When it rains...it downpours.
Out now is the second in the "Annals of Absurdity" series by Joshua Price, "A Downpour of Apes". As with his first book in this series, I have been lucky enough to provide the cover art, as well as art for the chapter headings.
"Downpour" continues the adventures of Captain Rescue begun in "A Drizzle of Zombies". It's a comedic blend of superhero/action/horror genres that is as entertaining a read as you could ask for. I haven't yet read this particular volume, but if it approaches anywhere near the first book, it will be a feast worth consuming.
If you're a fan of Terry Pratchett style humour, or if you fondly remember the Neil Gaiman edited series "Temps", you would do well to treat yourself to the Annals of Absurdity books. Actually, while you're at it, why don't you also check out Price's shorter works in this series, "A Mind Not Worth Controlling" and "The Dawn of Malevolence/Urinal Cakes All the Way Down"? Heck, you can get the whole lot for under 5 bucks, so what have you got to lose?
01 December 2012
When it rains...it downpours.
27 November 2012
Issue 19 of the Lovecraft Ezine is up, and once again, I have contributed an illustration for your viewing pleasure.
It's a bit of a special occasion this time. Publisher Mike Davis's young son Logan has written a story titled "Amtopians", for which Mike has had several of the contributing artists create illustrations. It's fun little story, and a good start a budding author. With my own daughters beginning to branch off into creative fields, I'm all for supporting your kids' efforts like this if you have the opportunity, so it was a pleasure to create an illustration to support Logan's story.
With this one, a scene in his story reminded me of some of the covers of the schlocky horror paperbacks I used to read in the 80's and 90's, so I tried to create an illustration reminiscent of that period. Check it out here and see how well you think I did.
Lovecraft EZine is, as always, free to read online, or you can grab a copy (with illustrations) for your mobile device for under a buck. Either way, it's always worth a read, and just seems to be getting better with each issue.
Meantime, to whet your whistle, here's my illustration for Derek Ferreira's "A Counting Game" from last month's Roger Zelazny tribute issue.
24 October 2012
Well....."work" in the sense that it took some time and effort to create something that someone else can use. Certainly nothing of any lasting or redeeming value, but fun all the same.
The literary (for want of a better word) and very comedic podcast "Air Out My Shorts" features another of my short stories in their latest, and in my opinion one of their best, episode, # 162 - Cake or Death.
Longtime readers who are keeping count will realize that this is indeed my fifth time going to this well, previous appearances being in episodes 39, 80, 103, and 122. This time around, I take a crack at their patented Plot Plunger and come up with something that I can't describe in 25 words or less, but to which you should give a listen. Show hosts Preston Button and the Word Whore really do a tremendous job of butchering the story in their signature way, and it makes for a very entertaining experience.
Click the link to download the episode directly, or go to their website to check out the other great things they have to offer.
22 October 2012
Fresh up from Jolly Rogue Studios, it's "Sky Pirates of Valendor" Vol. 2, Issue 6. I had the pleasure of doing the cover for this one, my second piece of work for this series (I had a pinup back in Volume 1).
From the book's description:
"Welcome to the World of Valendor, a bold new world where steam-powered ships sail across the sky and where you’ll find that the standard heroes come in any shape or form—even Pirate!
18 October 2012
I've been very busy lately with a series of small, private commissions that I, unfortunately, cannot run here. Meantime, though, I've been able to squeeze in a couple of more public pieces of work that I will be sharing here as they become available. First and foremost is the latest issue of Lovecraft Ezine, issue #18.
I've sung the praises of this magazine here before, not only for having the wisdom to accept me onboard as an illustrator, but also because I am a rabid Lovecraftian fiction fan who regularly scours the net for new sources of eldritch fiction. The Lovecraft Ezine is, at present, one of the two best and most reliable feeders of my particular addiction (the other being Innsmouth Free Press, who haven't had the wisdom to take me on board yet, but I'll work on that...). Editor and publisher Mike Davis works tirelessly each month to put together a package that's sure to please any fan of HPL's work, and lovers of good, dark fiction in general. And let me tell you...this month he's outdone himself.
