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Speaking of John Jude Palencar's Artwork

March 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm

It turns out that on Wednesday, the same day the Palencar Project was unveiled, I found a package on my doorstep when I arrived home.

I'd been expecting the package.  But I definitely wasn't expecting what I found inside.

I'd been in touch with a really cool bookseller who was very keen to get signed copies of Bitter Seeds.  (Hi, Steve!)  But he also arranged to have several copies signed by none other than Mr. Palencar himself, since it's his artwork that graces the cover.

So the books first went to JJP, then from him to me.  (And, okay, squeeing fanboy moment here: how cool is it that I got to scrawl my signature right alongside that of John Jude Palencar?  Extremely.  Yes.  The answer is, "Extremely.")   

The books were all there, as expected.  But one copy had a post-it stuck to the cover.  It read, "For Ian, from JJP."

And this is what I found when I opened it:

Bitter Seeds signed and with a SKETCH by John Jude Palencar

Not just signed, but signed WITH ARTWORK.

Clearly, Steve the bookseller told him of my great admiration for his work.  What a pair of gentlemen!  Thank you Steve and John for a wonderful surprise.  (And what is now the most prized book of my collection.)


Steve Halter March 2, 2012 at 11:11 pm
Well that is indeed ultra cool. What a nice bonus surprise.
Alex Brown March 2, 2012 at 11:14 pm
Not only is that incredibly cool, but that artwork is just screaming to be turned into a tattoo. I might have to push back that Totoro/Batman one I've been planning on and put this one ahead in the queue...
Brit Mandelo March 2, 2012 at 11:33 pm
That made me smile. What a lovely surprise!
Ian March 3, 2012 at 8:55 am
I've been very, very lucky. This is definitely a very wild and unexpected surprise. Tattoo, eh? That would never have occurred to me.
Tengland March 3, 2012 at 8:25 pm
After reading your previous post about Palencar's art and this one, I am impressed by your at least public acceptance of the situation. It's the difference between you and me, I expect. I say those guys have no business writing stories based on that art because that's not what it was meant for. Were they told what the origin of the art was, why it was excess? Did anyone at Tor think they ought send the art back to Palencar if there weren't going to use it? Was he asked if he was OK with the anthology thing? Did they think so poorly of his art they just left it lying around? They seem to have a loose view of copyright. Sorry to be such a drudge, Ian, but this whole thing has an off odor to it. That painting is awesome. It and the artist deserve better than they got. So do you.
Ian March 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm
Hey, Terry! Thanks for stopping by. Well, Tor commissioned the artwork (and paid for it), so they really do have every right to find a use for it. Just because the original intended use of the artwork changed doesn't mean they can't still use it. They essentially had a complete, unused John Jude Palencar painting literally sitting around the office. They would have been crazy not to use it. And I'm *always* happy to see more exposure for JJP's artwork. My only confusion in this, the latest chapter in the interesting pre-publication life of The Coldest War, is the apparent reluctance to mention the connection to a forthcoming Tor novel. I'd hoped the Palencar Project might be a chance to cross-promote multiple Tor projects at once. I know that other people at Tor politely asked for a mention of The Coldest War, but...
Tengland March 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm
You're obviously more OK with this than I am.And maybe Palencar is too. So be it. I will continue to think you and the artist were insulted by Tor. Tor's embarrassed, too, though, that's why they're reluctant to mention the painting's connection to your series.
Ian March 5, 2012 at 9:29 am
I actually think this is a really nice thing for JJP. Otherwise, he'd have done all that work with no publishing project to go along with it. His artwork doesn't need a companion project to make it noteworthy, of course, but it's nice that since he was commissioned for this painting it eventually found a special use. It may be that there's concern the full story of the painting, and the fact it wasn't used for the original intended purpose, might give people the wrong impression about the value and quality of the work. It's difficult for me to imagine fans of JJP's art really reacting that way, but what do I know. Anyway, I prefer to believe this than to believe that a dead-simple cross-promotion opportunity would be considered not worth the effort.
Steve Halter March 7, 2012 at 8:40 am
The Gene Wolfe interpretation story is up on Tor. It was quite a nice story. I'm finding the project quite fascinating. So far, the interpretations have been very different from how I would view the picture; I have the original back-story and it colors my perception of the picture. This has made for an interesting experiment in comparative perceptions. So, in that respect it is quite successful. It does continue to be odd that they don't mention the Milkweed books as the original intent. That seems like an obvious promotional link. Maybe they are going for some "unsullied by original intent" artistic statement. If so, we've already let the cat out of the bag in the comments. The thought just occurred to me that it would be interesting if we really knew the original intent behind a lot of paintings. For example, what if we knew for certain that Da Vinci's intent had been to portray a noted murderess in the Mona Lisa.
Ian March 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm
I had a feeling the Gene Wolfe story would be boffo! It's really interesting to see how the same image inspires very different tales from different writers. It's a cool experiment. I'm eager to read the Swanwick story, too -- I love his work. I never heard that story about the Mona Lisa! How intriguing...
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