-By Arnie Fenner

The 2017 Grand Master Award was presented April 22 at the Folly Theater in Kansas City, MO during Spectrum Fantastic Art Live. As determined by the Spectrum Advisory Board—consisting of Brom, Alice Carter, Mark Chiarello, Cathy Fenner, Rebecca Guay, James Gurney, Charles Kochman, Iain McCaig, and Virginie Ropars—the Grand Master Award is intended as recognition of an influential artist’s significant achievements within—and contribution to—the field of Fantastic Art.

Bill Sienkiewicz more than meets the criteria for the honor.

Born May 8, 1958 in Blakely, PA, Boleslav William Felix Robert “Bill” Sienkiewicz began drawing when he “was about four or five” and has never stopped. After attending the Newark School of Fine Art and Industrial Design, Bill launched his career at the age of 19 with assignments for Marvel Comics. Though initially showing the influence of Neal Adams (as well as earlier comics artists Curt Swan and Jack Kirby), he quickly evolved into a wholly original and unique creator; using his solid drawing skills as a springboard, Bill literally broke all the “rules” of sequential storytelling and cheerfully experimented with paint, pencil, ink, collage, and practically any other media he could lay his hands on and apply to a surface. From job to job, from book to book, readers never knew what to expect from him other than something wonderful—and he delivered. Bill subsequently brought that same sense of excitement, urgency, and innovation to his illustration and advertising assignments as well.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uS036euMpM?rel=0]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFQ1UVM2irQ?rel=0]

Whether illustrating the worlds of Elektra, Batman, Daredevil, Captain Ahab, Jimi Hendrix, The Shadow, or the New Mutants (which he co-created with Chris Claremont and has been turned into an acclaimed series on FX, Legion), whether exploring the realms of Dune or Star Wars or Stray Toasters (his own creation) or Carmen Sandiego, Bill confidently and unquestionably becomes a definitive, integral and irreplaceable voice in all their stories. He becomes the voice that guides and enthralls us.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEw-pSItC1E?rel=0]

In recent years Bill has lectured at art schools and conferences and has become an instructor for the Illustration Academy where he helps students refine their skills and explore career possibilities in various online and in-person workshops. A fearless advocate for artists’—and, indeed, human—rights, Bill Sienkiewicz is a leader who not only cares deeply—about craft, about content, about message, about people—but who speaks out, takes action, and gives back to the community.

That’s the epitome of what a Grand Master is; that’s who Bill Sienkiewicz is.

To put it simply, he is one of our own and one of our best.

Congratulations, Bill Sienkiewicz, 2017 Spectrum Grand Master!