This is my second year participating in Apex Magazine’s annual subscription drive, and this year I’m thrilled to host Apex Editor Lesley Conner, who is going to gush, er, talk about some of her favorite Apex covers. Cover art is one of my favorite things about speculative fiction books and magazines, and if you aren’t familiar with Apex Magazine, I guarantee after you read this post that you will want to subscribe just so you can gaze at the fantastic artwork! So please help me welcome Lesley to the blog!
By the Cover
by Lesley Conner
They say you shouldn’t judge a book (or in this case, a magazine) by its cover, but sometimes … I mean, just every once in while … don’t you really want to?
I’m the managing editor of Apex Magazine, and one of my tasks in that role is finding cover art for each issue. Today I want to share some of that art with you. If you judge the quality of Apex Magazine based on these covers … well, I’m okay with that.
These are some amazing covers!
First, let’s look at the cover for our most recent issue, issue 90, November 2016.
By the wonderful Ania Tomicka, this piece is called “No Time.” The layered look of the different portions is very interesting to me. I love how soft and innocent the girl appears. The paper lady with her talon like fingers covering the girl’s mouth is a great juxtaposition. And what’s up those little lurking imps? Overall it is beautiful but threatening at the same time. With a simple color palette and an uncluttered background, it would be very easy to miss all the layers in this piece, which is one of the reasons I think it works so well.
Next let’s take a look at issue 84, May 2016. The artwork is “Unraveling Fire II boy” by Robert Carter.
Can we talk about these colors for a moment? That gorgeous mint green against the flash of oranges and yellows of the flames. The striking blue of those piercing eyes against the pinkish bloodshot red. The pallor of the man’s skin … This is a man who has been through some shit. It’s eating him. He’s literally burning up from the inside and coming apart at the seams.
Compare that to the cover of issue 88, September 2016.
The grace and beauty of Mélanie Delon’s “Red Poison” steals my breath away every time I look at it. The woman is a warrior. Of that there is no doubt – the way she holds her body, the set of her face, that sword! – but that doesn’t mean she is hardened. Look at the impeccable crisp white color of her dress, the bow tied just so at her waist, the softness of the fabric. This is a woman who will walk into war and cut down her foes, but she does it with style. What broke the man from issue 84’s cover wouldn’t even phase the woman on issue 88.
Next, I’d like us all to take a moment with the cover for issue 87.
Is it me or does the woman featured in Marcela Bolivar’s “Ipocondrie” look as if she has just breathed in her first breath of air. You can almost see her gasp. The relief of breaking free, of being alive! There so much movement in this piece: the falling petals, the woman’s swinging hair, the splash of water in the vase, the storm brewing in the distance. Looking at it gives you a feeling that if you watch long enough, it will come alive and all those moving objects will continue their journey.
Speaking of motion, take a look at the cover of issue 83, April 2016.
“Hurricane Woman” by Sarah Zar is a little different style than most of the covers I choose for Apex Magazine. The speculative element is more subtle, less spectacular unreality and more the hidden storm inside of us all. The woman’s face is impassive. Her clothing nearly matches the background, as if she spends her life trying to blend in, not wanting to call attention to herself. But the moment of the piece is one in which she’s revealing what is inside of her. She pulls apart the fabric of her dress (of herself?) and inside a storm is brewing. One that spills out of her. One that could drown us all. And I’d swear there’s a glint in her eyes as she stares back at the viewer that is daring us to judge her, to judge the fact that she couldn’t hold back the emotions roiling within her any longer.
Okay, one more. I began this post thinking I’d only talk about four pieces, but I just had to squeeze in a couple more.
Issue 86, July 2016. This is a cover that brings together an awe-inspiring color palette with an amazing sense of movement.
There are so many things that I like about “The Fire” by Sunny Ray. The way that portions of the piece are out of focus to bring the viewer’s eyes the focal point. The stance of the boy – he isn’t focused on the viewer, he’s busy, he has things to do, worlds to move. So he stands with his back to us, arm raised, magic seeming to move through him. The color of the fire popping in the background against the rich blues and purples of the sky. All of these come together to form an image that portrays untamed power. The boy looks so young and the fire is raging before him. As a viewer, you have to wonder if he can hold it back. Or is he trying to? Is he a savior or a destroyer? And no matter what his intention, the viewer is left wondering if he is capable of pulling it off.
I’m in the process of lining up artwork for 2017 right now. So far we have pieces by Aaron Nakahara, Adrian Borda, and Caroline Jamhour selected. I’m not going to ruin the surprise by showing you those pieces now, but I can assure you they are just as stellar as those from 2016. Head over to the artists’ DeviantArt pages and see if you can guess which artwork I selected for Apex Magazine.
If you haven’t been able to tell from my uncontrollable gushing about the cover art for Apex Magazine, I truly love the artwork we use. We have been fortunate enough to be able to work with some incredibly talented artists from around the world. From October 24th to November 15th we are running a subscription drive to help us expand Apex Magazine – becoming better and growing as a publication is very important to both the editor-in-chief Jason Sizemore and myself. Our goal for the drive is to raise $10,000 in additional funds through new subscriptions, sales of individual issues of Apex Magazine, and tips thrown into our tip jar. If we reach our goal, one of the things we’re planning to do is to raise the rate which we pay our cover artists. To help us do this, and to find out more about our subscription drive and the amazing double issue we’re planning for January 2017 as a thank you to all of our readers and supporters, please read our announcement.
Thank you Lesley! These are all truly gorgeous covers. And there are lots more! If you love speculative fiction, finding new authors to love, and yes, gazing at incredible artwork, then you might be interesting in helping Apex reach their subscription drive goals. Simply click here to learn more. Happy reading!
LESLEY CONNER is a writer/editor, managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, and a Girl Scout leader. When she isn’t handling her editorial or Girl Scout leader responsibilities, she’s researching fascinating historical figures, rare demons, and new ways to dispose of bodies, interweaving the three into strange and horrifying tales. Her short fiction can be found in Mountain Dead, Dark Tales of Terror, A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, as well as other places. Her first novel The Weight of Chains was published by Sinister Grin Press in September, 2015. Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1 marks her debut experience in anthology editing. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and is currently working on a new novel. To find out all her secrets, you can follow her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.