ELRIC Ink!

Wow! Fan-designed Elric of Melniboné Tattoo Sleeve!

Wow! Fan-designed Elric of Melniboné Tattoo Sleeve!

I love when fans create cosplay based on my artwork — and even better? When they’re tattooing themselves with my art! 🙂

Of course, what’s on this guy’s arm is not exactly my art. It’s an adaptation of it, interpreted by a tattoo artist. You can also see a tribute to Michael Whelan‘s legendary Stormbringer cover art, in this passionate sleeve design.

Hats off to the tattoo owner, who very kindly requested to remain anonymous, but had no problem sharing these photos. And BIG shoutout to the tattoo artist who did the design work — way to go!!!

I’m honored — it’s a real labor of love.

So much good genre TV happening right now. Couple that with the wave of social change that’s happening, and it just feels like the time is right for Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné to become a pop culture phenomenon. He’ll always be an icon of counterculture for me — and to truly be Elric, he always has to be — but I think the mainstream may finally be ready for him and his sword’s soul-sucking glory. Who’s with me on this?

Here are the artworks that inspired these tattoos:

Cover art by Michael Whelan for Michael Moorcock's STORMBRINGER.

Cover art by Michael Whelan for Michael Moorcock’s STORMBRINGER.

Cover art by John Picacio for Michael Moorcock's ELRIC: SWORDS AND ROSES.

Cover art by John Picacio for Michael Moorcock’s ELRIC: SWORDS AND ROSES.

Cover art by John Picacio for Michael Moorcock's ELRIC: THE SLEEPING SORCERESS.

Cover art by John Picacio for Michael Moorcock’s ELRIC: THE SLEEPING SORCERESS.

Elric art by John Picacio, created for MicroVisions. Original art owned by The Sean Lackey Collection.

Elric art by John Picacio, created for MicroVisions 2012. 5″ x 7″ on illustration board. Original owned by The Sean Lackey Collection.

Happy 75th, Michael Moorcock

“Moorcock is dead.”

A publishing executive said that a few years ago, dismissing Michael Moorcock as an author who could connect with today’s audiences. It was an off-hand apocalyptic remark, the kind of overreach that people make when they’re worried about their jobs.

The next night, Mike had heard about it, and he started laughing. “They’ve said that at least four or five times over the course of my career,” he replied. “They’ve left me for dead and I’ve always outlasted them. That’s what you do, you know. And in the end, I’m still here — and they’re out of work. It’s the way of things.”

He said it gracefully, like someone who had been there, done that, several times over. No bragging. No malice. No sweat. Just smooth. When times are tough, I replay that moment in my head. It was a gentle career lesson delivered in a few killer sentences, wrapped in a smile.

Mike was the first author that I ever cover-illustrated, and I’ve been fortunate to illustrate several of his works, including major editions of the Elric of Melnibone saga for Random House. He’s the one that taught me how to be a pro, usually without even trying, sometimes without saying a word. He owns the career that we all hope to have, the one that has multiple lives and new possibilities for the world, the one that shapes change instead of gravytraining it, the one that celebrates all we can be.

Locus Magazine‘s December issue celebrates Mike’s 75th birthday and with it, his prodigious career as one of The London Times’ “50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945.” He’s widely regarded as one of the most impactful creators in the history of science fiction and fantasy, and quite frankly, that’s an understatement. If you haven’t bought that issue yet — grab it. I think you’ll find it well worth your time — and if you’ve never read a Moorcock book, it’s a welcome compass for navigating his literary landscape in search of the right work for you.

He’s a must-read for anyone who loves fantasy literature. In an age driven by social media and the perception of followers — Moorcock’s all-time ‘follower’ list includes legendary careers that were directly spawned by his authored works and editorial tastes: Brian Aldiss, J.G. Ballard, Samuel R. Delany, Thomas M. Disch, Harlan Ellison, Norman Spinrad, Michael Butterworth, John Sladek, and so many more. If you’re a fan of the works of Alan Moore, Jeff Vandermeer, China Mieville, Grant Morrison, Graham Joyce, Chris Roberson, Tad Williams, Paul Cornell or Neil Gaiman (see Neil’s terrific story, “One Life Furnished in Early Moorcock”), he’s a fundamental wellspring of inspiration for all of them, and legions of creators from around the world.

His imagination and influence weave through the history of gaming, fantasy art, rock music, comic books, and filmmaking over the last 50 years to the present — thanks to concepts, characters, narrative devices, and archetypes he conceived which others expand upon, or imitate, often without knowing he was there first.

I can’t wait until his new book releases in January from Tor. It’s a fantasy novel called The Whispering Swarm, and it’s part personal memory, part history of London. I’ll buy it the first day it releases, and start reading that night. Whatever I’m illustrating that day, I suspect reading The Whispering Swarm will challenge me to be better at what I’m doing, and inspire the hell out of me, as all great works and great people do.

