Karen Haber Reviews Four Art Books

Dracopedia Field Guide, William O’Connor (Impact 978-1-4403-5384-0, $26.99, 159pp, hc) May 2019. Cover by William O’Connor.

Over the course of William O’Connor’s 20-plus-year career, he won many industry awards, was nominated for a Chesley, and created over 3,000 illustrations for gaming and publishing businesses including Wizards of the Coast, Impact Books, Blizzard Entertainment, WhiteWolf/CCP, Lucas Films, and Activision. He also devoted his time to writing and illustrating the best-selling Dra­copedia book series (Dracopedia, Dracopedia: The Bestiary, Dracopedia Legends, etc.) In these books, O’Connor shared his considerable knowledge and artistic chops about drawing and painting dragons with his eager readers, many of whom were fledgling artists.

Unfortunately, O’Connor died before he could complete what became the final book of the series, The Dracopedia Field Guide. His wife, Samantha O’Connor, and friends including Tom Kidd, Scott Fischer, Dan dos Santos, Donato Giancola, and Christine Myshka, helped finish it. The Dracopedia Field Guide is a beautiful, encyclopedic reference work to the uses, varieties, and peculiarities of scaly, fire-breathing, fantastic imaginary creatures. This last volume has excel­lent production details, full color, clean, effective design, black and white as well as color art, on thick, satiny paper, and provides both tales of the dragons as well as instruction on how to sketch and paint them, with detailed discussions of the differ­ences between, say, a North American Wyvern and a British Spitfire Dragonette. It’s a lovely book and memorial to a talented, generous artist.

The Necronomnomnom, Mike Slater; Thomas Roache, ed. (The Countryman Press 978-1-68268-438-2, $24.95, 208pp, hc) October 2019.

Of all the tie-in books one might imagine for the work of H.P. Lovecraft, a functional cookbook is not in the top five… or even ten choices that I would have imagined. Slime and Lovecraft, yes. Dangers of ocean swimming and Lovecraft, sure. But food and Lovecraft? A real nonstarter for me. The Necronomnomnom: Recipes and Rites from the Lore of H.P. Lovecraft by Mike Slater, edited by Thomas Roache, has proven me wrong.

Slater & Roache have created an affectionate, hilarious homage by way of recipes to all things Lovecraftian. The Foreword and Forewarnings lets you know what you’re in for right away: “We neither accept nor reject any mortal food religion,” the author writes. “The Necronomnomnom serves the will of the Great Old Ones – and they shall consume all.”

A lot of delightful design details have been lavished upon this book: an embossed board cover with gold foiled, high gloss paper, with loving, sepia-toned illustrations, and graphic detailing framing each page. Are there runes, you ask? Yes, of course there are runes.

Among the more memorable recipes: “Nog-Sothoth (serves as the Gate and the Key for 7 mortal beings of fortitude),” “Shogghoulash (serves 4, under strict hypnotic control),” and “The Side Dish Not To Be Named.” And don’t miss the Vegemitey Cthulu with its fried egg pop-eyes. I dare not men­tion the desserts and children’s dishes. In the interest of full transparency: I have not attempted to cook any of these recipes. Caveat Archimagirus!

Zintara and the Stones of Alu Cemah, Michel & Dominic Bohbot (Bookbaby 978-1-54395-455-5, $35.00, 216pp, tp) January 2019. Cover by Michel & Dominic Bohbot.

Fans of fantasy tales of strong women set in ex­otic, semi-medieval worlds will welcome the lively adventures of Zintara, a strong, courageous young woman in search of her family’s secrets, in Zintara and the Stones of Alu Cemah,

A very handsome illustrated book by brothers Mi­chel & Dominic Bohbot, the full color illustrations and page details give this large format paperback a lot of impact, although higher gloss paper would have really made these illustrations and details sing. The book’s perfect binding makes it look and feel, externally, like a graphic novel, but don’t be fooled – this is an illustrated novel. A board cover with a bit of embossing and foil might have added to the book’s appeal. The index to characters and map are excellent ideas, very helpful to readers. The brothers Bohbot are currently working on a sequel.

Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy, Amy Rat­cliffe (Chronicle 978-1-4521-6631-5, $29.95, 231pp, hc) October 2018. Cover by Jen Bartel.

Large and lovely, Star Wars: Women of The Gal­axy celebrates girl power across the many iterations of the Star Wars franchise. It casts a spotlight on the courageous female players in the genre-shifting saga that upended the notion of girls in science fiction needing to be rescued.

18 female or non-binary artists contributed full-color portraits of Leia Organa, Rey, Padmé Amidala, Ahsoka Tano, and 72 others, including a droid, an Ewok princess, and Mama the Hutt. Varied mediums and approaches, from heavily stylized to realistic and beyond, make for an intriguing mix.

Author/editor and Star Wars maven Amy Ratcliff offers commentary and insights into each character. An index of artists in the back offers capsule bios and page numbers for each artist’s work. The artists include Alice X. Zhang, Amy Beth Christenson, Annie Stoll, Annie Wu, Christina Chung, Cryssy Cheung, Eli Baumgartner, Elsa Charretier, Geneva Bowers, Jen Bartel, Jennifer Aberin Johnson, Jenny Parks, Karen Hallion, Little Corvus, Sara Alfageeh, Sara Kipin, Sarah Wilkinson, and Viv Tanner.

This hardcover book with dust jacket, printed on thick satiny paper, is a pleasure to page through. Each portrait is featured in alphabetical order in a full-page spread. Several characters – Leia, Padmé. and Rey – receive the royal treatment with several different portraits. This is one of the classiest, most appealing tie-in volumes I’ve seen from the Star Wars universe. Kudos to Chronicle Books.

This review and more like it in the February 2020 issue of Locus.

Locus Magazine, Science Fiction FantasyWhile you are here, please take a moment to support Locus with a one-time or recurring donation. We rely on reader donations to keep the magazine and site going, and would like to keep the site paywall free, but WE NEED YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT to continue quality coverage of the science fiction and fantasy field.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *