Multiple award-winning artist John Picacio recently completed work on Del Rey's new edition of Elric: The Stealer of Souls, volume 1 of the Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melnibone. Picacio not only created the spectacular cover but many interior pieces, creating a truly unique book. This isn't the first time Picacio has animated Moorcock's work with his art--he also did the thirtieth-anniversary edition of Behold the Man awhile back. For Picacio, "[It] really feels like things coming full-circle because not only am I working with Mike again, but this time it's for one of the most iconic fantasy characters ever."
Picacio found Moorcock as easy to work with as the man's reputation suggests. When Picacio unveiled his "battleplan" for the Elric book, he met with Moorcock "to break it down with him [and] he just kept smiling and giving me the nod. A kind word here, a kind word there, but he...gave me virtually free rein. When I had questions, he was always quick to clarify, but never told me what to do. He's not only one of the great authors in the history of fantasy, but he's one of the great gentlemen."
Since Elric is an iconic character, I asked Picacio if he ever worried about trying to match the vision of the many readers who already have an idea in their heads of what Elric must look like. "Early on, a good friend pulled me aside and said, 'No matter what you do on Elric, you know a lot of people are gonna hate it, right?' Oddly enough, that really took the pressure off of me. I felt like, 'Hey, I might as well do my thing because there's no way to please everyone, so let's just go for it.'...[Besides,] Mike expects you to bring the absolute most potent and personal vision you can offer to the audience at the given moment."
Looking over this beautiful new edition, I'd say Picacio has accomplished what he set out to do. The art is vibrant, fluid, and complements the text perfectly--as the examples below attest. Also check out MonkeyBrain Books' beautiful Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio. And for more examples of art from Elric and a very cool contest, visit Revolution SF.