Monsters! This new, Karen Beilharz-helmed anthology of comics (with sea monsters by me) is now funding on Pozible. It’s all written and illustrated but we need the pre-orders to get it printed. Rewards include a map by me. (Because it’s been asked, and Pozible isn’t entirely clear on this: if you want to help, but don’t necessarily want a book, you can enter an amount here: Pledge amount). The first comic, “Monster Hunter”, has been posted already.
Deep Dark Fears: Late to this party, but Deep Dark Fears is deliciously evocative and unsettling, and I have ordered the book.
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Went twice, went with incredibly low expectations, had a ball, see it while it’s in cinemas. It’s also got a number of Easter eggs for long-term Austen fans. But I mistook Sam Riley for Kris Marshall and was confused (although not unpleasantly so).
Science! If you like science communication and illustration, the #sciart tweetstorm is currently on.
Two new books:
The first translation in over 100 years of Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff, from Eagle Books (a new imprint of Christmas Press), with illustrations and gold-edged pages and just the right size to fit comfortably in the hand and handbag.
The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the way Home, the last book of Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland books, which I will buy but which I am afraid it will hurt to read because they are so perfect in themselves that I am sure the ending will be like a knife.
Coffee in Oxley: If you are ever in the western suburbs of Brisbane, check out Re/Love Oxley on Blunder Road – a good little cafe with an industrial shed of old and kitschy things, including pyromaniacal sewing machines.
On looking too long at art reference: Seals are really weird and if you look at them too long it is like staring too hard at the word “walk” or “amongst”. They cease to be unique functioning objects and become gaps in the world, free-floating black holes, units of the matter before eternity. They refuse to be what you desire or believe them to be. If you gaze too long into the seal, the seal gazes back into you.
‘A Plot for the Annoying of the King of Spain’ – this whole stream of tweets is delightful:
In love with the fact that in 1585 Francis Walsingham drew up a document titled 'A Plot for the Annoying of the King of Spain'
Style: Peter de Sève on artist’s style, although I believe it applies equally to any creative endeavour: “An artist’s drawing is a catalogue of the shapes that he loves. When I’m drawing something, I’m trying to find the shapes that please me. I believe that’s what makes up what people refer to as a style.”
Lessons learned: One thing I am repeatedly learning this year is how little you can get done in a day, and how much in half an hour.
I had cause to quote Douglas Stewart’s gentle poem “B Flat”, and it remains a favourite: “Sing softly, Muse, the Reverend Henry White Who floats through time as lightly as a feather Yet left one solitary gleam of light Because he was the Selbourne naturalist’s brother…”
I’ve bought my membership for this year’s Readercon in Quincy, Massachusetts!
On Thursday I was the Event Illustrator (with a media pass and everything) for Elizabeth Gilbert’s event for the Brisbane Writers Festival’s year-round program, and it was great fun. Some photos in poor light are in a Facebook album – I’ll put up better photos after BWF has the chance to do so. I’ve been reading Big Magic, one of the more practically mystical works on creativity I’ve read: “Keep in mind that for most of history people just made things, and they didn’t make such a big freaking deal out of it.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
Watching Ep. 4 of Supergirl and was struck by the fact the ONLY conversation between men (which I could remember) was in a flashback interruption where one was sacrificing himself for a child. It was quite subtly done, and I don’t usually track this but one of the jarring notes in Deadpool was how (occasionally awkwardly) it did the exact opposite, so it was on my mind.
It was a weekend for pastiches on Twitter:
27/2/2016: “I must arise and draw now, and sketch a book or three, And several covers lay out, of rough lead pencil made. Three commissions I will lay out, and perhaps a birthday card, And sharpen my paper-cutting blade.
And I shall Get Things Done then, for things happen very slow When I lie abed in the morning tweeting pastiches of Yeats And realising it is of cardinal import to go online and check right now Whether his name rhymes with greets or gates.