Issue 18 of Lovecraft Ezine is a tribute to not only Lovecraft himself, but also to another writer who, until recently, I had no idea had written anything in the Mythos....Roger Zelazny. I've long appreciated Zelazny's "Amber" series as one of the most entertaining fantasy/sci-fi series of its time, and I've read a few short pieces by Zelazny that I thought were entertaining, but to my chagrin, that's about as far as my involvement with the writer went. Then, recently, Mike Davis announced that this month's issue of the Ezine would be themed around Zelazny's novel, "A Night in the Lonesome October", which I had never before heard of, let alone read.
Unable to resist the call to illustrate something related even loosely connected with such a writer, and discover some new Lovecraftiana at the same time, I grabbed a copy immediately and plowed through it as quickly as possible. And thoroughly enjoyed it. For anyone who hasn't read it, Zelazny's novel brings together a group of important 19th Century literary figures in a series of events closely related to the Mythos of Lovecraft's fiction, in a story that crosses genres from mystery to horror to historical fiction nimbly and enjoyably in a way that few writers can. Here's the kicker: the story is told from the perspective of the characters' pets. Mainly from the viewpoint of a dog. See, each character has an animal "familiar" - a dog, a cat, a snake, etc. - who assist their human counterparts in the proceedings of the novel, and the story told is as much, if not more, their story as it is that of the significant figures involved.
Aside from lifting the story from a pastiche of Lovecraft, this device allows Zelazny to inject a level of wry humour into what could otherwise be a very serious, almost bleak, story. It is this unusual perspective that provides much of the raw entertainment of the story and makes it stand out from most of the other works written in the context Lovecraft created.
With this issue of the Ezine, Davis put the call out to writers to submit stories based around the events and characters in "A Night in the Lonesome October", and got back a wealth of fantastic work. The list of authors includes authors such as William Meikle, Edward Morris, and Orrin Grey, among many others. Eight stories and an essay in all, each illustrated by the talented crew of the Ezine, including yours truly. Here's the thing: the introduction for this issue is written by none other than Trent Zelazny, Roger's son and a successful author in his own right. It's as close as the magazine could come to getting a blessing from the man himself.
This time around, I had the pleasure of illustrating "A Counting Game" by Derek Ferreira, a macabre tale featuring a certain prototypical vampire hunter and a famous detective...and a small menagerie of animals, including a vampiric bunny rabbit. No joke.
For this one, having recently been inspired by the art of Mark Summers in a Poe collection we had kicking around the house, I decided to try out a new style. I'll let you decide how well I succeeded at it.
So, while I know I've urged this before, let me say with all sincerity that if you only ever try one issue of Lovecraft Ezine, it should be this one. Not that you're likely to stop at one, what better place to start?
Remember, this thing is free to read online. Of course, I highly recommend you do as I will do and support the magazine by purchasing a Kindle or Nook edition to read on your e-things, but that's up to you. Either way, you should check it out, and don't forget to leave a comment, either here or at the Ezine's website, to let me or the other creators know what you think of the work.
Lovecraft Ezine #18 - perfect pre-Halloween reading.
16 August 2012
In my previous "Stuff I Like" post, I explored my enjoyment of podcasts with Marc Maron's "WTF", and I commented that podcasts are like magazines for my ears. I think that statement is most true in the context of the shows available through the "District of Wonders" podcast network, podcast magazines from producer Tony C. Smith.
