Spectrum 24: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, John Fleskes, ed. (Flesk 978-1-933865-99-7, $45.00, 304pp, hc) November 2017. Cover by Iain McCaig & Emily Chen.
Spectrum 24 is remarkable in its consistent excellence in production values, design, and selection of art, all the more impressive when you consider that the roster of judges changes with each annual, as does the art submitted for consideration.
John Fleskes’s masterful editing and passion guarantees a smashing publication each year. He has focused on increased diversity of both artist and subject, producing an international survey of work that represents what’s happening now in contemporary fantastic art. Fleskes and staff’s respect and enthusiasm for this work is obvious in every page of this volume.
With 300+ contributors, Spectrum 24 abounds with familiar and new names from around the globe. In general, the artwork is well presented in what has come to be standard Spectrum format, at most three images per page and superb color reproduction. The art is presented at good size – often full page – on glossy paper. Without feeling cramped, the book crams art in every nook and cranny, from endpapers to dust jacket flaps.
This year’s judges for Spectrum 24 were Laurie Lee Brom, John Picacio, Mark Newman, and Victo Ngai. Among the other familiar names in the annual are Anita Kunz, Shaun Tan, Donato Giancola, Julie Bell, Stephan Martiniere, Todd Lockwood, Yuko Shimizu, Michael Whelan, Brom, Petar Meseldzija, Travis A. Louie, Dave Seeley, Gregory Manchess, Kei Acedera, James Gurney, Stephanie Law, Omar Rayyan, Stephen Hickman, John Jude Palencar, Julie Dillon, Scott M. Fischer, Richard Hescox, Justin Gerard, Tom Kidd, Paul Bonner, Jon Foster, Ed Binkley, Forest Rogers, David Palumbo, Frank Cho, George Pratt, and Dan Dos Santos.
Spectrum award winners, each featured individually with a full-page presentation of her or his artwork, included Jeffrey Alan Love, Galen Dara, Bill Carman, Tim O’Brien, Bayard Wu, Greg Ruth, Karla Ortiz, Dave McKean, Brom, Iain McCaig, Jeremy Wilson, Ed Binkley, Sean Andrew Murray, Jesse Thompson, Akihito, and Edward Kinsella III. The Spectrum Rising Star award went to Alessandra Pisano.
This year’s annual also included a Grand Master appreciation of Bill Sienkiewicz, The Year in Review by editor John Fleskes, coverage of the Spectrum 24 Awards, the Spectrum awards redesign by J. Anthony Kosar, and an index that includes contact info for each artist.
As in so many years over its 24-year history, Spectrum 24 is the best fantastic art annual on the market, the gold standard.
This review and more like it in the February issue of Locus.