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
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 Editorial, institutional and unpublished works follow.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.