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First, a confession: Prior to last year's Dragon*Con, I had absolutely no idea who John Picacio was.
Rewinding back to that particular convention, I remember Dwight strongly urging Swain and myself to check out the Art Gallery, post-haste. After much hemming and hawing (all by me), I followed Dwight over to take a look.
Now, speaking honestly, I've never been a sci-fi/fantasy art fan — by any stretch. But after we stopped by Picacio's booth and I saw his work for the first time, those words no longer rang true.
Dwight and I ogled his original drawings for Michael Moorcock's legendary hero, Elric, and let me say, they were something to behold. Seeing those grayscale images up close was an experience unto itself. And it was made more so by John's eloquence and giving spirit.
We had the good fortune of having him sit down and join us for a quick chat at our booth (as chronicled on Episode 136). Turned out he was an avid listener to SiDEBAR and we all became fast friends.
Picacio's lauded resume of over ten years includes illustration for all the major publishers of science-fiction, fantasy and horror. And at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, he debuted his latest project from Random House: the 2012 George R. R. Martin calendar for A Song of Ice and Fire.
John says the Martin fans at Comic-Con absolutely loved it and this was his best year ever. He describes them as "hardcore and beyond passionate". We believe him!
Our conversation covers the creation of the Ice and Fire calendar, as well as a look back at Picacio's formative years as a young artist. We also get into his thoughts of the ever-changing landscape of contemporary illustration, some process talk, and his amazing artbook, Cover Story.
Cover Story was published by Monkeybrain Books in 2006. And after meeting John at Dragon*Con, I promptly went home and ordered myself a copy. It's a treat for fans of sci-fi/fantasy illustration. Awww hell, fans of illustration period. Trust.
Lastly, from August 17-21, John will be set up at Worldcon in Reno, Nevada. The con also hosts the annual Hugo and Chesley Awards. This year, he's nominated for a Hugo for Best Professional Artist and three (!) Chesleys for his cover and interior illustrations. Good luck to John and the rest of the nominees!
** Stay tuned after the interview for an extra special Easter Egg celebrating Dwight's recent birthday!