My love of genre-based, fiction oriented magazines goes back to my teenage years when I was gifted with a subscription to "Fantasy and Science Fiction" magazine. Through it's page, still pulpy at the time, I discovered for the first time such great fiction as Robert Holdstock's "Mythago Wood" and Stephen King's "The Gunslinger", but I also was given the opportunity to explore such treats as science-based nonfiction articles, editorials by and about the greats of science fiction, poetry (some of it laughably and intentionally bad), and, oddly, the cartoons of Gahan Wilson. From that springboard, I spread my appreciation of the format to include such titles as "Omni", "Twilight Zone", "Asimov's", and then back into the past with "Weird Tales", "Astounding" and the many other pulps I have discovered, and am still discovering along the way.
These days, life and schedules being what they are, I don't have nearly as much time to devote to chasing and enjoying these magazines as I used to, and for years there's been a slightly immature part of my brain urging me to put aside my responsibilities more often and spend more time in my reading chair with a stack of good magazines. That's why I was so pleased (or, as the aforementioned Tony C. Smith might say, "chuffed") to discover Tony Smith's first podcast "Starship Sofa" and plug it's feed into my podcatcher, as it comes as close as anyone can to recreating the format of those beloved magazines in audio format. The fact that it does so on a weekly basis is just gravy. Sweet, sweet gravy.
Each week, Smith combines fact articles such as Amy H. Sturgis explorations into genre history and J. J. Campanella's science articles with at least one usually fantastic and generally long piece of science fiction, with stops along the way for poetry, novel previews and other amusing asides. The fiction is usually the main focus of the episode, with such featured authors as Michael Moorcock, Gene Wolfe, Ray Bradbury and other giants of the genre. The readings are well produced and of the highest quality, as the stories deserve.
The blend of fiction and nonfiction in a structured format with such a commitment to quality and reliability make this a true podcast magazine, and one well deserving of the listener's attention.
Earlier this year, Smith expanded his network to include the so far excellent horror-based podcast "Tales to Terrify", hosted by Lawrence Santoro. Carrying on the format and standards developed by Starship Sofa, this show boasts some unique and informative movie reviews and insights into genre history, as well as presenting fiction from some of the greats of its own genre such as William Hope Hodgson, H. P. Lovecraft , Kim Newman and John Shirley. Santoro makes for a genially creepy host, with much first hand knowledge about the genre and a connoisseur's eye for fiction. As a longtime fan of old time radio shows, I'm always especially pleased to hear him evoke E.G. Marshall in his closing each week.
More recently, the District of Wonders network has expanded again with two new podcasts, Crime City Central, based on mystery stories, and (the frankly unfortunately names for purposes of alliteration) Protecting Project Pulp, presenting stories from the golden age of pulp magazines. Although new, each of these promises to become foremost in the field for their genre, acting as much as archivists of the best in their respective genres as much as audio entertainment.
With such a wealth of audio on a weekly basis, the only problem is keeping up with it all. Just these four shows alone could satisfy a normal audio-fictionophile's (I just made that word up; didja notice?) appetite. In combination with the other excellent podcasts out there (more about which in another post), it's a veritable auditory cornucopia.
The District of Wonders podcasts are, I think, reigniting a love of the genres they represent. Through their deliberate and intelligent selection of material, they are at the same time providing a sense of artistic and cultural validity to that material. Fans of well-presented literature in general, and sci-fi, horror, mystery and pulp in particular, owe it to themselves to plug the District of Wonders shows into their podcatchers and discover some of the best audio magazines the internet has to offer.
12 August 2012
Fresh out on Amazon is something for the little 'uns that I've had the pleasure of illustrating. It's "Tummy Ticklers: 151 Funny Jokes for Kids" by Ella Kennan, with my own work in color on the cover and in black and white at various spots throughout the book.
This is not the sort of thing I usually do, but every once in a while it's nice to break out of my usual genre-based mold and do something fun with a sense of humour. For this particular project, I drew a little on the style of classic artist Jack Davis to try to produce illustrations that had a good visual punch to back up the jokes written by Ella.
