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Issue #128 - April 2006

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Book on the Wall

By Cheryl Morgan

As you may have guessed, Iím rather fond of books. Iím not by any means a collector, but I try to treat my books well. I donít write in them, I donít dog-ear them, and even when I use Post-Its to mark passages I want to refer back to in a review I make sure I take them out once it is written. Here, however, I have a book that Iím very tempted to cut up. Why, because it is full of gorgeous John Picacio art and Iíd love to be able to have some of it on my walls.

Thankfully I do have a small amount of self-restraint. In any case, some of my favorite Picacio works, in particular the cover for The Empire of Ice Cream, are warp-arounds and cover two pages of the book so theyíd be hard to extract.

Enough frothing, however. Regular readers will know how much I like Picacioís work. I was delighted to see him win a World Fantasy Award last year, and Iím even more delighted to see him on the Hugo ballot. He is very, very good. But what about the book: Cover Story: The Art of John Piacio.

You might wonder about an art book coming from a small press, but the folks at Monkey Brain have done a fabulous job here. This is no cheap trade paperback, it is a big, solid, beautifully produced hardcover. It is the sort of book you should be proud to have on your coffee table, and it very much deserved the exquisite care that Picacio took in packaging it up to send it to me.

The text content of art books is obviously of less interest than the pictures, but I did learn a fair amount about Picacio. I had no idea, for example, that he got his first big break by being asked to provide a cover and illustrations for the 30th anniversary edition of Michael Moorcockís Behold the Man. He also provided the cover for the 35th anniversary edition of Harlan Ellisonís Dangerous Visions, a job he got simply by handing Ellison a sample of his work at a convention. Harlan isnít easily impressed, but on the basis of some chutzpah and one poster he decided that Picacio was someone he wanted to work with.

Really, of course, you donít want a John Picacio art book; you want John Picacio prints, or better still originals. But we canít all afford that, and we certainly canít afford quite so many wonderful pictures as this book contains. Just buy it, OK?

Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio - John Picacio - Monkey Brain - hardcover

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Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio - John Picacio - Monkey Brain

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Emerald City - copyright Cheryl Morgan - cheryl@emcit.com
Masthead Art copyright Steven Stahlberg (left) and Gerhard Hoeberth (right)
Additional artwork by Frank Wu & Sue Mason
Designed by Tony Geer
Copyright of individual articles remains with their authors
Editorial assistants: Anne K.G. Murphy & Kevin Standlee