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Arnie Fenner

The Cavalier Fantasies of Frank Frazetta

Fantasy art existed long before his birth in 1928 and has certainly continued to flourish since his passing in 2010, but it’s safe to say that few illustrators have had such an influence and emotional impact on the field as Frank Frazetta.

Today, on what would have been his 88th birthday, I’d like to look back on Frazetta’s background and how such a unique person influenced fantasy art forever.

[Happy birthday, Frank]

Series: On This Day

The Artist: Leo and Diane Dillon

“We’re like the mockingbird that can sing in many voices.”
—Diane Dillon

I have to admit that I’m a skeptic when it comes to the subject of fate. I roll my eyes at the idea of predestination and astral alignment; kismet, divine will, providence, whatever you want to call it, I simply don’t buy it. That is, with one exception:

The Dillons.

When it comes to Leo and Diane my skepticism falls by the wayside and I can’t help but believe their meeting, their marriage, and their career was somehow preordained and inevitable.

[Read More]

Lovecraft, Asimov, GRRM, Heinlein & More: Painting SFF Writers

I was thinking about portraits the other day, partly because of the “Making Faces” show currently going on at the Society of Illustrators, partly because I had just received a copy of Brian Movies that features Iain McCaig’s portrait of Harlan Ellison on the cover, partly because I noted the sale at auction recently of what, to me, was a not-terribly-good painting of Robert Silverberg by the late Ed Emshwiller.

What makes a successful portrait, particularly when the subject is a writer? The answer that immediately comes to mind is: personality. If the artist is able to capture something of who the writer is, not merely what they look like, and elicit responses from viewers and which prompts conversation… then there’s a good chance of creating art, not just a painted version of Glamour Shots.

Now, I’ve never really heard of any controversy surrounding a genre writer’s portrait; certainly nothing like the brew-ha surrounding John Singer Sargent’s painting of Madame Gautreau aka “Madam X.” The flip-side is that I’ve heard very few people say anything positive about some of the clever SFF writer portraits that have been done… so I think I’ll point out a few.

[More than a few]

State of the Art III

I generally don’t talk too much about the books Cathy and I do: I have nothing against self-promotion per se, but it’s not something I’ve ever done especially well or was particularly comfortable doing. Mark Twain once said, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt,” and I’m always convinced I’ll prove him right.

Still, Irene Gallo suggested that I talk a bit about the bio we edited for Underwood Books—Brush with Passion: The Art & Life of Dave Stevens—and since I’m always happy to talk about Dave…

While extremely popular with comics fans and followers of pin-up art, Dave Stevens was hardly a household name and mentioning him in a casual conversation would usually be answered with silence or a blank stare. And yet literally millions have enjoyed Dave’s work in one form or another through the years without ever knowing he was the visionary behind those wonderful entertainments. Perhaps best known as the creator of short-lived Rocketeer comic—which Disney adapted into the film starring Billy Campbell and Jennifer Connelly—Stevens also was a storyboard artist for Raiders of the Lost Ark, concepted the cryogenics chamber Mel Gibson was awakened from in Forever Young, updated the costume of The Flash for a TV series, and was responsible for the look of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video and Victory concert tour.

[Read more…]

State of the Art: Shadowline: The Art of Iain McCaig

Fall/Winter is considered the season for art books—the idea being that they make ideal gifts and lend themselves to perusing with a glass of wine while sitting in front of a cozy fire. Now, of course, glossy collections appear at other times of the year, too, but there is always something of a colorful avalanche that hits the shelves just before the holidays.

One of the titles that stands out from the pack this year is Shadowline: The Art of Iain McCaig. Though his name might not be generally known in F&SF circles his work most certainly is. An influential concept artist for many major motion pictures, television shows, and video games his credits include Terminator 2, Hook, Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, Interview with a Vampire, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire—but he is perhaps best known as a principal designer on the three Star Wars prequels, including the visualization of the characters Queen Amidala and Darth Maul.

[Images and more on the book below the fold…]

State of the Art

Some guys are just funny.

Scott Hilburn’s single-panel comic strip, The Argyle Sweater, is very much in the tradition of The Far Side, but with a uniquely off-kilter view of the world all its own. Featuring anthropomorphic animals, cavemen, and Mr. Spock (as a writer of syndicated horoscopes), The Argyle Sweater has started to appear in an increasing number of newspapers (and through on-line services like GoComics) and generate some enthusiastic buzz.

About himself Hilburn says: “I live in the Dallas area. I have all my teeth. I can stand on one leg and whistle at the same time. I am a good spellar.”

State of the Art

When I was growing up (sometime between the discovery of fire and the launch of Twitter) the Sunday newspaper featured a glorious mixture of color comics. Pages and pages of ’em: adventure, humor, detective, SF, and kiddie fare were all well-represented and some of the most popular strips received a full page to themselves. Dick Tracy chased a rogues gallery of cut-throats (both on Earth and on the moon!), Li’l Abner guzzled Kickapoo Joy Juice and dined on Shmoos, Steve Canyon fought Commies and Cold War spies, Dagwood ran over the mailman on the way out the door, and Prince Valiant roamed the medieval world.

Nowadays the newspaper comics have lost much of their past glory and luster (especially after the 1995 retirement of Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes), the sections have shrunk alarmingly (if not disappeared entirely), and only the barest handful of adventure strips are still being produced. Prince Valiant is one of those rarified few.

[Venture forth for more…]

State of the Art

Jane and Howard Frank are world-renowned for their extensive collection of fantasy and science fiction art, so it was understandable that the collecting community was buzzing when it was announced that the couple were putting some of their drawings and paintings up for sale. On October 15 Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, TX, offered 124 original works for bid and, despite all the worries about the economy, buyers were ready and waiting with their checkbooks in hand.

[Pictures below the fold.]