July 2011


Wuthering Daleks

Back to the 19th century with this instalment of the Dalek Game (but not to worry, I have more Gaiman, Adams and waiting others in the wings).

I am sure I first read Wuthering Heights when I was about 7, but I may have been a bit older. Not by much though – I was young enough to find it more accessible than Brave New World and actually get to the end, but frankly, it was no Jane Eyre. I read it again for school in year 12, when everyone was silly enough to think it romantic, and again at uni, when I loathed it. It did, however, give us Kate Bush (alone justification for the book) and a very awkwardly funny scene with some dead rabbits.

In other news: You may have seen the Flash Gordon duck drawing. I am not doing a series of those (yet) but it led to some friends and I sitting in a pew waiting for a wedding to begin and making duck jokes, so when one of those friends had a birthday, this was the obvious choice (pen, brush and coloured inks):

A Duck Universally Acknowledged

Also – look look look! The website for Steampunk! is out, and I’m in it! strangeandfascinating.com

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Last night I had house guests and hadn’t drawn my Illustration Friday picture yet. The topic was “Perennial” and I had been thinking of drawing something associated with Casablanca (“the fundamental things apply/as time goes by” etc). I could recount the plot of Casablanca fairly well, but only ever manage to retain a very hazy impression of the actual scenes in the movie. So we invented a game, and called it “You must remember this”. The rules are: everyone chooses (or has chosen for them) a classic movie which, as members of the human race, they ought to know, and then they have to draw the plot WHETHER THEY HAVE SEEN IT OR NOT.

So here are the results (click on the pictures to see them at full size):

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Common Diseases of Daleks

Today’s instalment of the Dalek Game is for the classic reference text Common Diseases of Poultry (and for the more widely known Common Diseases of Livestock). If you don’t know the expression to be “crook as a chook”, you should. It is remarkably descriptive. Sick chickens look extremely unwell.

I was in charge of the household poultry growing up – I had to buy the feed and look after them and book-keep and then my father and I would do a monthly reconciliation and I would be paid for the eggs (not a terribly profitable enterprise). I was even a subscriber to Poultry Breeders Monthly, and raised several generations of mutant bantam/wild things which moved into an abandoned pigpen and roosted in the shed and had to be caught by climbing a ladder in the evening and catching them round the ankles. I was a dab hand with a chook crook (a sort of miniature shepherd’s crook made of fencing wire) and knew how to hypnotise the hens, was witness to a wide variety of tragedies, alarums and excursions and learned to wear welding gloves before moving broody hens.

In other news: Aimee is back in the country! Here is a sketch of a brief extract of our adventures at the airport.

The Graveyard Dalek

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. It is something of an ueber-mashup since The Graveyard Book itself is a Gothic/Jungle Books reworking, and I started writing in “Here he lies where he longs to be” on one of the headstones before I remembered that’s Robert Louis Stevenson’s epitaph, not Rudyard Kipling’s. Rudyard Kipling’s headstone is quite austere but should have said “Good hunting”.

I am very fond of The Graveyard Book. My only complaint would be that it keeps to the Mowgli stories and doesn’t include Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, however Gaiman had already written the short, dark, wonderful “The Price”, which I can pretend is a Rikki-Tikki-Tavi tale.

When we were little, my sister had a tortoise-shell cat (she asked for a “puzzle cat”). It was christened Tootsie (probably for the movie), but proved to be a master snake-stalker and was renamed Rikki by my father, whose nicknames often stuck – see for example, the poddy-calf which started as Caramel and became Woolly-guts, and a vicious little beast. Tootsie/Rikki was only a small cat, so if she found a black snake she would stand on something elevated and stare and call until my father went out with a shotgun, which was all well and good unless the snake was under a corrugated iron roof. That time the echoes frightened her so much she took off to the scrub for three days. When we sold up we had to give her (and my cat, Panther) away because they were country cats. Rikki kept walking home through the bush, and so we gave her to friends several hours away, where I understand she settled down and amused herself beating up small dogs. Panther moved into an abandoned shed, grew very fat on mice and showed no signs of missing me.

(This Dalek goes with a shout-out to Angela Slatter, who has been bullying me about it. Peter M Ball, I’ve also drawn the one you liked and will post it soon. Tansy Rayner Roberts, I’ve drawn yours, I think – it’s a bit more violent than I expected but it was hard finding a title that translated to the theme adequately).

Illustration Friday: Gesture

Pen and ink drawing with colour and texture added digitally. The textures are from old books. The skirt is loosely based on one of mine, but I like this print more!

And look! Natalie has made an embroidery based on one of my drawings! I think it looks amazing.

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

In other news: Illustrations, cover art, stories, tattoo designs and a hooded scarf are all in the works. The scarf may be ready by next winter.

The Dalek in the Rye

This one is for The Catcher in the Rye which I have not yet read (I plead Australian), but feel I ought to. This is part of the Dalek Game.

I like drawing clouds.

I’m not quite so keen on drawing hats and unicorns, but here is a drawing for “The Maltese Unicorn”, drawn for Ellen Datlow’s Supernatural Noir contest. I drew another title as well (which I have not posted because I think I am unhappy with the colours), which gave rise to 1500 words of story idea (also influenced by recent troubles with drains) and several roughed-out comic pages, which gives me two works in progress to submit to an upcoming anthology and makes me feel very virtuous.

 

The Little Dalek

This is for Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, because – well – fantasy, aviation, reconaissance aircraft, disappearances, conspiracy theories… and that’s just the author.

Part of the Dalek Game.

I quite like fantasy-with-machines. It overlaps with Steampunk, but isn’t quite the same thing – it’s more like Miyazaki’s mechanics and Diana Wynne Jones’ fantasy world going through an industrial revolution. And I really like early aviation – I was rather pleased to get to illustrate an aviation story for an upcoming anthology (bonus: in aviation stories I get to draw clouds!).

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