Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hello, Fallon

Meet Fallon, our Christmas puppy. And by “our” I mean my mom has to take care of her while I get to walk and walk and walk her on weekends. A nine week old Scottish Deerhound -- currently a lapdog, soon to the size of a small pony.

More pictures, because she's cute as a button, here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Brian Elig and Neil Gaiman’s I, Cthulhu

Just showing off the sketches for Brian Elig’s illustration for Neil Gaiman’s very funny “I, Cthulhu, or, What’s A Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing In A Sunken City Like This”.

There was a third drawing which became a Christmas greeting for Brian.

Famous Arists Courses available as free PDFs

The Famous Artists Courses was a correspondence art school started by Norman Rockwell and Al Dorne. Students would sign up, get a booklet on various aspects of drawing, do assignments, get critiques, and so on. I have heard about these booklets for as long as I have been talking to illustrators — usually they have the starry-eyed stare that great explorers searching for mythical cities have in the old movies. Many people have spent hundreds of dollars hunting them down on eBay.

Daniel Caylor on “On Animation” has collected them all and made PDFs available. Go check them out -- they are designed to be serious practical lessons.

Included are lessons about drawing the human form, landscapes, color, experimental design, figure in motion, studio procedures, the list goes on. All brought to you by the likes of Rockwell, Austin Briggs, Al Parker, Robert Fawcett and, again, the list goes on.

(Thank you, Tristan Elwell, for the heads up.)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nucleus Gallery

Oh, to be in LA....Nucleus Gallery is having an insane line-up of exhibits coming up in the next few months -- shows dedicated to airships, zombies in love, Alice in Wonderland, Avatar, and a bunch of others. All between January and March.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Robert John Wildhack

[Other great old Life Magazine Christmas images on Filboid Studge. Via Cartoon Brew.]

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Avatar (Don’t tell the cool kids, I had a blast watching it.)

For the record: I hate it when people say, “X isn't a great movie but the special effects are awesome!” Movies are about story telling. The visuals are an integral part of that but, if the story isn’t there, than it's just a wasted opportunity. (Ahem...Tim Burton.)

That said, Avatar isn't a great movie but the effects are awesome! I’m embarrassed to admit how much I enjoyed it. You know the plot backwards and forwards before you’ve entered the theater. It’s so predictable, it’s un-spoilable. And, yes, every character is a stereotype. And yet, they are somehow likable and you really do care about “what happens next.” But first and foremost, it is a complete visual immersion into a truly stunning world.

I remember some concept art friends at ComicCon saying that it raises the bar of movie effects. I couldn’t imagine how that could be -- effects are so seamless already, how can this be that much better. Well, it is that much better. Whether it’s futuristic laboratories or all that amazing planet exploration footage, it is both unbelievably real and completely magical.

With all that money behind Avatar, it’s a shame they couldn’t come up with something more original, but knowing that the environments where the star of the show they turned a good portion of scree time into a loosely narrative, and comepletely mesmerizing, nature documentary...And I can watch nature documentraies All. Day. Long.

For a much more reasoned and nuanced review, check out Charlie Jane Anders at IO9.

More highlights from the Cthulhu art jam thread

Riding the line between awww and ewww: here's a wee Cthulhoid from Sherya Shetty.

As always, you can check out a host of tentacled beasts, and add your own, on the “Show us your tentacles” art post.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Art Out Loud 6 DVD now available

Just in time for the holidays: The DVD of Art Out Loud 6 — a one-day simultaneous demo with Greg Manchess, Donato Giancola, James Gurney, Charles Vess, and Sam Weber. Experience the event from set-up to take-down, including interviews with the participating artists.

Email or call the Society of Illustrators at:
212 838 2560

Earlier post on the event here.
Photos here.
And DVD teaser below:

Trailer for Art Out Loud, Vol 3 from Kate Feirtag on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kurt and Zelda and “The Tempest Wakens”

Firstly: Comic by Teetering Bulb! Free! Here!

Now, back-story...

About a month or two ago I was at a gallery opening talking to Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon — Teetering Bulb, together. They were talking about how slammed with work they were. I said that was great but, too bad, since we had this idea of Cthulhu Month coming up and I was wondering if they would be interested in doing a comic for it. Kurt started to say, “No, we really are too......” and then his words trailed off and, I will swear to my grave, the sound of gears turning in his brain became audible.

They worked like hell to get this done and yet it feels as loose and dreamy (and freakin’ scary) as if they had all the time in the world. Their work , which was always good, just keeps getting better and better -- style, color, pacing....just great stuff.