Cheers, Mike. Happy 75th. I hope it’s a terrific birthday week for you, and that you and Linda celebrate and enjoy all of the best.

AetherFest 2014

Good news for all Steampunk fans in the southern USA — AetherFest is coming to San Antonio! The historic (and reportedly haunted?) Menger Hotel is the place and it all happens on November 21-23, 2014. AetherFest is billed as “Texas’ premier Retro-Futurist convention, put together by fans for fans.”

I’ll be Special Guest there, and none other than Michael Moorcock will be the Author Guest of Honor, along with Steve Jackson as the Gaming Guest of Honor, and more!

They’ve just released their programming schedule — and it’s loaded with retro goodness.

I’ll be doing several panels and programming events, highlighted by Loteria! on Saturday from 2p-3p where I’ll be conducting an hour’s worth of this classic Mexican game of chance (think Mexican Bingo) for fabulous prizes. Come on out, have fun learning a new game, and score cool sf/f loot!

MY AETHERFEST SCHEDULE:

FRIDAY

3pm: The Worlds of Michael Moorcock

SATURDAY

10pm: AetherFest Opening Ceremony
1pm: The Art of John Picacio
2pm: LOTERIA!
4pm: The Picacio-Moorcock Hour
5pm: Guest of Honor Meet and Greet
6pm: VIP Dinner

Additionally — AetherFest will be the last convention of 2014 where fans will be able to purchase my Loteria posters, including the new one, ‘La Calavera’.

Register now and be there for an amazing weekend, SA!

The Facts of Life

I met Graham Joyce in 2000 at the World Fantasy Convention. He was one of my favorite writers. Still is.

I first heard his name four years earlier. It was my first visit to Michael and Linda Moorcock’s house. I was there to meet Mike because I was doing my first book cover gig — for the 30th Anniversary edition of his novel BEHOLD THE MAN. I was sitting in his studio sanctorum with Ben Ostrander and Rick Klaw, and Mike had just finished writing a review for The Guardian. The subject was a novel called REQUIEM by Graham Joyce. Mike had high praise for it, and I remember writing the name down in my sketchbook.

I bought REQUIEM shortly thereafter, and Mike was right. Graham was good. I started collecting Graham’s books. I was a newbie cover artist, in the embryonic stages of building a career. When WFC came to Corpus Christi in 2000, I barely had enough money to attend, but I did, and Graham was one of the first people I wanted to meet.

For those that didn’t see my Facebook post today, here’s a brief recap of what happened — but I also want to share something extraordinary that I haven’t yet shared elsewhere…

Virtually no one knew who I was at that convention. I had never met Graham, and I went to see him talk. I waited until everyone exited, and showed him my portfolio. He took the time to visit with a total stranger like me, and treated me like the center of the world. A few minutes later, a bald man with dark-rimmed glasses ran up to me in a hallway, and said, “Graham Joyce just told me I needed to meet you!” And that was Lou Anders, who has been my best friend since that fateful moment. It was Graham who brought us together.

But that’s not where the extraordinary ends…..

I saw Graham at the end of the con. We were parting ways. I told him about that first time that I heard about him, when Mike was reviewing his book, and when I was working on BEHOLD THE MAN. He said, “BEHOLD THE MAN?? When that one first came out, back in the day……that was the one that made me want to be a writer.”

Graham said, “Did you really mean that you could show me around after the con?” I said, “Sure, man. Where do you want to go?” I figured Graham wanted to find some dinner. He said, “How far away is this place where you live?”

“About three hours,” I said.

“Is Halloween good around San Antonio?”

I said, “It’s alright, but in Austin, it’s bonkers. Sixth Street. You’d love it.”

Thirty minutes later, one of my favorite writers in the world was riding shotgun in my Saturn coupe as I sped us north to my home in San Antonio. Graham stayed at my house for two terrific Fall days, and yeah, we spent a rollicking Halloween night on Sixth Street together. Better than that though — I took him to meet Michael Moorcock that same evening, and Graham was so happy. Mike meant the world to him, and it was one of my favorite Halloweens ever. Linda was there. So were Rick Klaw and Brandy. It was the best of times.

Years went by, and Graham was always the cool rogue and the great statesman, and he did it effortlessly. He was one of those pillars that defined a generation of the fantasy field for me and my friends. He was always there at WFC, with a word of advice about how to handle a tough situation, or a word of encouragement — with a lot of laughs. I can’t think of the World Fantasy Convention without thinking of him.

He passed away today after bravely battling lymphoma cancer. He was a friend, and one of my favorite people.
I will never forget him..