Joseph Mugnaini is best known as the illustrator of Ray Bradbury’s books. Their collaborations included Golden Apples of the Sun, the iconic Fahrenheit 451, The October Country, and my personal favorite The Halloween Tree.

There was much more to Joe, too. He created all the artwork for the Academy Award-nominated Icarus Montgolfier Wright and worked on several Disney projects. He authored four books on drawing and illustration and wrote and starred in two films on drawing.

He was a phenomenal drawing and painting teacher at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles and received national acclaim for his teaching techniques. Artists the caliber of Norman Rockwell sought instruction from Joe.

Many of his prints reside in permanent collections at the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. Awards won for his work are too numerous to count.

He did all that, was all that, but here’s the important thing:

Joe Mugnaini inspired me.

He opened art to me, giving me access to the visual world in a way no other artist did.

When I was younger, art was a monolithic, inaccessible mystery to me. I was comfortable with words, but not illustration or painting or visual composition. I could play with words, tumble them across paper, give them marching orders and send them where I wanted them to go. Not so much with art.

It’s not like I hadn’t been exposed to it; my childhood was filled with deep stacks of comic books and a seemingly never-ending reel of Saturday morning cartoons.

Then I discovered Joe’s work illuminating the pages of Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree, and there was understanding.

His work had structure and clear evidence of the tools used to build it. Just as I understood the progression of word to sentence to paragraph to story, I suddenly saw in Joe’s work the same progression of line to shape to form to composition.

It was an essential moment.

And when I later discovered that there was no defining book about Joe’s life and art I realized that I had to write one.

Wilderness of the Mind: The Art of Joseph Mugnani is a 300+ page coffee table-sized art book and biography with a foreword by Ray Bradbury.

My research included dozens of interviews with Ray Bradbury, Joe’s colleagues, and his students. The research took me across the country and even to Japan where I met with collectors of Joe’s work. I also directed preservation efforts for both The Joseph Mugnaini Estate and Ray Bradbury.

No previous book comes close to showing the depth of the collaboration between Joe and Ray Bradbury. There’s stunning concept work, including the very first and never-before published Fahrenheit 451 sketches. Discovered during my research, they were hidden in the estate archives, safely tucked away by Joe’s wife Ruth some 45 years ago.

Considerable effort was made to ensure that the artwork reproductions are as close to the original pieces as possible, with an emphasis on color. The book also presents many 1:1 reproductions of segments of Joe’s larger pieces so the reader can appreciate and closely examine Joe’s mind-blowing line work.

Wilderness of the Mind is due to be published in Summer 2016 by Art of Fiction.

You can check out the teaser website at