So, if you are in the mood for something quietly horrific, take a look at The Tempest Wakens.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

ArtOrder challenge winners.

I was honored to be a judge for Jon Schindehette’s Hurakan book cover ArtOrder challenge. The winners have been announced, you can check out what the full panel of judges had to say here: Hurakan Challenge.

We had some tough choices to make. I was grateful for Jon’s system of picking 5 (although I cheated and picked 6) winners and commenting on them. Picking “a winner” adds excitement to the event, no doubt, but the real fun is forcing yourself to articulate what is working and what has potential. Congrats to everyone that entered.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Bronx Zoo

Turns out, the best time to go to the zoo is in 37degree temperatures and rain -- nobody will be there with you.


If you’re the type that needs things on-topic: A shout-out to the amazing Jack Unruh drawings in the Congo Gorilla Forest. Seen in the above: third row, middle.

Tara Rueping's Lord of the Rings

I honestly did not mean to spend time looking at Lord of the Rings concept work this evening but such are the hazards of the job -- easy to trip off the path and find something sorta wonderful, like Tara Rueping’s concept work.

Friday, December 11, 2009

More Cthulhu

Okay, I know I said I would do this on Mondays but there are too many great works in the thread, and too few Mondays left in December, so: Another highlight in the “Show Us Your Tentacles” Cthulhu art jam post.

This one from Susan Sanford. Cthulhu and Mr. Hulot!!! It is a wonderful life world we live in. Sanford is offering this image (along with a lot of other cool writer-y themed drawings) as a t-shirt here.

And, be sure to check out, and add to, what I will declare (completely without research or scholarship to back it up) is the coolest collection of pro and fan Cthulhu art online.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

John Jude Palencar’s Horrid Wings

We recently published Elizabeth Bear’s The Horrid Glory of Its Wings on It’s a lonely and moving story. John Jude Palencar was an easy choice for it -- it needed something quiet and soulful, and a little sad but still strong.

Sketches below. The first was the clear choice...but the second one makes me want to see what John could do with a dark superhero project.

Eric Drooker's fantastical New York

A tweet from Richard Solomon pointed me to Eric Drooker's website. Smitten with my city for 20+ years, I can testify to the complete accuracy of these reportage paintings.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A thousand apologies!

Or at least 80-100 apologies.

I was getting ridiculous amounts of spam a while back. It's still in the system, junking everything up. So I turned on moderation for posts over a week old and then I promptly forgot about it. I never went back to check for real comments hidden in the weeds.

I am apologies to the 90ish peolpe that posted and only now made it on the site. There were a lot of great comments and a number first-time commentators.

I have turned moderation back off...hopefully the spamming has subsided. If not, I'll be more careful next time.

Mondays of Madness

I’ve been blown away by the response to the Cthulhu art thread. A big “thank you” to all the participants -- doodler, pro, and Play-Doh-er alike. Honestly, I was worried no one would respond — figured I’d be the girl wearing a party hat in an empty room — but you guys are awesome and it’s a blast watching it grow.

If you missed it, above is just one image from the thread, by Ture Ekroos. I’ll highlight a new one each Monday through December — for the full onslaught, check out our art jam, or better yet, join in!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Brian Elig speaks Girrafe. And other stuff.

We started a new series on, I Speak Fluent Giraffe, featuring the insane grumblings of one Jason Henninger. Throughout December that means grumblings of a Cthulhuian nature, afterwards it will branch out (as if anything could be beyond Cthulhu's reach.) Only one episode old right now, but this series will grow fast as a Dunwich child.

Check out: I Speak Fluent Giraffe.

The Cthlhu poems will be illustrated by Brian Elig. I was very excited to work with Brian. I met him a few years ago when Jon Foster asked me to speak to his RISD class. (There must have been something in the Providence water that year -- Wesley Allsbrook was in that class and she went on to create some great comics for us.)

I loved Brian's work and would visit his website a few times a year since that lecture. Honetsly, I doubted I'd have an assignment with the right mix of creepy sweetness that is in so much of Brian's work. Thankfully, Jason Henninger's whimsical poems about horrible evils were a perfect match.

Two nights ago I was giving a lecture to Soojin Buzelli's SVA class. The Brian example reminded me to tell the students the unfortunate truth about marketing -- you never know what is going to work or when it will work. A postcard sent today might get you work right off, or, it may stay tacked to an AD's wall for years before they call. I'm constantly going through years old Spectrums. A promising portfolio review my stick in my mind for ages before I have the right assignment. There's no way around it: Emerging artists need to take advantage very means of showing their work, update those efforts, and try to stay confident that steady progress in their work (artistically and marketingly) will pay off in the end. It's hard work to keep that faith up. Hats off to you guys. I couldn't do it.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I drew in public! Or, Show us your tentacles: A Cthulhu art meme.

It doesn’t take looking at too many portfolios before you realize artists love tackling Cthulhu’s tentacled madness. Being a newbie to the Old Ones, I wanted to ask a bunch of artists friends: Just what is it about Cthulhu and Co. that makes drawing, painting, and sculpting from Lovecraft so (If fun is the right world?)

Head over to and see what Michael Whelan, John Jude Palencar, Mike Mignola, Bob Eggleton, and others have to say on the topic. And then add your own! Post any Lovecraftian or tentaclian inspired art (doodles by non artists count, maybe even more so) in the comment section—horrify your friends, worry your love ones...

Added bonus! I expose myself for the art-fraud that I am. Go and see my drawing of the dreaded Jack’thulhu!!!

It's Stubby! (Post fin-enhancing surgery.)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Kurt and Zelda on The Comic Book Club

Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon (together Teetering Bulb) where guests at The Comic Book Club last night. For those not in the know, like I was, The Comic Book Club is three very funny guys geeking out the week's comics and interviewing comic book creators. Added bonus: the audience is almost as funny as the guys.

Speaking of Kurt and Zelda - just launched Cthulhu Month. K&Z have agreed to make a Lovecraftian comic for us, airing mid month. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Donato's ebook cover for The Dragon Reborn

We have unveiled the cover to the third volume of the Wheel of Time ebooks, The Dragon Reborn. Head on over to and you can hear Donato talk about his work and see his initial drawings.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Omar Rayyan

Public service announcement of the day, check out Studio Rayyan's blog. Holy cow, do I love these.

And I'm looking forward to seeing the Alice in Wonderland piece in December as it is part of an Alice exhibit at the Brandywine Museum.

(The Brandywine as in, “bury me under the Andrew Wyeth’s, please.”)

Monday, November 23, 2009

The covers that got away

I got batch of cover designs in today and immediately regretted that the one I liked the best, visually speaking, would never fly for the cover. In this case, with good reason — it looks great but isn’t quite suited for the audience. Luckily, there are others in the batch that also also very good and more appropriate for the book.

Also today, I got sketches in for another book. Here we are clearly we are making the less interesting choice because it more closely resembles familiar territory. The artist is no dummy and will likely reuse the pose on someone else’s very successful book cover. (And I will be jealous!)

This happens a lot in the job. Many times I agree with the final outcome, in some cases I don’t. Below are two older examples of covers that “got away.”

The Mystery of Grace
Illustrator John Jude Palencar and designer Peter Lutjen have been the dynamic duo beyond many many Charles de Lint covers. It’s amazing how well their sensibilities work together, even more so when you consider that Charles, Peter, and John have never met.

When Mystery of Grace came up, when we knew a general outline of the story. John Jude sent in a series of sketches and I was blinded by how much I loved this puppeteer drawing. It makes for a great painting, and even a great cover, but when the author and editor brought up the fact that it was much too dark for the book, it was hard too fight it. It certainly is macabre. This is not the artist’s fault. If I had been thinking more clearly, I would have asked for other sketches. In this case we got as far as printing Advance Reading Copies with the puppet cover before we were able to about-face and start over. (I’m told you can find those advance reading copies on eBay every now and then.)

Since we do have such a long and wonderful history of Palencar covers on de Lint books, there was never a question of what to do — I went back to John, described the book more fully, and gave him a clearer understanding of how we wanted to position it. It was a whole second commission for him — a pricey mistake on my part but, thankfully, not one that I make too often. In the end, the second cover is just as lovely in a different way.

Blood Groove
In this case, it was tough to get the marketing tone right. The initial copy and the title made it sound a bit campy and hipstery. When talking to the editor, the book sounded much more gritty than that, and it sounded much more grisly than the current slew of hot Twilight-y vampires. Designer Jamie Stafford-Hill went to town on the idea of a truly horrific, old school vampire. What you can’t see here is, he even requested a slightly textured varnish to make the cover just a tiny bit pebbly your hand. We did an advance run on the jackets and they looked great. Really great. In the end, though, Sales and Marketing felt that we should try to hit larger audience an go with a “movie-poster” style cover.

