Spectrum: 2: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art (Spectrum (Underwood Books)) Hardcover – 1 Nov 1995
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As of this second annual the Spectrum series hadn't settled into its eventual form. For example, the sculptural works appear among the 2D imagery, instead of having a section of their own. The quality of the artwork, however, the variety of artists and media, the many styles and moods, they all follow first book's groundbreaking vision and lead the many volumes to come.
These annuals are broken up into several categories: the editorial segment, from the advertising field, book covers, from comics, and institutional (which includes statues and busts). The final two pages give a nod to the 1993 Chesley Award winners. Meanwhile, the inaugural Spectrum Grandmaster Award goes to the unbelievably deserving Frank Frazetta. To plenty of illustrators, Frazetta is God and, honestly, any accolade ceded to him is merely giving him his propers.
An always neat thing for me is that, what with my reading so much sci-fi and fantasy literature, I end up recognizing plenty of the artwork on these pages. In this one, off the top of my head, I remember the covers to Simon Green's SHADOWS FALL (cover by Donato), Spider Robinson's THE CALLAHAN TOUCH (cover by James Warhola), and Roger Zelazny & Robert Sheckley's A FARCE TO BE RECKONED WITH (cover by Don Maitz). Except that, here, we get to ogle the full untrimmed original art pieces.
What captured my eye? Donato Giancola's fantastic "Construct of Time" (pg. 57), Steven Assel's realistically rendered "The Light Bearer" (pg. 67), Rick Berry's contemplative "Death" (pg. 82), young stud Luis Royo's "The Neverending Sparkle" (pg. 95), Gregory Manchess's "Morning Angel" (pg. 119), and Carl Lundgren's very cool "Impudence" (on pg. 136). By the way, it's always a treat checking out Lundgren's ever recurring angel motif, and "Impudence" is probably my favorite one, never mind that it's actually featured in the brief Chesley Awards portion of the book, and not in the main SPECTRUM segment. To put a pretty bow on things, Rick Berry lands the cover to the originally published SPECTRUM 2 and his subject happens to be Neil Gaiman's Death, my all-time favorite Sandman character. Meanwhile, the 2006 reprinted edition of SPECTRUM 2 features Steven Assel's "The Light Bearer." I don't exactly know how this happened, but I own both editions.
SPECTRUM has always showcased some of the most imaginative and creative imagery out there, and flipping thru these pages is like gazing at marvelous eye candy after eye candy. SPECTRUM 2 brings it with 237 glossy, full-colored works done up by 137 artists (138, if you count Frazetta - and, by Crom, why wouldn't you count Frazetta?). SPECTRUM is up to sixteen annuals by now, with the earlier editions being very, very hard to come by. Me, I'm lucky enough to have just about all of them in my collection. But you can't really see over my coffee table anymore.
In fact, this is quite a bit better IMO than the first issue. There is more variety in images. Some are bone-chillingly creepy, some are beautiful. A few may make you laugh. The range of art combined with the quality makes this worth getting. Indeed I am finding it a hard to pick out a few favorites because there are so many wonderful works in this collection.
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