Tor.com content by

Gregory Manchess

Fiction and Excerpts [1]
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Fiction and Excerpts [1]

The Dust and Grit of Our Interstellar Future: The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon

Titan Books has released another fabulous art book of a contemporary science fiction artist. The Art of John Harris, Beyond The Horizon is as beautiful as the images contained in it.

Titan gives Harris’ work a high-class setting, the staging it needs to allow the viewer to wander through the reproductions without a sea of grey-typed mind-splitting critique that tells us what to we’re supposed to glean from or accept about it. Explanations are minimized and give just enough information to understand what Harris was thinking. In short, it focuses on the gorgeous work itself.

[Take a look at that gorgeous work close up]

Creating the Artwork for “What Mario Scietto Says”

This illustration is for the third story in a series of short stories that started with “Dress Your Marines in White,” by Emmy Laybourne. Irene Gallo art directed once again for Tor.com.

This story, “What Mario Scietto Says,” is mostly confined to a bomb shelter, so I didn’t have too much variation for images. There’s a point in the story where the main character, Mario, piles all of his survival gear together on a bed to prepare for leaving the shelter.

[Read More]

Painting Stubby the Rocket in Space

For their 4th birthday this year, Tor.com commissioned a new illustration based on their logo (affectionately called Stubby the Rocket). I designed the rocket with Irene Gallo four years ago. Every year in honor of Tor.com’s birthday, which just happens to be NASA’s moon-landing day, July 20th, a new story about Stubby’s adventures will be released. The first one was recently published, “A Tall Tail,” by Charles Stross.

[And it required Stubby to actually fly in space]

Behind the Scenes: Creating the Art for a New Swanwick Story Series

Sometimes, paintings just need more work than you set out to give them. They reflect your state of mind so well, that at times we manage to ignore what’s in front of us, when we should follow what’s going down.

This is the sequence of painting two images of a six story run for Tor.com. The stories were written by Michael Swanwick and art directed by Irene Gallo. (The first one, “The Mongolian Wizard,” was just published.) They have a touch of steampunkiness to them, along with vaguely recognizable historic elements. I read them both about three times each, then started as usual, with a slew of thumbnails.

[Read how Manchess went about creating the imagery]

At the Edge: An SFF Exhibition

At the Edge opened this past Saturday in Allentown, PA. I was smacked right in the eyes when I turned to look at the first piece on the first gallery wall: a beautiful pen and ink by Franklin Booth of a ship of the line, followed by an original Arthur Rackham. A first class collection of first class fantastic art, all luscious originals that spanned the past two hundred and twelve years.

[Read more]

Painting John Carter

The 100th anniversary of A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs is here, and to celebrate, John Joseph Adams has edited an anthology of all new adventures of John Carter, set on that seminal planet. Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom will be released early February, full of great writers and specially commissioned contemporary illustrations. This is my contribution to the story entitled, “The Metal Men of Mars,” by Joe R. Lansdale. Other artists include Charles Vess, Molly Crabapple, John Picacio, Mike Kaluta and others.

[Read more and watch a demo video]

The Year’s Most Fantastic SFF Art: Spectrum 18

 

The world appears to be full of skilled artists working with fantastic images. As proof, I can point to the latest, slightly thicker edition of Spectrum 18.

I was one of seven judges this year, which I consider an honored privilege. Getting a glimpse of the state of the genre’s art at large is daunting: five thousand entries displayed in a room full of tables.

The process runs like this. Each judge carries a cup full of beans, ordinary ol’ navy beans. As the juror passes down the aisles of tables, scrutinizing each and every entry, she places a bean into the cup next to the entry she likes. One bean is a yes vote. The juror can’t see who’s voted and who hasn’t because the cup is inverted, with a small hole in top to pass the bean vote through.

[Read more]

Series: Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s Picks

Jeffrey Catherine Jones 1944-2011

One of America’s greatest artists died this morning. Jeff Jones was among science fiction and fantasy’s premiere visual story-tellers. He handled oil paint and brush as if he was merely revealing the magic and beauty held within the canvas, like wiping away the white to show the color beneath.

Nothing ever felt labored in his work. His prolific output made it seem as if he had to get the stacks of ideas out of himself, through oil, watercolor, or pen and ink. As Jeff’s abilities grew, so did his sophistication, and yet I always felt the exploration in his concepts to capture a child-like playfulness, no matter how serious the subject. This leant a certain agelessness to everything. From his early Frazetta influence, he pushed the work more toward his own star and progressed to one of the genre’s most unique voices.

[Read more. Some NSFW art below the cut]

John Schoenherr’s The Tuvela

I could never resist the beauty and whimsy of this Analog cover by the inimitable John Schoenherr, illustrating a two-part story originally titled, The Demon Breed, by James H. Schmitz.

Two giant otters along with their human friend, Nile, pause high in the tangled limbs of a water world. The strength of the sweeping curve of the main otter draws the eye upward to the adorable animal’s face, placed perfectly next to the magazine’s masthead. Nile is mysterious and sits tantalisingly just off-center for a sense of scale.

[Read more…]

The Art of Hammer

Titan Publications just released The Art of Hammer, by Marcus Hearn. The amazing thing about the book is that it made me realize how powerfully artwork can out-creep the movies they advertise. The singular vision of so many examples of art has tremendous impact.

Hammer films were the reason my closet was haunted as a kid. Just looking at the artwork on the outside of the theater, presenting attractions for the next shocker, was enough to send me home with nightmares. Perhaps my imagination was acute, but I think the artists that made these visions so frightening were having the time of their lives. They had no idea they were stirring deep primordial fears within children everywhere. Or, well, maybe they did.

[Warning: deep primordial fears ahead]

Constructing the Art for The Satan Factory

I was an early fan of Hellboy. Forget the comical name or the character himself. What grabbed me from the moment I spotted it was it’s graphic appeal. Mike Mignola designs his panels, pages, story, and dialog. They are impeccable and luscious. I want to linger on every page because my brain is always happy to fill in the blanks he leaves practically everywhere. The mark of a superior designer and draughtsman.

It’s the risks he takes with leaving things out that makes the difference. Huge explosions with barely an indication of detail, and large areas of color that he and Dave Stewart, an excellent colorist, work out together. Creatures and settings drawn from simple outlines or slightly modified cut-outs as figures. That takes commitment to leave out all the dang detail.

[Process sketches after the jump]

Constructing the Art for The Sky People

 

I used to work at a studio of illustrators. One of our catch phrases at the time was, “generally, your first impression for an illustration idea is the right one.” Logic follows that if I just put down one sketch, it would likely be better than any that followed. And of course, this isn’t real.

The impression of the idea may be correct, but the solution is rarely so. It takes exploration, and as soon as I find a great solution, five more pop into my head. Each one leads to another. They start slow, then cascade. Solutions evolve.

[Read more]

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