Make no mistake: this book is for kids, or at least the young at heart. You're not going to find sophisticated humour a la George Carlin or Bill Hicks in these pages. Not even Jackie the Joke Man, for that matter. The good news is: this book is for kids. It contains the kind of puns and wordplay I love to torture my own kids with, and that I find always engaging enough for young minds to get them started coming up with their own jokes and one liners. If you're looking for a conversation starter with your child or something amusing to share with your classroom, this book would be a good place to start.
Even better is the price. It's available on Kindle right now for a meager 99 cents. At that price, you could even gift it to your young one(s) to get them reading on their own. Just be sure you get them to tell you how much they liked the illustrations.
10 August 2012
Sky Pirates of Valendor, for whom I'll be doing the cover of their next issue, is running an Indiegogo campaign to raise some funds to print the 2nd collection of their comics. For your buy-in (as little as $10!) you can get all kinds of goodies, ranging from a limited edition print by a Marvel artist, up to a starring role in the comic, complete with a custom comic story, written and drawn around your own character. It's some pretty cool stuff, from a pretty cool publisher. Even better, 14% of their proceeds will be going to benefit victims of the Colorado Dark Knight shooting. I recommend you head over there and check out their project page...or I might just have to make ye walk the plank. Yarr, and other piratey noises.
If you want to see what Sky Pirates is all about before you throw tons of cash at them, or if you just want to read some good comics, you should head over to their DriveThru Comics page and check out their incredible bundle deal. For a meager $5.00, you get the whole story so far, including the collected Sky Pirates Vol. 1 and all 5 issues of Vol. 2 to date. That way, you'll be all primed when issue 6 with my cover hits the virtual stands.
20 July 2012
Available now at Amazon's Kindle store, "A Drizzle of Zombies" by Joshua Price features a cover created by your truly. This book is the latest in Price's "Annals of Absurdity" series, for which I'll also be providing the next two covers.
From the book's description:
"Four unlikely heroes. One absurd undertaking.
Like any good supervillain, Dr. Malevolent robs banks, but when the incompetent Captain Rescue intercepts her latest heist, they accidentally trigger a most undeadly threat: zombies! The two sworn enemies must band forces to save the world, dragging along the perfect allies: a shotgun-toting cop, and... a bunny?
The group ventures to the heart of the undead sea to discover who wants to annihilate humanity. Because zombies are only the beginning. Dun dun dun.
The flood starts in... A Drizzle of Zombies."
The basic design for the cover came from Joshua himself, but in my creative contribution, I tried to keep the tone of the piece light to complement the work inside. In rendering the elements for the cover, I deliberately tried to recall the style of some of the popular humour novels on the market now (see Amy Sedaris's books , for example), while using darker tones and linework to communicate the more genre-based elements of the book. Joshua's work is an entertaining blend of humour, action and sci-fi/superhero fiction, so the trick was to find the right balance between light and dark. I think the end result works rather well. Comments?
A book like this would make for some excellent summer reading, especially for those fond of work by authors like Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams or Christopher Moore. Just the thing for an afternoon at the beach or a few idle hours spent hanging around the coffee shop.
25 June 2012
Available now, for your eldritch enjoyment, is issue #15 of the Lovecraft Ezine. This time around, I illustrate the lead story, "Bus Stop" by Jerod Brennen. I had a lot of fun producing art for this creepy little tale, helped by the fact that I was watching the new version of "The Thing" while I drew it, so I think it has an extra little bit of tentacular goodness.
You can read the story and see the illustration for free here, or, as always, you can get the magazine on your Kindle or Nook.
Also, while you're at the site, why not check out their store...there's lots of interesting Lovecraft related goodness there, including some fantastic statues that are at least worth looking at.
Meantime, here's my illustration from issue 12 of that same magazine, from the story "A Catechism for Aspiring Amnesiacs" by Nicole Cushing. It's really more of a photo-manipulation, but I think it was very effective, and earned me some good comments from the story's author, so I must have done something right. Enjoy.
