Monday, June 13, 2016

Hey Publishers Part 2!

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...

Bill Sienkiewicz

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.


  1. Paul Lehr, please, if there isn't already - and I was going to say Jack Gaughan, but apparently there's been a volume published in 2010(?). I'll have to track down a copy. I hope it has all those wonderful small pen-and-ink pieces from the various DAW paperback title pages.

    On a side note, my copy of Riotminds' Kickstarter project "The Fabulous Art of Trudvang" arrived this week - it's just a wonderful volume, and I'm currently wallowing in a treasure trove of mind-blowing Paul Bonner, Alvaro Tapia and Justin Sweet artwork (amongst others). Hurrah for art books! More! More!

  2. Agreed: a Lehr book would be wonderful! And, yes, Nonstop Press published "Outermost: The Art & Life of Jack Gaughan" by Luis Ortiz back in 2010. I think it's still available from the publisher:

  3. You have another vote for Bill Sienkiewicz Arnie, the work Bill was doing in the 80's on Elektra Assassin was i thought a step above others. This man needs an Oeuvre!

  4. A career retrospective on William Stout- including his movie production art, posters, album covers, comics- the works.
    I'll also third that Sienkiewicz book!

    1. Bill has talked about doing a matched series of books, each devoted to an aspect of his career (comics, films, paleoart, albums, etc.), but a nice fat all-in-one would be nice, too.

  5. Bill Sienkiewicz, Forest Rogers, Android Jones, Omar Rayyan, Bernie Fuchs share more and more. Thanks a lot.

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  6. Can't argue with any of these. I keep looking at that Brom book on my shelf and thinking I'd love to see Donato and Manchess equivalents sitting right next to it.

  7. Thank you. Those are some great wish list names. I love art books. They are my treasures.

  8. Arnie:
    The Bernie Fuchs book gets a vote from me. His work doesn't get enough exposure. There is an issue of Illustration magazine which does a beautiful job of covering his career, if you haven't already seen it.
    I would love to get that Japanese book you mentioned above. It is surprising to me that an American publisher hasn't produced a book on Fuchs.

    Bill Sienkiewicz, Forest Rogers and Android Jones are also great.

    There are many artists who's books have gone out of circulation or never got their due for various reasons. I kind of feel that in this digital age, it is more important than ever to keep Print going.
    Great artists can be forgotten if they are not documented and honored properly.

    1. Absolutely. It is surprisingly easy for digital files to disappear never to be found again; they supposedly go somewhere and can be accessed forever, but I think that's just a theory. With each new device, each new OS, it's easy to lose files; with a book? It's always right there. :-)

      And, yes, it's surprising that some major, influential artists with significant bodies of work are either overlooked or their books have gone out of circulation. In most cases it's the indifference of the marketplace, I guess.

  9. Arnie, great post. I 2nd a book by Paul Lehr, Manchess and Bill Sienkiewicz. But yes there are a few that are just head scratchers like why is there not a book on this majorly influential artist out there??? Brand Holland for one. Yes there is one of his ink drawings, which I have, and which is amazing, but it is from 1977. His biggest most influential body of work and his paintings are not collected? They are so powerful why has this not happened yet? Gary Kelley is another one. Luckily there are some picture books that are like mini portfolios but I would love a big fat art book on his work, and his sketchbooks. He is just an art machine with so many ways of working, pastel, oil paint, monotypes, and all work so well.
    And that brings us to Fuchs and other giant illustrators of the past. Thankfully there have been some online groups like Today's Inspiration (thanks to Leif) that have at least tried to archive and celebrate these great legends. The digital archive and list of amazing talents goes on and on, but these images were mostly done for magazines and after a month they were gone and mostly unseen until now. I know when I really fell in love with FUchs work it wasn't the work I saw in the 90's with his oil wipe outs, it was the 60's work. And at that time in 2008 none of those images were out there. Absolutely nothing, and so I went to hunt them down and share them cause they should be seen and shouldn't be forgotten. (all my tear collected tear sheets are in my flickr set- link at the bottom) Which brings me to the book. That Japanese one is like a big Gallery Catalogue. Has a few decent images and it, is better than nothing but if you don't like a lot of golf and his oil paintings then this isn't the book for you. From what I have heard the Apatoff book is finished and ready to print and at the publisher, but for some reason is stalled. A lot of us are waiting and frustrated...Hopefully it will be out this year. In the meantime thankfully Manuel Auad has been putting out books of these other legends, Parker, Fawcett, Dorne and the next one is Austin Briggs. Can't wait. Next to FUchs, Briggs is one artist I really want a book of and it is happening. Enjoy the art:

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  11. [Had to fix a clunky bit of writing.] Thanks, Matt! Yeah, you'd think a big Brad Holland collection would be a natural. Shoot, I'd buy a book of just his "Ribald Classics' pieces he did for Playboy if someone would publish it. I realize that not everything I (or we) want necessarily has or might have much hope for commercial success (there are books Cathy and I put together and dearly love that lost money), but that doesn't make me want them any less. :-) I'll have another list in the not-to-distant future. Thanks for the link!

  12. Arnie...gotta agree with you on Forest Rogers. Once I saw her work in Spectrum, I felt kind of blindsided...her work is something I didn't know I needed to see, but I am better for it.

    Also, Justin Sweet and Vance Kovacs should have a volume or two out, kind of like how Rick Berry and Phil Hale did "Double Memory."