by Arnie Fenner

Time flies, doesn’t it? In a few weeks Spectrum 19 will dock on the West Coast, clear Customs, travel by rail to the distributor, and from there find its way to the booksellers and into the hands of readers. Almost concurrently the Call For Entries poster will go into the mail and Spectrum 20 will open. One of the things we’ve already been thinking about is the Grand Master Honoree for our twentieth anniversary.

Unlike many other awards, the Grand Master can only be presented once to an artist—so obviously a lot of thought and discussion goes into who receives it each year. Sometimes it’s incredibly easy, sometimes there’s a lot of back and forth among the Spectrum Advisory Board as to who the honoree should be; on more than one occasion a selection that seemed sure was suddenly challenged and, in the subsequent debates, minds were changed and someone different became the recipient. Our current board consists of Rick Berry, Brom, Mark Chiarello, Diane Dillon, Harlan Ellison, John Fleskes, Irene Gallo, Bud Plant, Tim Underwood, and Michael R. Whelan. Cathy and I do not have a vote.

What is the criteria to receive the Grand Master Award? Well, at the time the designation is given the artist must be living; their careers must have passed the 20 year point; their work must have achieved a high level of skill and quality that has been maintained throughout the course of their career; and their art and their attitude must have had a profound impact upon and been a positive influence for the field as a whole. Since the Board includes some artists who are deserving of the designation, those artists have been recused from discussions when their names have been brought up for consideration: Don Punchatz, the Dillons, and Mike Whelan never knew they were in the running until the announcement was made that they were the winners. Recently, two GM honorees passed away prior to the announcement—Al Williamson and Ralph McQuarrie—which confused a few people, but…both were still with us when the Board bestowed the honor.

This year we were able to present the award in front of an audience for the first time at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live: Jim Gurney had absolutely no idea that he was going to receive the award—which made the ceremony incredibly fun.

So the board has been debating for the past month: who should be the Grand Master for Spectrum 20? Who is deserving? Well…we know. And, if we can be sneaky and swing it, they’ll be a Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 2 next May to receive the award in front of their peers and fans.

But until then, a little review of previous honorees in the order they recieved the award…

Frank Frazetta

Don Ivan Punchatz

Leo & Diane Dillon

James E. Bama

John C. Berkey

Alan Lee

Jean “Moebius” Giraud

Kinuko Y. Craft

Michael William Kaluta

Michael R. Whelan

H.R. Giger

Jeffrey Jones

Syd Mead

John Jude Palencar

Richard V. Corben

Al Williamson

Ralph McQuarrie

James Gurney