Forgotten Book: Harry O. Morris by Harry O. Morris (2015)

Harry O. Morris

By Scott A. Cupp

This is the 169th in my series of Forgotten Books.

Years ago I first encountered the force of nature that is Harry O. Morris in the pages of the long gone and deeply missed fanzine Nyctalops. I received an issue for my birthday and it was filled with more information and visual stimulation than you should legally be allowed to have. The issue I got was devoted to the work of Clark Ashton Smith, though Lovecraft was the fanzine’s primary focus.

Then I saw some of his art at the World Fantasy Convention in Ft. Worth in 1978. It was so wildly different from everything else on exhibit there that, broke person which I was, I ended up buying two photo collages for my personal collection. I know that I still have one of them and maybe the second too.

I later met Harry in person at ArmadilloCon and he was every bit as weird and cool as you could expect. Eventually he married my friend Christine Pasanen and they were a lovely match. I visited them once in Albuquerque and it was great!

Recently, Jerad Walters, the madman behind Centipede Press, published this amazing artbook/biography of Harry. Filled with literally hundreds of photos of artwork from fanzines and book covers. And the introduction from Thomas Ligotti, a writer I first encountered through Harry’s work, is worth the price of admission alone.

One of Morris' book covers

I’m not going to talk much about the book. It is extraordinary and out of print from the publisher, though a few copies are still floating around out there in Webland. It’s a little expensive (not really) because it is filled with lots of heavy paper and color pictures. I’m going to post a photo of Harry and some of his work. This does not really begin to give you an idea of its brilliance. He works with pens, ink, colors, collage, photo emulsions and maybe magic.

If you are looking for the perfect present for that weird friend (who may even be yourself), give them this book. Offer a double or nothing deal if they don’t like it. You won’t have to pay up.

Happy Holidays to everyone out there. And remember, if it ain’t weird, you’re not trying hard enough.

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.


Speculative San Antonio: Artist Alfredo Lopez Jr.

Freddy Lopez has been a ubiquitous presence at San Antonio conventions, film festivals and comic shops.

Today marks the launch of a new feature on my blog, Speculative San Antonio, in which I highlight a South Texas creator of science fiction, fantasy or horror literature, film or art.

My first real interaction with artist Alfredo ”Freddy” Lopez Jr. came more than a year ago when he illustrated the front cover of my novel Deadly Passage and that of Dog Days, the Joe McKinney novel it was published back-to-back with.

Freddy turned the covers around fast, working closely with myself, Joe and our publisher to accommodate a myriad of suggestions. He was an enthusiastic, patient collaborator and one I’d work with again in a heartbeat. The covers still gets numerous compliments.

Based on that experience, it comes as no surprise that Freddy has emerged as a go-to talent for comic cover art, concept, game and sketch card work. He’s collaborated with some of the top names in comics as a colorist, and he recently launched a Patreon page to free himself to pursue more work outside of comics.

Freddy’s work is recognizable for its vibrant, painterly use of color and for its clever humor. He’s a fan of mash-ups, frequently juxtaposing characters from different comic and movie franchises.

A Freddy Lopez illustration for an RPG rulebook.

I see from your Patreon page you’re trying to make the shift from the comic genre to do more fantasy, horror and concept art. What’s prompting that and what do you mean when you say “concept art?”

Freddy: Yeah it’s a shift that I’ve been talking about for a while but finally putting into action. When I was younger, my goal was to be a fantasy artist along the lines of Boris, Elmore, Bernie Wrightson, Frazetta, the Brothers Hildebrandt, etc. I dreamt of being a book illustrator like other kids dreamt of being athletes. I promised myself when I grew up, I’d be the next Frazetta. Of course, like every kid, I also grew up on superheros. So along with my drawings of knights and dragons, I had drawings of Batman and Superman.

As i grew older, I met more friends with similar goals. At the risk of sounding old, the internet was evolving as I was entering the scene and gave me a new way to get in contact with creative people all over. Forums and online portfolio sites helped get my work out and eventually, as friends broke into the business, they were kind enough to contact me and ask if I’d like to help. So that’s what got me into comic work. Friends like Nate Piekos, Chris Mills, Howard Wong and others really helped open doors for me. My first love was still illustration work, though, and I found what I enjoyed most was doing illustration style comic work like covers, pinups, coloring and painting. I soon discovered trading card work, which helps satisfy that aspect for me. Now I’ve had the chance to work for some of my fave companies and properties like Upper Deck, Walking Dead and Marvel Comics , where I’ve been part of the team of artists doing cards for Ant-Man, Avengers Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy and others.

Freddy Lopez's "Goblin Party."

Over time, I’ve also been getting back into more traditional illustration projects by doing work for books and games. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a couple of amazingly talented local authors doing covers for them. I’ve also been getting more work in RPG games and event posters.

The concept art is tied to the RPG projects in fantasy and sci-fi. Aside from cover and spot illustrations, I’ve had the chance to work with some great art directors on concept pieces. The general difference is that while illustrations are final pieces that are used in print, concept is usually higher level work used to get the basic ideas or concepts of a project down. It helps establish color palettes, mood and tone or the design of characters, creatures, ships and environments.

Part of this move to illustration has also included doing more prints for convention signings and appearances. I’ve built up a porfolio of convention poster/exclusives for a wide range of celebrity guests and appearances that have included Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface), Ricou Browning (Creature from the Black Lagoon), Michael Rooker and both Boba Fetts, Jeremy Bulloch and Daniel Logan. Most recently I did the signing for Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy’s Drax) for a new comic store, Alamo City Comics. I even did the poster for the upcoming Horrific Film Fest, which includes celebs such as Elvira, the cast from The Warriors and Buck Rogers.

Freddy Lopez's "Guardians on the Run"

The Patreon page is a new concept for me but sounded like a fun way to reach out to fans and reward backers with behind-the-scenes items (tutorials and source files) as well as helping me to stay on track as I make the transition.

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Remembering artist Jeffrey Catherine Jones

I’ve been busy lately, so forgive me for being a little late with this.

On May 19, 2011, the fantasy painter and illustrator Jeffrey Catherine Jones died, leaving the world a poorer place. Jones brought an etherial approach and fine-art techniques to book covers and comics, prompting Frank Frazetta to call her “the greatest living painter.”

Jones’ work graced numerous book and magazine covers in the ’70s and ’80s, including those by fantasy luminaries Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber. Indeed, it was her space-suited alien riding the back of a sea monster that convinced me to buy my first Leiber book (The Swords of Lankhmar) — and for that I’m forever grateful.

If you’re looking for more information on Jones’ fascinating life and groundbreaking work, take a look at the documentary Better Things: The Life and Choices of Jeffrey Catherine Jones. (This sentence was added later, since the documentary wasn’t available at the time of Jones’ death. — Sanford)