June 2011


The Reluctant Dalek

This is the latest installment in the Dalek Game and is for Georgette Heyer’s magnificently improbable The Reluctant Widow.

In an attempt at self-diagnosis, I have on occasion tried to branch out from Heyer into other “Regency Romances” and I – just can’t. I almost did myself an injury on one occasion, hitting my head against the window while reading a Cartland on the train: the cover was fabulous (I’m pretty sure I kept it for that reason), but there was a paragraph break at. the. end. of. every. sentence. (This isn’t a criticism of romance novels generally, it’s just that I don’t read for romance and few of the novels had what I liked about Heyer). So I’ve worked out that it is neither the romance nor the regency that I like about Heyer. And in Heyer, it isn’t about either romance (although it’s always there) or regency (despite the detail). It’s about wildly improbable adventures that gather momentum and inevitability, thrillingly unlikely insupportable situations, pistols at dawn, carriage races, kidnappings, assumed identities, French spies, murder, awful people, vain people, charming people, *human* people, and Fun. In many of the romances I’ve read, the action is a mechanism to serve the romance – in Heyer, it’s the other way round.

I regard Heyer’s regency novels as one side of the coin that has C. S. Forester’s Hornblower novels on the other – there are strong similarities between the two. But she shares with Lois McMaster Bujold the thundering inevitability of the situations characters get themselves into, and with Diana Wynne Jones the marvelously all-in chaotic denouements.

All of which fits rather well with Doctor Who, and means this wasn’t a complete digression.

Illustration Friday: Midsummer Night

Pen and ink (and a scan of an old page). This was a warm-up sketch for a night of work on another project, which should go live soon (I am surprised to have become a person who says things like that). After drawing this, I realised that it was the 25th anniversary of Labyrinth and I should have done a Labyrinth / Midsummer Night’s Dream mash-up. Or very warmly dressed Shakespearean fairies, since it’s midwinter here.

Life among the Daleks

This is for Paul de Kruif’s Life Among the Doctors.

When I was young, after I had an altercation with my father over whether we should go for a 75th reading of Little Red Riding Hood, my family started reading out loud after dinner (morning tea, lunch…). We did this every night until I left for boarding school in year 11. One of the memorably unexpected books was Paul de Kruif’s The Microbe Hunters. I ought to read it again – all I remember was that it was fascinating. So when I saw Life Among the Doctors at the Lifeline Booksale, I brought it home and – oh, it’s wonderful. It is largely a history of the often maverick trailblazers of public health in America in the first half of the 20th century, and it’s sad and astonishing and hilarious. If you can track down a copy, it will be worth it.

This is the fifteenth installment in the Dalek Game.

The Six Daleks of Henry VIII

This is the fourteenth installment in the Dalek Game and is for Alison Weir’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII, which has been on my bookcase for a very long time, and which I keep overlooking in favour of histories of early Australian aviation, but is meant to be very good.

Also, if you want to remember the order of the fates of Henry’s wives, it’s “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived”, but I can never recall the order of their names.

It’s because of Flanders & Swann that I remember Greenfleeves (funny name for a fong) is attributed to Henry (“We are Henry the Eighth, we are”).

Illustration Friday: Launch

Sepia pen, ink and wash, with flat colour added on the computer. Thanks to my mother and older sister for striking poses on the weekend, when I was working out what to draw, and these are not portraits by any means! I have also been asked to delete the photographs…

In other news, our group comic anthology on the theme of depression, Kinds of Blue, is fully funded and will be printed before very long! If you would like to order a copy in advance (and we’d love it if you did!), you can do so (and see more information and the whole anthology) from here: http://www.pozible.com.au/index.php/archive/index/1092/description/0/0

My Dalek likes to hide in boxes

This one is for (now Dame!) Lynley Dodd’s picture book, My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes. Lynley Dodd is best known for her Hairy Maclary books, but My Cat… was her first, and is just wonderful, and very true. “The cat from Norway got stuck in the doorway, but my cat likes to hide in boxes”. Everyone knows Norwegian cats are very wide. This is the thirteenth instalment in the Dalek Game.

In other news, when I posted Wednesday’s Dalek I mentioned our Pozible campaign to print and launch our comics anthology, Kinds of Blue. Three days later, we are more than 100% funded! Thank you everyone! You can still (and please do!) use the Pozible page to pre-order a copy, and you can read the whole anthology here at hivemindedness.com/kindsofblue. I did the artwork for “Knitting Therapy” and “Nihilo“.

Illustration Friday: Swept

Pen and ink fairytale illustration with colour and texture added digitally. Influenced by a book of vintage illustrations and my teacups. This does not happen when I sweep. But I would sweep more often if it did, or if I had that overdress. My birthday is in May so there is plenty of time if someone wants to make me one.

In other news: Some friends have made a book of comics! It is an anthology called Kinds of Blue, and it is on the theme of depression, and I did the art for two. We are looking for help to launch and print it – you can find out more information and see the comics from here: Kinds of Blue

Edited to add: Oh, and look-look-look! I completely missed the publication announcement, but I did this cover for Geoffrey Ryman’s The Child Garden (from the marvellous Small Beer Press).

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