Super Nova(con)

A convention snapshot…

Novacon is the UK’s longest-established science fiction convention. It started in 1971 as the Birmingham Science Fiction Group’s annual meetup, then expanded and moved around over the years, eventually finding its spiritual home in Nottingham. Novacon is a little different to your bigger conventions; there are no costumes or that sort of thing, and has a stronger emphasis on the literary side of SF&F, but all aspects of fandom are covered – film, television and comics, etc. As you might expect, there’s a rolling programme of panel discussions, science talks, art talks and a whole range of other things alongside book launches, author readings and of course, the busy dealer’s room, fantastic art show and art auction. Every year offers something different and a Guest of Honour whose presence, interests and work form a central point to many of the discussions. 

This year’s Guest of Honour was Mike Carey – perhaps now best known as author of The Girl With All the Gifts. Needless to say, the film and book were regular talking points, as were Carey’s Felix Castor series and his work in the graphic novel industry. In fact, the discussions around comics and graphic novels was refreshing and really interesting for me, as a one-time wannabe comic artist! Mike also gave us several engaging readings from his forthcoming novel, The Book of Koli

I have been going to Novacon since 2012 and have met a wide range of amazing people – many have become good friends and others I’ve gone on to collaborate with on cover art. During Sunday’s closing ceremony, Mike Carey described Novacon as “warm hearted”, and I couldn’t have put it better. The bulk of the membership is made up by many familiar, returning faces. It is an easygoing and welcoming convention and refreshing to be able to casually chat with renowned authors or artists without any sense of celebrity or ego. This year, Christopher Priest attended with his daughter Elizabeth – now also a published writer. It was great to have the time to catch up with him, as I have admired his writing for many years. 

The convention drink of choice is Black Sheep ale, which tends to start flowing early on and continues throughout the weekend. It may result in people falling asleep during talks and snoring loudly (the point at which a polite reminder they’ve also paid for a bed wouldn’t be a bad thing). But loud nasal interference aside, it is always nice to have the flexibility that the con offers; some folk attend all the talks, some are more selective, while others simply seem to go purely for the social side of things and set up camp in the bar, catching up with old friends and making new ones.

While the crowd ought to (and deserves to) be a little larger, what I do like about this convention is its size, as you can find the time and space for proper conversation; and if you want to find somebody again, you can – unlike at bigger events such as Eastercon where everything is so packed and frantic, and simply trying to track somebody down or have a conversation in more than passing is quite difficult.

I mainly attend Novacon to be a part of the art show. It is always an honour to be able to exhibit my work alongside renowned space and science fiction artist, David A. Hardy (who has been at every Novacon since 1973!). The art show brings in a vast range of styles and genres, from new artists to well-known names. The art room – or in this year’s case, rooms – are brimming with science fiction, space and fantasy art and illustration in all media, plus various other arts and crafts, such as jewellery, needlework and even knitwear! Serena and John always work tirelessly to make sure their artists are looked after, and we can never thank them enough! Most of the art on show comes with a bid sheet for any potential buyers, and the pieces with bids are entered into the art auction on the Sunday.

The dealers’ room mainly comprises booksellers and independent publishers, such as PS Publishing, NewCon Press and Elsewhen Press – all of whom are putting out some of the most exciting and original titles in science and speculative fiction, fantasy and horror. 

It’s not all about science fiction though – Novacon doesn’t forget the science bit! Although this year, there was no British Interplanetary Society presence, David A. Hardy gave us a whirlwind visual tour of the planets, via his excellent presentation To the Stars – On A Paintbrush!, and as always, there were two science talks. I missed the first, but astrophysicist, Dr Rachael Livermore gave an excellent insight on the Sunday morning into Dark Matter – a fascinating and fun way to start the day (even though I tend to find science talks first thing in the morning a little too much for my convention brain!). 

I took part in the panel which followed – a great discussion on working with artists, alongside Mike Carey, Manga expert Zoe Burgess and Peter Buck of Elsewhen Press – all chaired by Patrick McMurray. I have obviously attended enough Novacons now to have progressed from audience member to panel participant! 

Novacon for me is also about those great connections. Two such examples are Elsewhen Press, whom I met during my first Novacon, and have since illustrated several of their book covers; and a couple of conventions later, I met Helen Claire Gould, who after seeing my art display, invited me to produce the cover art for her début novel, Floodtide – it was great to see Helen back at Novacon this year, promoting the book as well as her more recent titles.

The Sunday afternoon sadly comes around so quickly, and it doesn’t feel like a few minutes have past since installing the art show on the Friday, when the time comes to reluctantly disassemble it. However, with not one, but four Guests of Honour booked for next year – Novacon’s big five-o – it will certainly be an event to look forward to.

After all, what more could you want, but to share a hotel with several hundred likeminded people?

Novacon 49. Photos by Alexa Dubreuil-Storer

New art, Novacon 49 and Mutate promo

The science fiction gallery page has been updated with the addition of two brand new pieces of artwork, Simulacrum and Into Battle.

These two pieces plus many others will be part of my display in the art show at next month’s Novacon – the UK’s longest-running science fiction convention. This year’s Guest of Honour is writer Mike Carey, perhaps best known for The Girl With All the Gifts. If you’re going, do drop by the art room and say hello!

