by Arnie Fenner
Way back in 2011 on MC I wrote, "I love art books. I always have; I always will. And it doesn't matter how many might already be sitting on our increasingly-bowed shelves, there's always room for more. As hot as e-books and e-readers are, they still haven't been able to compete with the visual and tactile satisfaction a traditional art book offers. They undoubtedly will...eventually. But until that day comes...I want more art books."
Five years later I'm still waiting for 4 of the 5 wish-list collections suggested in that post, but the Art of Bob Peak book did appear in 2013. In the meantime e-books/e-readers sales have plateaued and in some cases significantly declined—and art books have remained only a tiny and largely unprofitable segment of the digital market (though comics seem to have maintained a decent presence). That will probably change as technology marches on, but for the time being print still rules (yay!) for various reasons. And, let's be honest, holding a book, like looking at art in person, is an entirely different—and generally more satisfactory and impactful—sensory experience than in looking at a PDF on a monitor.
There are some great books being produced these days, either via Kickstarter or from publishers (and, psst, if you haven't ordered Bill Carman's or Jeffrey Alan Love's [forthcoming] volumes yet, you don't know what you're missing). But as an avowed bookaholic I always want more so, as I wrote several years back, I would dearly love to see publishers produce fat, gorgeous collections devoted to...
Certainly Bill is well known for his groundbreaking, brilliant art for Elektra: Assassin, Stray Toasters, Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child, Moby Dick, and many, many more, but there hasn't been a collection of his stacks of paintings, advertising, film work, and illustrations. Why, dammit, why? Search me, but a big book is a no-brainer, as far as I'm concerned.
Forest's sculptures and art dolls are at once breathtaking and unforgettable. For me, she kinda came out of left field when she suddenly started submitting to Spectrum and I was immediately impressed and intrigued and hooked. How does she do what she does? I haven't a clue, but I'd like to find out. What's that? She sculpts dinosaurs and paints, too? Wow! A nice retrospective collection that I could linger over at my leisure would definitely help increase my already great admiration even more. [Photo of Forest by Greg Preston.]
Anytime anyone turns up their nose at digital art ("the computer does all the work, you know"), I steer them to Andrew "Android" Jones' art—and their condescending frowns turn upside down. As they should. Have no doubt, Andrew draws superbly with a good ol' fashioned pencil on paper, but it's when he starts to play his giant Wacom like Eric Clapton plays guitar that his music comes to life. Part painter, part performance artist, Android's wonderful projections (on the Empire State Building or the Sydney Opera House or at Burning Man) transcend traditional mediums and become something else entirely. As Michael Whelan said while watching his and Phadroid's interactive performance at the first Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, "I'm watching the future of art unfold before my eyes." A book to document Android's journey—to this point, anyway—is a must. [Photo of Android by Greg Preston.]
Who can resist that smile? Not Cathy and I, obviously, since we can't seem to resist buying something from Omar (and from his wife Sheila, too) whenever we see him. Adept with oil and watercolor (an especially unforgiving medium), Omar's art has the ability to pull at your heartstrings, excite your sense of adventure, or make you smile, if not laugh out loud. His "Little Darlings" series of Victorian-era children holding their beribboned pet monstrosities are particularly hilarious. [Photo of Omar by Greg Preston.]
Bernie Fuchs [1932-2009]
Really? Really? I have to explain why I want a collection of Bernie Fuchs' art? Yesh. There is a Japanese collection (shown above) that is virtually impossible to find (and it's $300 when you do), but don't you think one of America's greats deserves an American book? I know I do. Somebody, please: just do it. Like, yesterday, already.
I've written a few essays for various places in the past about Terese and I can't help but repeat something I've said previously: I think Terese's paintings feature some of the most beautiful fantasy/SF characters in contemporary fantastic art. Even her villains and creatures are stunning! Her lush color palettes and strong compositions pack a solid one-two punch. Vampirella, Xena, Warrior Princess, Star Wars, and, naturally, Magic: The Gathering: Terese illustrates them all with confidence and class. I don't think one book would do: two would be better.
More? Of course I want more. But before I reel off another list, are there art books that haven't been produced that you'd like to own? Feel free to share.