10 December 2016

[SF] The OryCon 33 Souvenir Program Design: Horror Has a Jape

With OryCon 33, in 2011, the dark theme continued, script flipped to the side: the them was The Lighter Side of Horror. With Author GoH E. E. Knight, author of Vampire Earth, that premise was delivered on. The other side of the look'n'feel coin was, of course, and as always, the art.

Jim Pavelec brought his dark and disturbing vision to OryCon's Art Show and Souvenir Program and it cast a spell to good effect. I still can't look at the images for very long without feeling more than a little out-of-synch and wanting to see things in reality that aren't there … or are there, but shouldn't be.

If that cover illo don't make you kind of illo, I'll check you for a pulse, kiddo.

That's Jim's dark design. From his Artist's Statement at http://www.jimpavelec.com/artists-statement/:
I built up a body of work, at first consisting mainly of twisted figures that I simply called demons. I needed to call them something familiar as a jumping off point for the viewer. I wanted them to be iconic; modern day visions of godlike beings that existed in my imagination.  I pushed myself to incorporate jagged structures and impossible atmospheres which these demons would call home, thus fleshing out the world that had been in the recesses of my mind since my youth.
Most people and artists recognize their dark sides and incorporate them into their outlook and art. Jim saw his dark side at an early age and decided that when he grew up, he'd build a summer home there. He lets it drive him. This is the sort of art that, as Chekhov is said to have said, "break the ice within one, as a brick" (I paraphrase).

Disturbing? Yeah, you bet. Difficult to view? Definitely. Valuable? Totally, after taking a further look through his Artist's Statement, which dwells a moment on Jung's thesis that humans needed symbol and ritual, to arrive at an iconoclasmic statement of its own:
Through the work I am doing now I mean to create new symbols for others to cherish. I hope that people will take what I have given them and use them, as the word says, symbolically. In other words, use them as a spring board for independent thought. Use them as a marker for their frustrations with the status quo. Use them to strip the meaning and power from the old symbols.
Interpret that as one wills, but I see the idea of looking in as a way of looking back out and re-evaluating what one is certain of. The reassignment of symbol and creation of new as needed.


Now, like I said, this was the 'lighter' side of horror, and there was more than a little whimsy there. The work Zombei Atack, which I used as the back cover, is a great example of that:

It takes a zombie schoolgirl to really drive home how demons and grotesqueries can be funny and memorable.

The rest of the publication took the by-now-usual path. I drew unification by extending the type into the heads and subheads:

… and at this point I must point out that, despite my endless bagging on Papyrus, there are times that it works. The problem with such fonts isn't that they are used, it's that they are overused, thoughtlessly. Not every publication is going to be that important, so one may see my p.o.v. as rather overweening. Still, a second's thought can turn a document that is forgettable because the designer went with a fad or fashion or just accepted the default (a designer worth the term never accepts the default) into one that has a voice of basic good taste and a modicum of thoughtfulness. Type carries weight both visual and emotional; think of someone who formats a serious warning sign in that perennial villain, Comic Sans. Are you thinking of the warning, or are you thinking what kind of mind would joke around with a font like that?

But in this case, Papyrus, though overused it be, also struck the right note and, like The Dude's rug, tied the thing together.

Also, I'd like to point out one other thing. If you're likely (or hopefully-to-someday) to be invited to a convention, have at least one good promo portrait. E.E. Knight's was properly authorly and friendly, and Jim Pavelec's was well, well, done, I thought. The pose in front of the pagoda? Well composed and full of visual interest and intrigue.

Really, it would take you no time at all. If you think you might ever be a GoH at a convention, do this thing.

This would prove to be the last time I would do a OryCon program set. I can't remember what prompted me to let go, but I guess that I had figured that I had brought all I could to the form; not only that, after hoping only to do one, I'd managed to do not one, two, or three, but four consecutively. Not too bad, I thought.

I had a good experience and had delivered a labor of love for a thing I adored times four. I didn't think I'd ever be in the position to do this again.

Life, as they say, had other plans. 

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