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Palencar, John Jude

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1957-    ) American artist. After receiving a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design, he received further training at the Illustrators Workshop in Paris before embarking upon a highly successful career of painting book covers. He is noted for an intense, almost photographic realism with bold colours, though his figures are sometimes juxtaposed with more abstract backgrounds. Primarily working in the fields of Fantasy and Horror, he has painted covers for some high-profile books, like Christopher Paolini's popular Eragon novels and Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel novels, yet he has painted sf covers as well; one standout example was his painting showing a tiny figure against pale ruins for a 1986 republication of David Brin's The Postman (1985), vaguely similar but vastly superior to Tom Hallman's cover for the hardcover edition. He has also worked outside the genre for magazines like National Geographic, Smithsonian, and Time.

The power and diversity of Palencar's work can be conveyed by describing his five award-winning covers: for Valerie J Freireich's Becoming Human (1995), he painted a naked man crouching on a pedestal holding a mask; for Tanya Huff's Blood Debt (1996), he juxtaposed a reclining corpse with a screaming head and demonic spirits rising from the body; for the anonymously edited Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (anth 1998), he crafted the image of entombed alien corpses accompanied by skulls; for Louise Marley's The Terrorists of Irustan (1999), he offered an understated portrait of a woman heavily wrapped in robes; and for Charles de Lint's Forest of the Heart (2000), he painted a naked man stunningly growing out of a barren tree. The first two of these covers earned Spectrum Gold Awards, while the others won Chesley Awards. Later, Palencar earned a fourth Chesley for general artistic achievement in 2007, and the Spectrum Grandmaster Award in 2008. [GW]

John Jude Palencar

born Fairview Park, Ohio: 26 February 1957



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