Illustration Friday: Teacher, and a Frog Prince pattern

Illustration Friday: Teacher

Pencil sketches for “Teacher”, with a touch of digital colour (you should be able to see a larger version by clicking on the picture)). The badger is of course Badger of Wind in the Willows, “learning” the denizens of the Wild Wood. The question mark is for Rudyard Kipling’s six honest serving men.

And here as a bonus is another attempt at a repeating pattern (all digital, but working off this very useful set of analogue instructions). I like the idea of a fairytale print, but there needs to be more going on. This forms too obvious a grid.

Frog Prince

I may develop it further. Here is a pencil and digital sketch for another scene and style:

Frog Prince

Illustration Friday: Hitched

Illustration Friday: Hitched

This is a quick comic treatment of a scene from a fairytale – pen and ink with digital colouring (experimenting further with limited tones). I’d expand the fairytale further, but it taps into so many you can probably invent a satisfactory setting for the scene – that is one of the beauties of the rules of fairytales (and, as Chesterton would have it, the ethics of Elfland). The two sketches at the bottom are of the same character at other stages of her story.

The header for May, below (and, if you are reading this in May, above) is a side-effect of gazing deeply into Pauline Baynes illustrations, for nefarious purposes to be revealed in the fullness of time.

May Header / Illustration Friday: Hitched

In other news: I have paid for my tickets to North America in November! Rough itinerary is: Erie, Toronto, Altoona, maybe-possibly-Washington, Lafayette (Denver? I need to work out where my grandmother lives), San Francisco, so if you lurk along that route or go to World Fantasy or Illuxcon you can jump out and force coffee upon me (consider it a pre-emptive strike, as I am likely to do the same to you). Also I have just finished erasing all the pencil lines from a book cover and 13 internal spot-illustrations, and am avoiding scanning an A3 picture on an A4 scanner. Also I have started, wincingly, a very preliminary read-through of my LAM (Large Amorphous Manuscript). Also there is a baby gecko (its body is less than an inch long) sitting on my desk watching me. Always watching…

The Dalek Service

The Dalek Service

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Alan Garner‘s novel The Owl Service. My feeling about this book are unformed, which suggests I read it first for a class… genre fiction at uni, I suspect. I probably wrote very profound things about Alan Garner’s worldview as it found expression in the text. From this remove, I remember the owl-eyed figure on the cover, the thrill of forgotten things found in attics (always a Famous Five feeling to that) and of course the story of Blodeuwedd, transformed from flowers to woman to owl and never entirely one or the other.

I like that legend, primarily for the flowers and owls. Off the top of my head, however, I can think of few stories based on it. The bird/woman element is there in Ladyhawk, but that is a romance. The main person-to-owl image I have is that of the Goblin King in Labyrinth. On slight provocation, I’d be prepared to argue that there are thematic resonances with The Yellow Wallpaper. But the legend is a beautiful story as well as a terrible one.

It’s been on my mind lately because I am working on a – well, either a long short story or a novelette, depending on what the flensers do to it – which had as its basis another human/bird story, to which I added elements of Blodeuwedd. I have, however, a sneaking suspicion that while I like “Tam Lin” for the characters, I am trying to work Blodeuwedd into something just so I can draw feathers and flowers.

Illustration Friday: Puzzled

This illustration is for the fairytale in which the last task set for the hero is to determine which of three shrouded figures is the princess – the other two being dragons. Along his journey, he had aided a hive of bees. Since the princess liked honey, they hovered about her and so he was able to solve the problem.

I like the idea of this otherwise undescribed princess, familiar of bees and dragons, and that single touch of detail – that she loved honey – which makes her a little more human than so many other princesses (Snow White who… wasn’t good at bartering? Sleeping Beauty who couldn’t spin…) This princess’ sweet tooth is neither a virtue nor a situation – just a detail, and yet a point on which the plot turns. And I wonder how she and the hero would get along once they finally met – he so humble and kind to all living things, she unfazed by dragons and beloved of bees.

Illustration Friday: Puzzled

In other news: A very pleasant evening, this evening. Friends came over and there were candles, writing, chalkboard lettering, roast chestnuts, hot milk with honey and spices and a short remedial course on digitally editing line work which I am sure everyone who is waiting to receive illustrations from me is very glad to hear has taken place.

Rapunzel’s Dalek

Rapunzel's Dalek

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale.

I love retellings and reimaginings, and would have gone a very long way out of my way to read Shannon Hale after she wrote a novel of The Goose Girl, which is one of my favourite fairytales (I am currently trying to straighten out a mangled short-story attempt at combining it with a Natalie Merchant song). Rapunzel’s Revenge was marvellous – a wonderful wild-west fairytale – lively and dangerous and fun, beautifully drawn and useful for getting the most unlikely people interested in comics

I have, best intentions notwithstanding, tried not to like Rapunzel in the past. First, it does not have the brightest hero – when my father first told the story to me, and the prince reached the tower and saw Rapunzel, my father said, “And what do you think he did?”, so I answered, “Went to the hardware store and bought a ladder.”

Second, it is so often held up as an example of the passive heroine (Catherynne M Valente has a strange-lovely version of the princess-waiting-to-be-rescued type in the Orphan Tales), and modern retellings tend to play up the action in consequence (whether with lassos or frying pans). But taking it apart recently (as I do with fairytales from time to time – it’s a fun game, I’ll introduce you sometime) I finally realised that it is much more of a Tam Lin story than anything else, and that Rapunzel has always been one of those characters who Goes Out and Does Something. On foot. In the wilderness. With twins.

Also, it makes an excellent play for staging in a tree house.

In other news: Yesterday I posted a subtly Doctor Who and Firefly flavoured wedding invitation I designed for friends.

Australian SpecFic Snapshot

The Australian SpecFic Snapshot has been happening this week – 5 questions asked of each of… quite a number of Australian speculative fiction writers, editors, fans and illustrators.

The interviews will be archived on ASif! but are being blogged here:

Kathryn Linge interviewed me (thank you Kathryn!) and I got very excitable and showed off a very small panel (but one of my favourite) from the Recent Project: http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/102434.html

2009 Aurealis Awards

The Aurealis Awards were on Saturday – a very classy evening put on by Fantastic Queensland, Ron Serdiuk and Diane Waters. It’s the last to be administered by Fantastic Queensland and possibly the last in Queensland. Very sad – it’s been a beautiful series of events and it’s nice to have everyone come to Queensland!

I left buying my ticket until a week before the awards and then, luckily, left home at 5 for a 6.30 start. It should have been a 20 minute drive, but the Ipswich Motorway was blocked, and then the Story Bridge was completely closed because someone was threatening to jump. Then the traffic in Southbank was terrible, there were accidents on the Captain Cook Bridge and another on the freeway. But I made it on time, and didn’t get locked out, which was all to the good, because I ended up receiving the inaugural Kris Hembury Award for Emerging Writers & Artists! I always thought they warned people who were getting awards, but no-one even checked I was coming – someone told me later that of course they knew I was, and that Fantastic Queensland is “like the CIA”.

I wrote about Kris’ funeral last July.

The award was presented by Kris’ parents Perry and Leith after a very moving speech by Kate Eltham and a slide show of Kris which had most of the audience sniffing. I jumped when they announced me (Tim said that was the highlight of his evening) and had to climb out over a row of of people and give a completely impromptu, somewhat emotional and very sincere thank you, of which I do not remember a word. Such a very great honour, and it was wonderful to see Kris’ parents again and meet more of his family.

The cocktails ran late and there were congratulations in many directions. I caught up with and met many old friends and new, including Madeleine Rosca who gave me a copy of her shortlisted Hollow Fields. I dropped Janet home afterwards, and went in again the next morning for breakfast at the Stamford, morning tea with Karen Miller, Lisa Hannett, Angela Slatter, Peter M Ball and Abigail Nathan, and last hurrah drinks for FQ at the Belgian. Then I was unwell from the heat and the partying and went to church and home and completely forgot I was meant to be out to dinner – I am a bad friend.

The full awards were:

Best Science Fiction Novel
Andrew McGahan, Wonders of a Godless World, Allen & Unwin

Best Science Fiction Short Story
Peter M. Ball, ‘Clockwork, Patchwork and Ravens’, Apex Magazine May 2009

Best Fantasy Novel
Trudi Canavan, Magician’s Apprentice, Orbit

Best Fantasy Short Story – joint winners
Christopher Green, ‘Father’s Kill’, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #24
Ian McHugh, ‘Once a Month, On a Sunday’, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #40, Andromeda Spaceways Publishing Co-operative Ltd

Best Horror Novel
Honey Brown, Red Queen, Penguin Australia

Best Horror Short Story – joint winners
Paul Haines, ‘Wives’, X6, Coeur de Lion Publishing
Paul Haines, ‘Slice of Life – A Spot of Liver’, Slice of Life, The Mayne Press

Best Anthology
Jonathan Strahan (editor), Eclipse 3, Night Shade Books

Best Collection
Greg Egan, Oceanic, Gollancz

Best Illustrated Book/Graphic Novel
Nathan Jurevicius, Scarygirl, Allen & Unwin

Best Young Adult Novel
Scott Westerfeld, Leviathan Trilogy: Book One, Penguin

Best Young Adult Short Story
Cat Sparks, ‘Seventeen’, Masques, CSFG

Best Children’s Novel
Gabrielle Wang, A Ghost in My Suitcase, Puffin Books

Best Children’s Illustrated Work/Picture Book
Pamela Freeman (author), Kim Gamble (illustrator), Victor’s Challenge, Walker Books Australia

Further awards presented at the ceremony:

The Peter McNamara Convenors’ Award for Excellence
Justin Ackroyd (he got warned in advance)

The Kris Hembury Encouragement Award for Emerging Artists
Kathleen Jennings.