by Arnie Fenner
Every year I help compile a list of genre-focused art books for Locus magazine’s annual “recommended reading” feature for their February issue. Naturally, not all of my suggestions make the final published list; there’s only so much room, after all, and the opinions of other contributors, as well as those of the Locus editors, ultimately are part of the decision process. With that in mind, I thought, as a book junky, I’d share my personal list of notable titles that appeared in 2016. There’s no order of preference, no groupings based on criteria beyond the simple fact that I liked it. As mentioned in the publisher credits, some were self-produced (often as Kickstarter projects) and might not be widely available so I’ve included links for shoppers.
Drawing from History: The Forgotten Art of Fortunino Matania by Lucinda Gosling (Book Palace)
The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by John Kushins/LucasFilm Ltd. (Harry N. Abrams)
Beauties/Beasts by Olivia de Beradinis & Jordu Schell (Baby Tattoo Books)
Carbon 2 by Mark Schultz (Flesk Publications)
Forget-Me-Not by Claire Wendling (Stuart Ng)
The Art of Jock by Will Dennis (Insight Editions)
Things from the Flood by Simon Stålenhag (Design Studio Press)
The Art of DC Comics Bombshells edited by Ant Lucia (DC Comics)
Brian Kesinger’s Sketchbook (self published)
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin/illustrated by Gary Gianni (Bantam)
The Sci-Fi & Fantasy Art of Patrick J. Jones (Korero Press)
Naturally, this isn’t some sort of completist’s survey; there were plenty of other genre art books, illustrated novels and collections, art-of movie concept art compilations, how-to, and sketchbooks published last year, both good and…not so good (which I’ve delicately not mentioned)…but these are the ones that stood out for me. Just as there were any number of noteworthy non-genre books, like William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master (Yale University Press), Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio (Metropolitan Museum of Art), or John Singer Sargent and the Art of Allusion (Yale University Press) that, if included, would easily make this post much longer than it already is. I’ve also studiously avoided mentioning the (now-fading) 2015/2016 fad of “adult coloring books,” not because I’m not extremely happy for every artist who was able to profit from it (I am), but simply because I thought the whole thing was kinda…silly. But that’s just me.
I will conclude by saying that the audience for art books of any type tends to be rarified and retailers are extremely picky in what they stock and what they don’t. If you want to see more genre art books, purchase them (if you can afford them) or check them out from your library and encourage your friends to do likewise. Share them. Talk about them. Help grow the appreciation for our field. Interest often translates into sales and sales (or lack of same) dictate availability and selection.
If I’ve overlooked your favorite from 2016, please feel free to chime in.