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[GUEST POST] THE LOTERIA MATCH GAME (1 of 6) by John Picacio

John Picacio is a World Fantasy and Hugo Award-winning illustrator who is currently reimagining Loteria, the classic Mexican game of chance. His first Loteria artworks are now available as a set of large-format, special-edition cards from Lone Boy.

Welcome to the first installment of The Loteria Match Game, sponsored by SF Signal. I’m your host, John Picacio.

How many of you know the game of Loteria (AKA Mexican Bingo)? If you know how traditional Bingo works, then you know how to play Loteria, even if you never have. Bingo uses combinations of letters and numbers to play, while Loteria’s agony and ecstasy is all about the shuffle of a 54-card picture deck. Players have a ‘tabla’ or placard featuring a random selection of picture icons, and the game-caller shuffles the cards and announces an icon (or creates a rhyme suggesting it, if they’re fancy). The first player to have a line of called icons across, down or diagonal on their tabla – wins!

Loteria is a deeply popular national pastime in Mexico, and within Mexican-American communities. The game is an intrinsic part of my culture, and I’ve played it since I was a child. The classic cards are produced by Don Clemente / Pasatiempos Gallo, and those are the pictures you see celebrated here.

I’m currently producing my own imaginings of these classics with the Loteria Grande Card series, and I’m proud to announce here that these artworks will be featured in my first book as a writer/illustrator, after almost twenty years as a full-time cover artist of science fiction, fantasy and horror clients. The full deck of fifty-four is a work in progress and labor of love, but the first eleven of my artworks are available right now as a limited-run, special-edition collectible card set, while supplies last.
The Loteria Match Game is merely a fun invention (it’s not the narrative that I’m writing and it’s not the way you play Loteria), but it demonstrates how much possibility these icons have. Over the next few days, I’ll continue matching fifty-four sf/f authors, artists and creative luminaries with icons of the classic Loteria.

¡Andale! Let’s get started!

[Click to embiggen]

1. El Gallo (The Rooster)

Mexican lore celebrates the rooster as a symbol of bravery and confidence. She boldly goes, herding artists and writers toward success every day as Creative Director of Tor Books and Associate Publisher of

2. El Diablito (The Devil)

You fall in love with his characters. He breaks your heart and drinks your tears. You curse his name and yet you’re still hopelessly addicted to his books.

3. La Dama (The Lady)

Her summer 2015 creator-owned title, Monstress, is “a story about women, young and old, picking up the pieces after surviving the horrors of war…an epic adventure of frontiers and empires, and the rise of a young woman warrior, whose power may either doom or redeem the planet.”

4. El Catrin (The Gentleman)

He’s one of the grandmasters of science fiction and fantasy literature, and he’s still building his legend with his latest novel, The Whispering Swarm. Gentlemen open doors for others, and no modern creator has opened more than him as an author and editor, inspiring a multiverse of mythic talents, including Brian Aldiss, J.G. Ballard, Samuel Delany, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, China Mieville and countless more. And if that wasn’t enough — there’s this photo of Moorcock, snapped when he was in his early 20’s.

5. El Paraguas (The Umbrella)

Looking for umbrellas that do more than just keep the rain away? Check out Soulless, featuring Alexis — a spinster of preternatural abilities who also happens to be adept in the art of parasol combat.

6. La Sirena (The Mermaid)

His painting for Kathleen Bryan’s The Golden Rose won the prestigious Hamilton King Award in 2008, presented annually by the Society of Illustrators for “Best Illustration of the Year”. Want to paint realistic fish people? Bring real fish into your studio. That’s the Giancola Way.

7. La Escalera (The Ladder)

You know an author is talented when his friends introduce him as “the writer that we hate because he’s so good.” The Washington Post on City of Stairs: “A delightful urban fantasy that travels through a city full of Escher-like staircases and alternate realities….”

8. La Botella (The Bottle)

“As Good As New” gives you three wishes and the end of the world. What more could you ask for? (Art by Yuko Shimizu)

9. El Barril (The Barrel)

His best-selling novels captivate readerships around the globe. Fans flock to hear him on the convention circuit. His much anticipated novel Half The World will rock bestseller lists in the coming days. All of this pales in comparison to the author’s most glorious contribution to humanity: “This is WHISKY DEATHMATCH. There can be only one etc. etc. To the arena! The arena that is my face,” wherein he bravely sacrificed himself to twelve towering single malts, with Ardbeg Corryvreckan rising from the peat as victor.

TOMORROW!! Find out who belongs to La Muerte, and which Bandolon-playing author has one of the best falsettos in the biz!

About John Picacio (6 Articles)
John Picacio is a two-time Hugo Award-winning illustrator of science fiction, fantasy and horror. He is the owner and founder of Lone Boy. His artwork has illustrated the covers of books and works by Michael Moorcock, George R. R. Martin, James Tiptree, Jr., Sheri Tepper, Brenda Cooper, Dan Simmons, Mark Chadbourn, and more. His accolades also include the World Fantasy Award, the Locus Award and seven Chesley Awards. He is currently illustrating more cover and storytelling art for worldwide clients as well as more Loteria card art.

8 Comments on [GUEST POST] THE LOTERIA MATCH GAME (1 of 6) by John Picacio

  1. Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) // February 16, 2015 at 12:30 pm //

    Wow, I love this, John. I look forward to the other assignments and attributions!

  2. John Picacio // February 16, 2015 at 1:58 pm //

    Thanks, Paul! 🙂

  3. excellent!

  4. John Picacio // February 16, 2015 at 6:07 pm //

    ‘Appreciated, Mair! 🙂

  5. What a great idea, John. I can always get behind an idea that promotes art and literature together, for to me they are inextricably linked. Wonderful to see which creators and creations come to mind when you look at these classic loteria images. Happy to know that we have more on the way.

  6. John Picacio // February 17, 2015 at 8:20 am //

    Thanks, Carl! Part 2 goes live at 12noon CST today, including El Valiente, El Bandolon, La Muerte, and more. 🙂

    • John Picacio // February 18, 2015 at 1:38 pm //

      Gracias, Sabrina! Glad you swung by! Part 3 went live today. We’ll end on Saturday with the sixth and final post. 🙂

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