17 June 2012
It's been too long since we've had a new volume of stories from Robin Reed, so I am happy to report that the latest and final chapter in the Powers Vs. Power saga has just been released. Once again, I am happy to have provided the cover art for this collection of superhero-based stories, this time with a tribute to some classic superhero comic book covers (a cookie for you if you can name the issues being referenced!). You can see a preview of the cover below, but to get the book you've got to head over to Smashwords and grab it for just 99 cents! While you're there, be sure to grab the first two volumes in this series, and let me also recommend Robin's other book, "Mama" and "Halloween Sky", two of the finest works of horror available on Smashwords. You could grab the lot of them for just a few bucks and have yourself a summer's worth of good reading. I know I've just nabbed a copy of "Powers vs. Power" vol. 3 and am looking forward to diving back into that world. With a cool cover like this, how could you say no?
07 June 2012
Naturally, the net is abuzz with the news that Ray Bradbury passed on. To say that his work has been influential on me is beyond understatement. "Something Wicked This Way Comes" gave my consciousness a good kick in the pants when I first read it, and I think "Halloween Tree" should be recommended reading for every young person. I have had the pleasure not only of reading his work, but also of hearing recordings of him reading his own stories, listening to dramatizations of his work in OTR show like "X Minus One" and seeing him host television adaptations of his stories in "Ray Bradbury Theatre". Actually, I don't think there's a medium I enjoy where I haven't encountered Bradbury at some point.
I still find myself turning to Bradbury time and again, most often when I'm looking to experience that wistful, bittersweet sentimentality of which he was clearly a master. I don't think there's an October that passes without my breaking open at least one of his stories, and knowing that there's still a lot of his work I haven't read, I don't know that there ever will be such an October.
In his collection "Quicker Than the Eye", Bradbury had a story, "Last Rites", in which a time traveler visits famous authors on their deathbed to see them off with the knowledge their work would long outlive them and move readers for generations to come. While I cannot see that an author like Bradbury was unaware of his own effect on literature, I do like to fancy that in his final days he was blessed with a time traveler of his own. Certainly if any author in this last century deserved such a visit, it was him.
"I give you my hand on it, and pledge my soul and my heart's blood." The visitor
moved to do just this, and the two men's fists fused as one. "Take these gifts
to the grave. Count these pages like a rosary in your last hours. Tell no one
where they came from. Scoffers would knock the ritual beads from your fingers.
So tell this rosary in the dark before dawn, and the rosary is this: you will
live forever. You are immortal."
24 May 2012
Did you know that you can now get the Lovecraft eZine via Amazon? I mean, you've always been able to get it for your Kindle via their own website, but now the most recent issues, including the latest one, are available on Amazon as well. Given the low price (just 0.99 per issue!) and the ease of Amazon's One-Click service (this is not just shilling....it really is about the easiest way to buy an ebook), it's got to be the best way of getting a regular dose of great writing on your ereader or mobile thingy. I don't have any work in the May issue due to scheduling issues, but there's lots of talented people who do, and if you even slightly enjoy weird fiction, this magazine is well worth a look.
By the way, I am scheduled to have an illustration in the June issue, so make sure you grab that one as well.
20 April 2012
I don't have a lot of new work to post right now; besides working on the next volume of "Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit", I've been working on some private commissions that I'm not really free to post to this space. I've got a cover coming up for an issue of "Sky Pirates of Valendor", but that's about it for public work for now.
Still, I've got to use this space for something, don't I? So, I thought it might be a good opportunity to start sharing some reviews of things I enjoy. Like my self-publishing work, this will be done on an "as I can get to it" basis, and when I haven't got anything more important to do, or I'm not trying to catch up on new releases on Netflix. Who says I haven't got my priorities straight?
I like podcasts. A lot. As I write this, I've got 29 episodes of 27 different podcasts waiting on my phone...and only that few because I've made a concerted effort in recent weeks to whittle down that number, as I felt I was getting backlogged.
