Just in time to start your New Year right, there's a brand-spanking-new (and FREE!) issue of Thrice Fiction out today!
As usual, I'll be discussing the artwork that went into our latest issue. This may or may not include spoilers for the stories, so I urge you to please read it before proceeding. Okay? Okay!
This issue was a bit strange for the way it came together so very quickly... and then proceeded to fall apart with equal rapidity.
And throughout the entire ordeal of trying to get our latest issue out the door before the end of December, I kept thinking what an incredible honor it is for writers to trust us with their works... and how mind-bogglingly easy it would be to drop the ball and have have that trust be misplaced. Which is why every time we run into a new problem, I keep saying to myself "Better late than crappy!" and that somehow gets me through.
The biggest challenge I faced was my grandmother's sudden illness and eventual passing. Time spent with her became more precious to me than anything else on earth, including everyone's favorite fiction magazine. A big part of who I am was formed by her example, and dedicating Issue No. 15 to her memory seems only fitting as I... and by extension the magazine... wouldn't be here without her.
One of the last problems to face me was also the biggest... what to do about the cover. I had lined up an artist which I had been trying to work with for over a year now, but things fell apart at zero hour. Looking back at the last several covers of our past issues, they all had a "cold" look to them, so I was trying to come up with a "warm" color idea to break things up. That's when I remembered a beautiful "fiery" piece that frequent contributor Chad Roseburg had shown to me. I didn't know if he'd be willing to let me butcher it with a new crop for the cover, but it didn't hurt to ask. Lucky for all of us, he was happy to let me use it, and this was the amazing result...
Chad says "That painting was one of those combinations of pure luck and a tight deadline. I never paint as confidently and fluidly as this painting might suggest. Usually I over-think and over-paint." Which sounds like a stressful process, but you can't argue with the results! The left half of the piece was cut off, which was a truly interesting bit, so I placed it opposite RW's notes for the issue...
And now, for a look at the first half of the art included in this issue, read onward in an extended entry...
INSIDE FRONT COVER. What better way to introduce Thrice readers to our latest art contributor than to put his work on the inside-front cover? Chad Yenney is a collage artist from my home state of Washington who creates wonderfully imaginative works by combing through old magazines for materials. As always, I try to find something to wake our readers up with before jumping into the issue, and Chad rose to that challenge with Signal Tracer.
PAGE 3. As a frequent traveler, Ray Nessly's Grounded struck an immediate chord with me, and I was laughing out loud once the woman sitting next to our travel hero pressed the attendant call button... twice. That seemed the perfect moment to pull the visual from, so I drew up a woman pressing that button. Then thought it was kind of boring, so I ran it through some Photoshop filters to add a little texture to it.
PAGES 6-7. Rob Cook's A Life Forgotten by Iron Voorhees was a difficult story to place. I was torn between finding a way to have it stand alone... and very much wanting to find another piece to pair with it. When I got to Nancy Hightower's Smiling Buddhas, I thought it was a great match, and passed them along to Chad to see what he would come up with. He ended up using the same color tone to tie them together, but wisely went with darker shades for Voorhees and lighter shades for Buddhas to reflect the stories.
PAGES 8-9. Ginna Luck's Listen and Clodagh O’Brien's Salute came one right after the other, and flowed so perfectly from one to the next that they stayed together during an entire week of laying out the issue. Katelin Kinney took on each image with her usual enthusiasm and imagination, capturing imagery that was a perfect match.
PAGE 10. Maroula Blades had previously sent us a story which had me creating one of my most memorable works for Thrice back in Issue No. 8 (the powerful Waiting) so I was excited to see her name pop up again. Needless to say, she did not disappoint. Rather than steal her Dripping Teeth for myself, I sent it to Kyra Wilson to see what she'd find to accompany the story. When this incredible scorpion painting landed in my in-box, my jaw dropped to the floor and I found myself once again amazed at how talented and versatile an artist she is. Then I read Kyra's email telling me she was a bit disappointed with how this turned out. This had me mystified to the point that I said out loud "Is she frickin' kidding me?!?" in disbelief. I would give anything to paint like this! But, as a fellow artist, I know what it's like to be critical of your own work... even when everybody else would say that you totally nailed it... so I guess she can be forgiven.
PAGE 11. Yeah. Remember how I was talking about being amazed by what a talented and versatile artist Kyra is? When Carol Malkin's Ripples Run Deep arrived, there was nobody else I wanted to touch it. The haunting beauty of the prose seemed taylor-made for Kyra, and this stunning piece she created proves I was 110% right. With so many of her amazing works in our pages, I hesitate to call this "my favorite"... but, well, it's probably my favorite. She agonized over every detail of a difficult concept to pull off this convincingly, and it shows.
Annnnnd... probably the perfect point to take a break. Join me tomorrow for Part Two...