Eclipse Online Illustrations – February 2013

Susan Palwick illustration

The first story for February was Susan Palwick‘s troubling, traumatic “Sanctuary” – a story I expected to have a major personal reaction against and ended up being deeply struck and impressed by. One of those stories for which praise and recommendation are not always in direct relationship to each other. Certainly a story for reactions. The picture above was one of the first ideas I had for it, followed by the little sketches below, riffing on one of the lighter moments in the story.

Susan Palwick illustration

I still like those little drunk angels, but Jonathan Strahan suggested we take a darker tack, in keeping with the overall tone of the story. He was perfectly correct – this is what art direction is for! – and illustrators as well as writers sometimes have to kill their darlings.

So we went darker – and to a different style, pencil-based rather than the pen-and-ink I had done for the Eclipse illustrations to date. The final illustration is at the top right, one of the darker pieces I’ve done and much more appropriate for the story.

Susan Palwick illustrations

Some of the perks of illustrating include getting to read awesome stories in advance of publication (then being superior and secretive in company), getting to draw from the works of authors who always seemed unapproachable luminaries, and discovering new heroes. Then there is the additional excitement on days when you open the email attachment, and find the by-line is by a friend. I was very excited to see the next story was Peter M Ball‘s “On the Arrival of the Paddle-Steamer on the Docks of V-“  – a story of the cruel beauty of farewell, the tawdry mundanity of loss, the heartlessness of love. Peter writes the most disturbing fairytales (and is an excellent writer, hosts Trashy Tuesday Movies, is running for AWM’s GenreCon Australia – those are just the highlights, and also, although he’s usually quite conscientious about warning me off books and movies which might scar me, he was responsible for Space Train).

I was working on some roughs for an ongoing scratchboard project, and did this little goat-headed guy from Peter’s story for practice (the picture is very tiny in real life):



The actual illustration, however, was completed at the same time as the first round of Palwick pictures, in pen and ink with digital colour. The final is on the right, and I like the hot colour of the anonymous, eponymous city (although I still have a fondness for the two travellers on the left).

Peter M Ball illustration

5 thoughts on “Eclipse Online Illustrations – February 2013

  1. “Sanctuary” is a powerful story and I appreciate your pointing us to it. While there are elements of it I too was not exactly inclined to like, it is a very inventive and challenging vision of a post-Rapture world. (As I am not a “pre-trib” believer, I may see it differently than some; I would wonder how a Tim LaHaye-type would react to “Sanctuary.)

    You and your art director made a good team, because I think the final selection for that story REALLY fit very well – though I may never see “fallen angels” in quite the same light again!

      • Ha! I definitely understand that. I have not found anyone to whom I’d recommend that story yet. If I do I will let you know their reaction.

        • In some of my circles, a lot of my book recommendations go like this: “Soooo, I loved this book, and while I recommend it unreservedly in some circles I cannot directly recommend it to you for (triggering/moral/ethical) Reasons. However, should you accidentally happen to read it, I would like to discuss it with you.”

          Possibly for the same reasons some movie outings start with a whispered, “Um, how do you feel about Quentin Tarantino?”

          • That’s pretty good. I think that format of book recommendation gives one “plausible deniability”! :-)

            But it really is a challenge to make book recommendations to people who MIGHT like them and yet could also find the topic/subject/storyline offensive.

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