Podcasts for me are like magazines for my ears; they're a direct channel of information from the source to my brain without requiring the intermediate use of my hands or eyes. That means that I can consume them by the gigabyte while engaged in other things, like certain aspects of my day job, or while at the drawing board, or while doing paste up on the next book for AIM Comics. Podcasts are free, disposable infotainment and are easily accessible on a good podcatcher, in my case "Pocket Casts" for Android. Through the use of podcasts, I get daily doses of fiction, news, comedy, interviews, history lessons and shows on just about anything else I care to take an interest in, with some stops for guilty pleasures along the way (more on those another day). They make my workday go a little bit faster while allowing me to consume information at a much faster rate than I could just by reading. In short, I think they are the perfect form of disposable media.
One podcast I've come to recently, and rather late, is WTF with Marc Maron. It's an interview-based show hosted by standup comedian and insightful neurotic Marc Maron in which he talks with contemporaries and legends in the entertainment industry. I've missed a lot of the shows and haven't yet signed up for the premium package to get access to his back catalog, but since I've started listening, I've heard Marc give great interviews with such people as Jeffry Tambor, Russell Brand, Chris Rock, Michael Cera, Mindy Kaling, Penn Jilette and Weird Al Yankovic.
Maron is really using the novelty and freedom of the medium to its finest in this series. We're so used to seeing celebrity interviews as shallow two minute snippets on Entertainment Tonight that it's easy to forget there's a deeper aspect to the work these people produce and the roads they take to create that work. Maron uses the long format of his show (most episodes run over an hour to an hour and a half in length) to get behind the creative process of the subject, as well as their own developmental process as a creative person. This always leads to a better understanding and appreciation of the people and their work, and often to the creative process in general. It's rare that I finish an episode of WTF without at least one small moment of satori.
What really helps in this process is that Marc is very open about his own life and frame of mind, and as an experienced standup comedian, he has decades of stories from inside the industry. He injects a lot of himself into each interview to establish a personal connection with his subjects and reaps a much richer harvest as a result. It seems at this point that subjects come to his "garage" expecting to have their personal lives delved a bit and bring a willingness to open up more than usual.
Occasionally, Marc will also host a live WTF event with a panel of comedians which make for some of his funniest episodes. And this is a comedy podcast at heart; Mark always seems to be able to infuse a sense of humour into the conversation, no matter how dark the subject matter may get (check out the Matt Graham episode from February to see what I mean). He's got a self-deprecating intellectual approach that never allows things to stay too serious for too long.
What's especially funny to me is that I remember when Marc was a guest on the "Nobody Likes Onions" podcast a few years ago. He commented on how impressed he was with the show's setup at that time, saying something to the effect that "I got to get me one of these podcasts". Skip forward a couple of years and his show has developed a huge amount of status and a large following, and he has become one of the premiere names in the medium.
Updating at least weekly, "WTF" is one of the shows I most look forward to in my playlist. Even when he's interviewing someone I've never heard of, Marc always makes the show enjoyable and insightful. I recommend that anyone interested in the inner workings of the entertainment industry give it a try. If nothing else, do yourself a favor and listen to the episode with Penn Jilette (who knew his family is from Newfoundland?).
"WTF With Marc Maron"...stick it in your ears.
26 March 2012
The latest issue of Lovecraft EZine is now up for your enjoyment. This time around, I"ve got a photo manipulation illustration for Nicole Cushing's story "A Catechism for Aspiring Amnesiacs", a wonderful story that I am proud to be attached to. As always, the issue is free to read online, but I do strongly recommend shelling out the 99 cents a month to get the mobile version for Kindle or Nook (or the apps thereof...). It's always a great read, and definitely deserves your support.