Selling more books is good for everybody — everyone from the author, to the bookstore clerks, to the truck drivers moving inventory around — so it’s difficult to say that going more commercial is a bad thing...But truth be told, this was example where I wish we could have stuck with something that was a bit more unique and engaging. While I certainly like the re-do, quite a bit actually, I’ll always wonder which cover really would have performed better.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kris Kuksi exhibit

Kris Kuksi
Beast Anthology

548 West 28th Street, 3rd Floor, NYC
Nov 21 -- Dec 19, 2009

Last night I attended Kris Kuksi's Beast Anthology opening at the Joshua Liner gallery. I had seen pictures of his work over the past year and was anxious to view them in person.

Kuksi takes bits and pieces of action figures, toy soldiers, tank models, and a seemingly endless selection of other figurative found objects and creates scenes that, seen as a whole, are reminiscent Eastern temple wall sculptures. Chaotic on the micro level but ultimately forming organized symmetrical shapes. The soldiers' poses and tanks create a kind of steampunk inspired monstrous momentum -- evoking elements of imperialism and industry. The religious and/or post apocalyptic effect is often enhanced by an "underworld" side to the work.

I'll admit, it's not work that effects me emotionally but if you're looking for a true "Holy shit, that's awesome!" experience, it's well worth the effort to go see them. It is easy to get lost in each one for quite a while. The longer you stare and the closer stand next to them, the more you can reduce yourself to their scale and become overwhelmed by their momentum.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Art Out Loud DVD trailer

Trailer for Art Out Loud, Vol 3 from Kate Feirtag on Vimeo.

A little set-up tease for an upcoming DVD of the September 12th's Art Out Loud at the Society of Illustrators with:
James Gurney
Sam Weber
Charles Vess
Donato Giancola
Greg Manchess

Earlier report of the event here. I'll give a heads-up when the DVD is available, of course.

Hmmm..makes me want to start another Art Out Loud.....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Greg Manchess and I talk about the evolution of Stubby, the rocket.

Greg and I talk through the process of creating the logo.

Two awesome cover posts.

IO9 compares various jackets for classic SF novels.

And SF Signal aks a number of publishing folk what they consider the most memorable sf/f cover.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cassandra Diaz webcomic: My Grandmother's House

A while ago I mentioned that Sam Weber turned me on to Cassandra Diaz's work. I now have the pleasure of publishing her comic My Grandmother's House -- an ethereal, dreamy moment -- on Check it out. I'm still blown away that she's just out of school.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kekai Kotaki and The Great Hunt

The second Wheel of Time ebook cover is now released, this one by the amazing Kekai Kotaki. You can read a behind-the-scenes post and see lots of progressions on The Great Hunt ebook cover by Kekai Kotaki.

RELATED: David Grove's ebook cover for The Eye of the Wolrd

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Art that's a lot like hiking

Storm King Art Center is always magical.

Went for the Maya Lin, and to revisit the Andy Goldworthy, and was reminded how much I love Richard Serra.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Stemapunk Month Wallpapers: Manchess, Foster, Tenery, Frietas

We are preparing to send off Steampunk Month on Throughout the month we gave out desktop wallpapers. If you want any, or just want to see some brushstrokes (an in one case sculpture) close up, check out:

HMS Stubbington, the logo
Thom Tenery
Eric Frietas
Jon Foster
Greg Manchess

Quick update: The posters mentioned below are all called-for. But a sincere thanks to everyone for reading.

Steampunk Month Letterpress Poster

We decided that we absolutely had to have letterpress posters for's Steampunk Month, so, four of us from Team TorDot drove up to Ross MacDoanld's Connecticut studio and proceeded to have a blast! We went up with a plan and then threw it away, having much more fun re-designing, rewriting, and adjusting on the fly.

For the full story, go to: Making the Steampunk press poster.

More photos here.

And if anyone wants one, the first five people that email me their name and address get a poster. UPDATE: Sorry folks - all gone.

And here we are in action:

Donato demo download from Massive Black

Just out from Massive Black's downloadable demo series: Donato Giancola's "The Mechanic." Long term readers know I've seen Donato demo a bunch of times, he's a born teacher. $60 dollars for 5 hours. Download version available now, there will be a DVD version out in November.

Order it here.
Trailer below.
Apropo t0 nothing, I love this painting -- one of my recent faves from Donato.

[Thanks to Dan Dos Santos for the heads up.]

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just in: Idiot's Books still amazing!

The good folks at Idiot's Books continue with what is one of the most interesting works of illustration I've seen come through Tor -- the 81 part serialization of Cory Doctorow's Makers. I'll be sad when it finishes up. Here we are at part 45, and suddenly I really want to wallpaper a part of my room with this.

For more background, see this post.