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Clyde Caldwell
conducted by Toni Weisskopf
 
October 2005

Clyde Caldwell first came to my attention with some wonderfully detailed dragons done for TSR. For Baen, one of his earliest paintings was the cover for Holly Lisle's fantasy Minerva Wakes, unusually featuring a heroine in glasses, which won my heart. More recently, Clyde has illustrated Jack Chalker's Well of Souls series for Baen. Some of my favorite covers of his includeAgainst the Tideby John Ringo andCally's Warby Ringo and Julie Cochrane. And check out the striking cover for Wm. Mark Simmons' Habeas Corpses, a November 2005 release.

Clyde got his launch in illustration in amateur sf magazines, fanzines. "I started working in fanzines back in the early '70s, when I was in graduate school working on my masters of fine arts. I realized I'd rather be an illustrator than a 'Fine Artist.' After earning my degree, I worked a few years doing advertising illustration, but still doing fanzine work with an eye on breaking into sf/fantasy professionally. My first pro work was done for Unearth Magazine, a small SF anthology published out of Boston. Unearth only lasted 8 issues, but it started my professional career in SF, and I've never looked back."

Clyde cites SF artists Frank Frazetta and Roy G. Krenkel as "huge early influences, as were the writings of Edgar Rice Burroughs. I was also a big fan of comic artists like Wally Wood, Jack Davis and Will Elder.

"My best friend in the 7th grade, David Walker, introduced me to SF. I was a big comic book fan at the time, but had never read any SF. David gave me a copy of Poul Anderson's The High Crusade, and I was hooked. After that, I was reading every SF book I could lay my hands on."

Dinosaurs were another early passion. "I'd love to go back to prehistoric times and check out some live dinosaurs. My grandmother used to take me to the library when I was a kid, and I'd always check out books on dinosaurs."

As for non-SF books, Clyde reports "I don't have a lot of leisure reading time these days, but when I do, I'm a sucker for James Patterson. I've read all of his Alex Cross novels. The last non-SF book I read was Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen, which I enjoyed."

Clyde wonders when I ask him about his favorite perks of being an SF illustrator, "There are perks? I've been doing this for almost 30 years and no one told me there are perks? Actually I really enjoy the freedom, both in working for myself and being able to set my own schedule, and in letting my imagination run wild. It's just more fun than working on dry, advertising subject matter. Plus I get to read some great books before most people ever see them."

No artist likes to have to pick among his oeuvre, but Clyde does admit, "Of course I like some more than others. 'Elsbeth the Enchantress' and 'The Sea Fox' are a couple of favorites. 'Quest for the Well of Souls', 'Against the Tide' and 'Cally's War' are recent Baen favorites."

When asked what technological innovation he would like most to see, Clyde gets practical. "With gas prices going up the way they are now, a new, cheap, (clean) alternative energy source would be nice. Or...a cure for male pattern baldness!"

Over the past ten plus years I've been attending SF conventions and running the Baen Travelling Slide Show (with door prizes) in which I get to show off some of our wonderful cover art. I get this question a lot when I do my slide shows and exhibit Clyde Caldwell paintings: where does he find his models? "Over the years, I've met several models at conventions, and one at a Renaissance Faire. I'm more likely to use professional models from an agency these days. I work with 2 models on a regular basis, Christine Klingbiel and Doug Bates, who have appeared in many of my Baen cover paintings."

For more information please go to: www.clydecaldwell.com

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