Meantime, here's a preview of my cover from Issue 11, sans cover copy. Astute viewers will notice a difference between this version and the one published on the magazine's cover. That's because this piece was originally created for the serialized online mythos novel "City of Pillars" by Derek Pegritz, but has sat in my unused folder for a while since publication ceased on that story. I was happy to be able to find a home for it at Lovecraft EZine, and to finally be able to share it with an appreciative audience. I've got a couple more images from the same project that I've yet to find a place for, but I'm sure I will eventually. Enjoy.
20 February 2012
The latest issue of Lovecraft eZine is up, and this time I've managed to snag myself a cover spot. This time, I depict a Great Old One menacing the shores of a major metropolis....check it out over at Lovecraft eZine.
As usual, you can read the magazine online for free, or pay a small amount to download it for your mobile reading device. I recommend the latter option, since us Lovecraft fans need to be doing as much as we can to keep work like this alive, and publisher Mike Davis really rolls out a top notch effort with every issue. Even better, subscribe to the magazine for a buck a month, and they'll email you the mobile version when it's available.
To really put the icing on the cake, be sure to check out their newest feature, audio versions of the stories in the magazine. Nothing makes that walk in the park more enjoyable than pouring some eldritch horror into your ears!
Just to give you a taste of the kind of work I'm doing for this magazine, here's my illustration for the Henrik Harksen story "Just an Accountant" in issue #9. It's an attempt to evoke a little of the old Virgil Finlay Weird Tales style. Not entirely successful, as I don't yet have Finlay's masterful hand with hatching, but I think it's headed in the right direction. What do you think?
24 January 2012
At Hal-Con 2011 in November, I had the good fortune to meet Marvel artist Nick Bradshaw, and more importantly to grab a copy of a limited edition print he was selling with some incredible art featuring a giant ape and a couple of hungry dinos. Apes and dinos? What's not to like?
Of course, one of the reasons I had to get my hot little hands on this piece was so I could have the fun of adding color to the piece. Nick's art is heavily detailed, so it took quite a bit of what I laughingly call my spare time to do this, but I think the end result was definitely worth it. I've shared the piece over on Nick's Facebook wall, and thought it would be fun to post it here as well. This is a pretty big piece, so be sure to click through to see it in all it's glory. And be sure to check out Nick's work over at Facebook, or at Marvel Comics. As always, comments and criticisms are welcome.
I should add, for the sake of keeping myself honest, that the original art is copyright Nick Bradshaw, and this color job was not commissioned by nor is it endorsed by him. It was done just for fun, and is being reposted here for the same reason.
16 January 2012
I frankly love Warren Ellis for being a writer, and writing this. Especially for writing this:
"You are, in many ways, writing a love letter intended to woo the artist into giving their best possible work to the job. A bored or unengaged artist will show up on the page like a fibrous stool in the toilet bowl, and that’s not their fault — it’s yours."
I'm a writer as well as an artist, although more of the latter than the former these days. If nothing else, I know the value of giving an artist clear instructions and then allowing them to do what they do best, which is make art. Not ape someone else's style. Not modify someone else's work. Not if you want to get their best work.
At the risk of whining, let me just add that you're even more responsible for the lackluster results you get when you give the artist hardly any instruction up front, then wait until they deliver the finished work and make them change everything, as if he or she was supposed to psychically divine your intent of the fine details from the start. Then ask them to change it all again. Then make them do it in someone else's style.
As much comic art is work for hire, I know that a writer can't allow the artist to run doolally all over the script, but a good relationship between creative types should be symbiotic, not reminiscent of that between an office manager and a cubicle monkey. The philosophy espoused by Mr. Ellis above is why writers like he and Alan Moore always get such amazing results from the artists they work with. Look at Planetary, or From Hell, or for that matter Millar and McNiven's "Nemesis" or Mills and Bisley's "Slaine", and tell me that those artists weren't having a ball, and that the work isn't better for it.
Do yourself a favor, especially if you're a writer, and go read the rest of Warren Ellis's article, "What a Comics Script is For". An artist, and your readers, may someday thank you.