Friday, December 31, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 331 (12/31) -- Spectrum 17 edited by Cathy & Arnie Fenner

There are people who can write coherently for long stretches about art, making intriguing comparisons and speaking knowledgeably about techniques and influences, but I'm not one of them. When I used to have to talk about art regularly, back in my book-club days, I often resorted to waving my hands about wildly, a small store of stock phrases, and, most dependably, pointing at things in the indispensable Spectrum series of art annuals.

So that leads to two points: first, that I'll try to be brief here, so I don't stray out of my depth entirely. And second, that this series is wonderful if you want to know about the fantastic art field for any reason (professional or personal). The current volume is Spectrum 17, collecting great art created in 2009. (I've burbled about this series here for the past few years: 13, 14, 15, 16 -- so you can take everything I said in those places as read about this book as well, since it follows excellently in their footsteps.)

Once again, the "Unpublished" section is the largest, and the most likely to confuse me, but I've come to believe that the Spectrum process allows submitters to decide on the final category for a work, without changes from the judges, and so I just shrug. (Similarly, I saw illustrations from under both "Editorial" and "Institutional" sections -- even relatively simple definitions can have edge cases.) But, once again, the real point is that there are about 260 pages of great art here: chosen carefully by a panel of excellent artists and designers, organized and labeled by the Fenners, and presented in a fine book on good paper.

(The "Unpublished" section used to occasionally vex me, since it was not unknown at my old job to troll that section for works that might be suitable for upcoming projects -- though it always seemed to turn out than any specific "unpublished" work had found a real home by the time we asked about it.)

If you work in any of the fields strongly connected to fantasy art -- comics, books, games, or related areas -- you really should be paying attention to the Spectrum books. And if you just really like any of those areas, you'll probably find a lot to love here as well.

Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

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