Remember awhile back when I mentioned that Cathy and I were planning to do a quarterly Spectrum bookazine? Guess what: the first volume is done. And what do I mean by “bookazine?” Well, I guess it’s something of a marriage of design, editorial, and graphics in a format that reads like a magazine but sits happily with the books on your shelf. It’s not exactly a new concept: if you hop in the way-back machine and take a look at Herb Lubalin’s Avant Garde or at Ralph Ginzburg’s hardcover Eros (which was also designed by Lubalin) you’ll see just how neat the idea is.

So while we’ve been figuring out all the minutia that goes into reorganizing the Spectrum competition and annual (and, lemme tell you, there are some cool discussions going on…if we can only figure out the logistics) and preparing to open #28 for entries, we put our heads together with some friends and decided to create the Spectrum Fantastic Art Quarterly to stay engaged with the community while the competition/book gets rebuilt—and have some fun in the process. And “fun” is the key word here: as we mention in the introduction to Vol 1, it’s sort of a throw-back to my days publishing fanzines (or “semiprozines” or “boutique magazines” or whatever you want to call them), that are produced out of love with making a buck, though important, secondary. SFAQ is a 12″x12″, perfect-bound, full-color softcover; it’s about and for fantastic artists of all sensibilities—and that includes illustrators, gallery painters, sculptors, art directors, calligraphers, comics artists, and more—and for everyone interested in the people and history of our field. Is it perfect? Nope. Did we probably make some dumb mistakes or let some typos slip by us? Undoubtedly. But it was most certainly fun to put together and we’ve got all kinds of ideas for features and designs percolating in our noggins—all ideas that work better for a “bookazine” rather than a traditional magazine or book, if you know what I mean. If it works, it works; if it doesn’t, we’ll at least have had a good time trying.

I detailed what we’re not going to do in the earlier Muddy Colors post and am happy to say we haven’t changed our minds. So if we’re not shooting for mass-market saturation or taking orders, how can you get a copy? Take a look at the following preview and at the end you’ll find links to where you’ll be able to order if you’re interested.

Front cover by the remarkable Dan dos Santos. Mercy Thompson asks, “What are you looking at?”

Lauren Panepinto gives everyone a peek behind the publishing curtain and demystifies working with an art director. We like to think of this piece as a companion to or extension of the very enlightening “Drawn & Drafted” bootcamps. Students and newbies: you need this essay. (And Lauren’s portrait? By the inimitable Greg Manchess, naturally!)

Think you already know everything about the late great Frank Frazetta? Guess again. This feature includes remembrances by Frank’s sisters Carol Frazzetta and Jean Frazzetta Faillace, his children Bill Frazetta, Holly Frazetta, and Heidi Frazetta, collaborators on the film Fire and Ice, James Gurney and Steven E. Gordon, friend William Stout, and granddaughter Sara Frazetta. Previously unpublished photos (including this wonderful portrait by Greg Preston) and art are included along with several classic paintings. Oh…and I write something, too, and include some quotes from my interviews with Frank and Ellie.

Cathy has a thoughtful chat with the Hugo Award-winning artist Elizabeth Leggett and shows many beautiful examples of her work along the way.

Dan dos Santos and New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs talk about their 16-year-collaboration bringing the shape-shifting character Mercy Thompson to life for readers. This is the longest article in Vol 1; it features fascinating insights into Dan’s and Patty’s creative processes and includes numerous roughs and references along with the finished paintings.

Kristine Poole conducts an energetic interview with her fellow sculptor Forest Rogers, easily one of the most exciting fantastic artists working today—and, of course, a number of Forest’s stunning sculptures are featured. As an added treat, we were able to convince internationally renowned calligrapher Rick Cusick to come out of retirement to create the title.

Greg Manchess’ “10 Things…” series here on Muddy Colors is a Master Class on becoming a better artist: they need to be gathered into a book all on their own! But until they are, we thought it would be great to reintroduce them to readers (along with some beautiful art, of course). As with Lauren’s essay, students and newbies will benefit from Greg’s tips and observations.

With Spectrum we’ve always made a point to remember the people in our art family who died recently: the annual will have a more comprehensive list (and we’ll eventually do a video companion, too), but we wanted to take a few pages to memorialize 6 masters.

With Lauren, Greg, Dan, and Kristine as contributors we could just as easily call this the Muddy Colors Quarterly: now there’s an idea!

Anyway, Spectrum Fantastic Art Quarterly Vol. 1 will be released (according to the printer) December 20th—yes, this year. Merry Christmas! If you’re interested, here’s where you can order your copy: