The Rathbones – seaweed and whales

This is Janice Clark’s novel The Rathbones – a dim, salt-spangled, miniature epic of a tangled whaling family – Gormenghast and the Odyssey and Poe, dreamlike with sudden tiny landscapes of painterly clarity, shrouded mysteries, decadence and deprivation, real cruelty and torturous bloodlines.

Rathbones - art by Janice Clark

Cover art by Janice Clark

The cover and the chapter headers are by the author. However, I was originally asked to do the cover, and we went as far as thumbnails sketches and concept work before the publisher decided to change direction (all amicable and professional!).

My art was to be cut-paper, and as I hadn’t done much in a nautical theme before, I spent some of my holidays practicing whales and ropes at my sister’s dining table, and drawing seaweed in my notebook. Here is a selection from the test pieces:

Concept paper cuts

Test patches by me

The art director was Emily Mahon, and you can see some of her lovely cover work here: I am a particular fan of the modern library series, and can’t pick just one.


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