It was a great combination of meeting new people and talking to old friends -- whether they be artists, writers, or other publishers.

It certainly had one of the best art shows I’ve seen at a convention. That doesn’t happen by accident. Kudos to the art show organizers who stated a year ago that they were working for a show that would rival the Rhode Island World Fantasy. They succeeded. The exhibiting artists were all top notch and the Jeff Jones exhibit was very sweet icing on the cake. Besides the work, a highlight of the show as having many of the artists whip out sketch pads and draw throughout large portions of the day.

Unfortunately, the artist Guest of Honor, Moebius, did not not have the most impressive display. It was just a few prints that weren’t presented well. His speech, however, was charming. He would let his thoughts meander to the point where you’d wonder where on earth could he be going and then he'd pull it all together....and then wander even further out and pull it together again. He talked a lot about surrealism and action painting. He mentioned that he discovered surrealism when he was three -- that he drew his house with a chimney and smoke when their house didn't have a chimney. "I was speaking in symbols." He talked a lot about not drawing individual characters but, instead, trying to portray humanity as a character - linking into a collective symbols.

Jane Frank moderated a panel on digital versus traditional painting. It was a bit of an unfair fight, being a panel of five oil painters and no digital painters, so I threw out some devil’s advocate statements. The main thing I took issue with was an assertion that there were no young artists left and the ones that are around are not being properly trained. To the statement, “Where are the young people?" I had to say that they were all at ComicCon, which is an incredibly rich and vibrant community of artists of all media and all ages. The sf/f cons have stagnated a bit and don't seem interested in reaching out to newer artists, but that certainly doesn't mean they are not around. And as far as training goes...I’ll leave that for another post.

I moderated a panel on “What Makes a Cover Work” with Lou Anders, John Picacio, Tom Kidd, and Jacob Weisman. I was, honestly, quite nervous. The room was larger and more full than I had thought I would be but I think we did alright. Unfortunately, between being nervous, watching our time, and moderating I have no memory of what we said. Whatever it was I’m sure it was witty and insightful.

What else...

Shaun Tan got a much deserved World Fantasy Award for art. Gene Wolfe got best novel, for Solider of Sidon. Yay. And a personal favorite of mine, M. Rickert, got best anthology for Map of Dreams. Again, yay!

I heard about two sf/f illustration exhibits brewing, one in Connecticut and another in Michigan. (I hope I remembered that correctly.) Hopefully the curators for both will keep me posted.

I know I’ll regret missing someone if I do the shout-out thing but I’ll go ahead and do it anyway. I will even highlight names so that anyone that cares can skim and the rest of ya'll can stop reading:

I was thrilled to be seated next to Jane Yolen for the banquet. Hanging out with Steve Erickson and Cam (whose last name escapes me) was a blast, although they kept me up way too late. (I still say CampCon is a good idea, guys. Who wants to attend yet another panel when there are three-legged races to be run.) Thanks to Jeremy Lassen and Liz Gorinsky for late night breakies and getting me back to NYC. Lots of great talk time with Todd Lockwood, John Picacio, Lou Anders and it’s always a good day when I get to see the Vallejo/Bell/Palumbo posse. Thanks to Robert Wiener for putting together the Jones exhibit. I didn’t see enough of Charles Vess, Tom Kidd, Steve Hickman and some other folks but it was great to have some quick talks in and around other events. Vincent Villafranca is an awesome sculptor that I met at last year’s con, this year he had all new stuff, all of which I would have stolen if they didn’t weigh so damn much. As I mentioned in my earlier post, meeting Shaun Tan was a real kick. Mike Dringenberg has an awesome set of drawings for a new Firebird collection that I will look forward to.

I know I’m missing other highlights but at this point my mushy brain is barley functioning so this’ll have to do. I apologize for the fuzzy photos. My camera battery wore out and all I was left with was my crappy cell camera.


Donato Giancola drawing. Dave Palumbo, Julie Bell, and Boris Vallejo drawing.

Todd Lockwood giving a quick digital demo. Omar Rayyan showing off is paintings in the lobby.

Saratoga Springs, City of Horses.

Friday, November 02, 2007

World Fantasy Day 1

World Fantasy is off to a nice start. I had half a day to run around before things got started -- Saratoga Springs is a perfect October town.

I had never met Shaun Tan before but I am not entirely surprised to see that he is a great guy. I bought his latest book, The Arrival, about a month and half ago and I keep meaning to get to writing about it. If ya’ll are smart, you'll stop reading this and go pick up a copy.

The only panel I went to yesterday was a drawing demo with Bob Eggleton, Donato Giancola, and Shaun Tan. It was a big room with a large crowd. The smarter among us sat up front on the floor and had great view of all three of them drawing and answering questions as they went.

At one point Shaun said something very interesting which made me think I should hunt done a pen. Of course, by the time I found one I had completely forgotten what he said. Some thoughts from the second half of the hour:

Donato mentioned that he likes to read the book and then let it sit in the back f his mind for a while. Letting it percolate. When he gets to sketching he’s left with the memory of the book, allowing him to capture mood and themes rather than specific scenes.

Bob mentioned that he liked to work more quickly, reacting emotionally to the book. He also mentioned that Lovecraft was one of the most inspiring writers for him - both or the reading experience and for visual inspiration.

When asked about their dream project, all three said that they simply wanted more time to do what they are already doing better.

Bob and Donato said that their early appreciation for draftsmanship came from comics.

Shaun and Donato talked a bit about working beyond the given assignment -- getting to a place in their career where they were confident enough to add their own voice to the project.

So that was yesterday, with the addition of lots of food and late night talking, of course. The art show looks amazing but I have only skimmed it so far. I'm off now to spend some real time there.