Finally, here are two promotional videos for Mutate:

Album release teaser:

Mutation – full length video

The Call of the Aïdin Planet – in print!

Today I received copies of the hardback and paperback versions of L.Z. Dàin’s novel, The Call of the Aïdin Planet – book one of The Legacy Saga – to which I had the pleasure of illustrating and designing the cover.

I’m delighted with just how good they look in print, and as always, it is a genuine pleasure to see an author’s dream become a reality. To find out more, visit: https://www.theaidinhorizon.net

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Cover art: The Call of the Aïdin Planet

I’m delighted to reveal my cover art for The Call of the Aïdin Planet, by L.Z.Dàin – book one of The Legacy Saga from Seattle-based publisher, Tales of the Horizon.

The_Call_of_The_Aïdin_Planet_cover.png

“Nine-hundred thousand years ago, seven Galactic Humans discover a mysterious Time singularity on planet Earth. But, obscure powers beyond the many worlds of the Galactic Union will not stop until they control it. Thus, the seven must make a choice, a choice that will not only affect their evolutionary future but the destiny of Earth itself.”

As much as I love the opportunity to come up with initial ideas for a cover, I really like it when the author or publisher have a clear vision of what they’d like on the cover. It is their book after all! Sometimes this process can be flexible, depending on what ideas I may have or that I feel could add impact, and on other occasions, simply my own interpretation of the initial brief does the job. It is important to me that the finished work is typical of my style and approach to a distinctive cover but more importantly, what I come up with has to match their vision – and good collaboration and communication is key to that. The cover for this book is a fine example of a project perfectly coming together, despite us being on opposite sides of the globe!

Even when there’s a clear brief, I’ll always work up a quick black & white sketch, to make sure the composition and my interpretation are correct.

The Call of The Aïdin Planet cover sketch

Finally, I took the various elements of the illustration and created an animated reveal for the cover art:

The Call of the Aïdin Planet is available in paperback and ebook via Amazon. Further details about Tales of the Horizon can be found on their website.

Duncan Jones’ Comic Art Commission Doodaa!

Over the weekend Duncan Jones, director of Moon and Mute (etc) announced an exciting illustration project/experiment via Twitter, which has been met with great response. Jones asked his followers to suggest comic artists for a commission project in which a long list would be narrowed down to three artists who would then illustrate a scene of their choosing from Moon or Mute.

I’m thrilled to be included in the initial list, but now I need your help and votes… so do take a look at the full description of the website, and get voting!

http://blog.manmademovies.co.uk/2019/04/28/duncan-jones-comic-art-commission-doodaa/

Shoreline of Infinity’s Soundwave Podcast – Episode Two

Edinburgh-based science fiction magazine Shoreline of Infinity‘s recently launched podcast, Soundwave (to which I lent my music!).

Last summer I recorded an extensive interview with the Soundwave host RJ Bayley, discussing all aspects of my work and interest in science fiction and beyond. A genuinely great fun hour of conversation! We conducted the interview via Skype, which accounts for my echoey room… but echoes aside, we discussed so many things, including synaesthesia, artistic influences and creative processes.

But it’s not all about me – you’ll also hear narrative from other Shoreline contributors. Episode two is available to stream and download now.

https://shorelineofinfinity.podbean.com

Random Number Generator cover art

My first new cover art for 2019 is for A. Maldon’s new collection of science fiction short stories, Random Number Generator.

Random_Number Generator

I discussed various aspects of the title story with the author and initially worked up several different cover concepts. We both agreed that the image of a young boy wired into some kind of menacing looking machinery would make for a striking and interesting cover.

Below is the concept sketch:

Random Number Generator cover concept

Random Number Generator is out now in ebook format.

Introducing “Soundwave” – the new science fiction podcast

I’m really happy to have been involved in Soundwave, an exciting new science fiction podcast from Edinburgh-based publication, Shoreline of Infinity.

The Shoreline of Infinity magazine has gone from strength to strength, recently winning the British Fantasy Society Award for best magazine/periodical, and the next step in this creative and collaborative journey – which champions new and existing writers, artists and more – is the launch of this podcast.

I have been interviewed for a future edition of Soundwave, but my initial involvement was the production of the intro and background music.

Episode Zero of Shoreline of Infinity’s Soundwave can be heard here.

Cover art for Alice Sabo’s “Desperate Measures”

Here is the front cover artwork for Desperate Measures – book five of Alice Sabo’s Changed World Series.

This cover was an enjoyable challenge. Alice had a rough idea of the kind of thing she wanted, but wasn’t sure how or even if it would work as a book cover, so that’s when it fell to me to come up with an atmospheric and thought provoking image, that would also sit comfortably alongside the other books in the series.

With most of Alice’s previous covers, I have always worked up one or two rough sketches beforehand, whereas with this one, I launched straight into the actual artwork.

Desperate Measures is out now – check out Alice’s blog for further information.

Desperate_Measures_WEB

Out now – No Space for Justice

Following the previous post on my cover art for William N. Gilmore’s science fiction/crime novel No Space for Justice, as promised, here is the full front and back illustration for the paperback edition, which is available now via Amazon.

No Space For Justice cover spread

And here is a photo of the finished book itself, which landed this week – William kindly sent all the way from Atlanta! Now that’s a well-traveled book.

The moment you see your pixels come to life in print never fails to be rewarding.

No Space for Justice Paperback