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end of an era The world’s best sci-fi and fan­tasy art com­pen­dium re­turns for its 20th edi­tion – but its cre­ators are step­ping down

ImagineFX - - Reviews -

Spec­trum 20: The Best In Con­tem­po­rary Fan­tas­tic Art; The Sil­ver Age of DC Comics; Guillermo del Toro: Cab­i­net of Cu­riosi­ties.

The 20th edi­tion of Spec­trum’s won­der­ful sci­ence fic­tion and fan­tasy art an­nual be­gins on a slightly sad note: cre­ators Cathy and Arnie Fen­ner are pass­ing the man­tle of edit­ing the com­pen­dium on to long-time col­lab­o­ra­tor and art pub­lish­ing stal­wart John Fleskes.

Al­though it’s their fi­nal pub­li­ca­tion as ed­i­tors, Cathy and Arnie haven’t rested on their lau­rels and Spec­trum 20 is ev­ery bit as good as the 19 that pre­ceded it. Arnie con­trib­utes a fine in­tro­duc­tion in which he dis­cusses the highs and lows of edit­ing the book for the past 20 years, in­clud­ing com­plaints from artists that their work wasn’t in­cluded, and even moans from those who feel more of their art should have been fea­tured.

Imag­ineFX favourite Brom re­ceives this edi­tion’s Grand Mas­ter Award, which feels long-over­due given that his work has fea­tured in ev­ery edi­tion of Spec­trum, and he’s the only artist to have achieved this feat. Dan dos San­tos also con­trib­utes a touch­ing trib­ute to the late Jean ‘Moe­bius’ Gi­raud.

Cathy and Arnie then get into what they do best: round­ing up the best art in the field. It kicks off with a chap­ter on ad­ver­tis­ing, then moves on to books, comics, con­cept art and di­men­sional art. Ed­i­to­rial, in­sti­tu­tional and un­pub­lished works fol­low. Each chap­ter be­gins with a hand­ful of win­ning im­ages, selected by Spec­trum’s panel of in­dus­try ex­perts.

The judg­ing of im­ages takes place in a sin­gle day in Spec­trum’s home of Kansas City, and we imag­ine this event to be in­tense. Nonethe­less, the judges have cho­sen some of the best art here. An­droid Jones’ techno-ser­pent Gane­sha­tron, cre­ated for Spor­ganic, is in­cred­i­ble, com­bin­ing fine lines with an al­most neg­a­tive colour scheme. David Palumbo’s Fed, for 44 Flood, tops out the book awards with an un­set­tling im­age of a naked woman ap­par­ently leav­ing the scene of a crime.

But Spec­trum’s never about the win­ning im­ages. Ev­ery page is a world in which to lose yourself, or a char­ac­ter to get to know, and it serves as both an over­view of in­dus­try trends and a collection of ex­cel­lent im­ages. And it’s as es­sen­tial a pur­chase as ever.

Terese Nielsen up­dated Hanna, Ship’s Nav­i­ga­tor for the Duels of the Planeswalk­ers 2013 ex­pan­sion set.

Donato Giancola’s I Threw Down My En­emy looks sump­tu­ous on the book’s thick, glossy pages.

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