December 2012


Illustration Friday: Glow

And I’m back to Illustration Friday (remind me to tell you sometime how important it has been for me). This couple are Jack-be-Nimble and Nancy Etticoat, from their respective nursery rhyme and riddle. I cut them out of black paper to try out a new swivelling blade, after returning from Darren Hanlon‘s Christmas concert with Deb last night. The colour is digital.

In other news (since I’ve been away from Illustration Friday for two months): I have posted about the book cover development for Crandolin, things that are out as ebooks, and my American sketchbook.

Oh, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

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Gwen vs Marilyn

Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear (including my short story “Kindling“) is now available in a Kindle edition from Amazon.

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories (including my comic “Finishing School“) is available as an ebook from a number of places. That should include iTunes, but possibly not in Australia yet.

I have just sent off the art for a new comic, which I hope will become a Real Thing, subject to various approvals. In the meantime, the picture at the top of the page is a personality comparison between my last comic heroine, Gwen, and my new one whose name is not currently used (but is Marilyn). I’ve been trying to loosen up and be a lot sketchier for this comic – “Finishing School” betrays signs of terror and excessive caution – and there are a few panels where I could feel that clicking. I’m not sure you can tell by looking which panels they are, but I can see where I began to let go.

I had to force that – blowing up the original thumbnail sketches, putting clean paper over them on a light box and going straight to inks with a dip pen, instead of doing complete-blue-pencil-and-technical-pen as for “Finishing School”.

Borscht! (rough sketch)
A series of very beautiful things have been arriving in my mailbox, and it is about time to start showing them to you. The first is Anna Tambour’s exceedingly odd, headlong, culinary railway fable Crandolin, from Chômu Press. This rich and perfect cover is by Christopher Conn Askew:

Crandolin-Front-Cover-AskewAnna and I have plans to do something together one day. This was almost it, twice. The first time, time was too tight. The second, the book was ready to publish and the cover was at stake. The book is rather difficult to quantify, and I had read it previously, so agreed to try my hand (knowing the possibility it might not be used – don’t worry, all was fair and above board). I still like my design as an illustration, but Askew has captured the book far better – that shade of red, the twinned images, the feeling of the label of expensive nougat, or a rare olive oil. Mine by contrast is much more, well, Little Golden Book. But here is its history anyway, because I don’t draw donkeys much and hate to waste them.

First are two little stylistic try-outs: the girl with the cake is in scratchboard, the violent lady is pencil, both with digital colour.

WIP - ScratchboardLady MacBeth

I did several sketches, based on some suggestions and inspirations the author and publisher had sent me. I’d still like to do something in this style:

Cover concepts

But this is the direction we went in:

Cover concepts

And here, after exploring the depths of the internet (Russian model ship building websites) for a clue as to the rest of a font glimpsed on a four-letter station sign, and calls with Anna regarding the emotions proper to donkeys, is the cover (with crop marks, etc, as it wasn’t finally finalised).

Cover (unused)

I still like it, as a piece and as a piece of the story. Askew’s, however, is ideal.

But they did let me have an after-the-credit feature. At the back of the book, when you buy it, you will find three cold passengers still crying for borscht.

Daleks at Play

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for An Almanac of Words at Play by Willard R. Espy which I must have acquired somewhere second-hand, perhaps at a Lifeline booksale. It is a collection of light poetry, word games, literary games, amusing letters – charming, esoteric, veering between the heavily educated and the extremely flippant.

I am not a very keen player of board games. I am, rather, fond of parlour games and word play, and this book has a place in my heart for introducing me to several and to the idea of more. We make up games over coffee or while driving (witness the Daleks), add to them, integrate them into dinner parties. The game I remember most from this book, at the moment, is a game of rhyming couplets, where you are given a famous line and have to add to it. Of everything in the book, I probably remember this because of the example:

“I’ll take you home again Kathleen,
That last martini turned you green.”

In other news: I have put up the last instalment of the American Sketchbook. I am in the throes of drawing a comic and designing (other people’s) wedding invitations, but after that more (non-Dalek) posts will arrive. And this beautifully written, beautifully printed book has arrived, and will get a post of its own soon!

General notes: This is Part 2 of my sketchbook – Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here. These are sketches with (mostly) Pitt Artist Pens in a little Moleskine sketchbook. You can see larger versions by clicking on the pictures, which will take you through to their Flickr page.

So then I flew to San Francisco, where Katharine and Matt collected me at the baggage carousel, having recognised me from behind based on my hair in my sketches of myself.

We wandered the streets, ate in Chinatown and the next morning went to Alcatraz, where we made up facts and discussed possible adventures which could take place on the island. Escape from Alcatraz with Evil Clowns?

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The Name of the Dalek

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose (and of course for this BBC video). The Name of the Rose was the first Eco I read, after a very dim memory of a select few scenes of the movie viewed once in class. I fell in love with it, and although I don’t have the clearest memory of its individual parts now, I still have great affection for the sum of the novel, which bore me through several more of Eco’s works to discover the impossible, wrathful, byzantine takedown that is Foucault’s Pendulum. I have even attempted to read The Name of the Rose in German. Well, I have acquired it in German. In truth, the English was translated from Italian and a fair proportion of the words weren’t even in my dictionary, so the experience of reading it in German was (along with Tom Clancy’s Clear and Present Danger, possibly the only time those books have been compared*) comparable to Vizzini’s seamanship :”Move that thing and – that other thing!”.

*Or not. Turns out there are connections.

In other news: Part 2 of the American Sketchbook is up: Illuxcon, New York and Colorado. The table of contents for the upcoming Fablecroft anthology One Small Step has been released, including stories by many wonderful authors and my “Ella and the Flame”. And I finished inking a largeish project last night, so rewarded myself by catching up on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which is just fun (perfect, perfect Lydia).

General notes: This is Part 2 of my sketchbook – Part 1 is here, and Part 3 is here. These are sketches with (mostly) Pitt Artist Pens in a little Moleskine sketchbook. You can see larger versions by clicking on the pictures, which will take you through to their Flickr page.

Here we begin with me hiring a bicycle in Toronto in order to get to the Merrill collection. I did not fall off. From Toronto, Jannie and I drove to Altoona, Pennsylvania for Illuxcon 5, which does not have the most up-to-date website but was jewel of a convention for fantasy illustrators, and a brave new world for me.

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