I will arise and draw now for always night and day I hear deadlines tapping with increasing intensity at my door. Whether I lie on top of the doona or put the pillows over my head, I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
28/2/2016: “Yes I want to draw a picture, Or take my bike up to the store, But instead I have to spend the day driving around to buy a Macbook cord!”
The Archibald Prize travelling exhibition is on at the extremely beautiful Tweed Regional Gallery. Angela Slatter and I drove down this week and I recommend it. Of course, the gallery and in particular the Margaret Olley wing are always worth a visit (the views are like paintings).
Content warning: Snakes.
So the giant carpet snake under our house moved into the neighbour’s tree above their dog kennel, and a couple of times when our neighbour went out at night to empty the bins he felt a light tap against the back of his head. And it turned out it was the snake checking him out.
Whether you’re drawing or describing backgrounds or just want to see how it’s done: Tips for Drawing Backgrounds. As usual, I maintain most illustration advice can be translated for written description and storytelling. Dunnett, for example, uses incredibly painterly light effects in her prose. Tobacco-brown light and single tips of gold light. Rembrandt.
Walking home the other evening I saw a plane, invisible in the dusk save for its lights, fly across the moon, casting the shadow of wings onto a lower cloud.
If you like labelling things: Bat-Labels, a curated and categorised list of labels from Batman
A letter from Dorothy Sayers (hand-copied, not the original) to a former lover, who told her he never wanted to marry, then married another:
I am currently reading c1970 crime: Westlake’s “The Hot Rock” (1970s New York) and Lahlum’s “The Human Flies” (2010, but set in 1968 Oslo). And let me tell you, there is nothing like a vintage crime novel to make you appreciate your mobile phone.
I spent the weekend (at fairly short notice) in Sydney for a family function, but also caught up with several good friends to talk about podcasts, art, Dorothy Dunnett, comics, freelancing, illustration and stories. It was extremely pleasant, and also I got to hold a real live pet rabbit (it looks just like a rabbit!).
As you may be able to see above, the pineapple and raven fabrics arrived from Spoonflower and turned out beautifully – the watercolours on the pineapples printed particularly well. One of my cousins also ordered the pineapple skirt from Redbubble and it is very cute! (Since it’s white knit, you’ll probably wantto wear tights or something under it, as is true for all white skirts).
Congratulations to all the Ditmar nominees! I’m particularly thrilled to have a story nominated this year – “A Hedge of Yellow Roses” from Ticonderoga Publications’ anthology Hear Me Roar, but since I have interests in so many publications (whether as illustrator, fan or friend) mostly it’s just fun to see some of the many great works of 2015 celebrated.
Want to buy (relatively) affordable original art by established and rising stars of illustration? Check out Every Day Original!
The opera(!) of Shaun Tan and John Marsden’s remarkable picture book The Rabbits is coming to Brisbane next month!
I have finally (thanks to Kate Eltham) started listening to the podcast You Must Remember This, which is indeed epic and fascinating.
I want to learn to animate just so I can make book trailers like this gorgeous Isabella Mazzanti Carmilla:
A reminder of the long-ago, beautiful happening that was picturebookreport.com – you may recognise some of the names involved! This was where I fell in love with Kali Ciesemier’s vision of Garth Nix’s Sabriel and with Sam Bosma’s art for The Hobbit, and one of the earliest examples that really had an impact on me, of people Not Sitting On Their Hands But Putting Things Out In The World (quote more or less from Karen Beilharz’s original Plan to Take over the World, which was another example at roughly the same time). Putting Things Out In The World is a very important artistic practice!
I learned a lot at the time from Sam Bosma’s posts on the process of illustrating The Hobbit – just this week I went back to find his description of working with colour flats to explain them to another artist. But whether you love The Hobbit, beautiful finished artwork, process posts or lots and lots of sketches of goblins, that series of posts remain worth a look.
“I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.” EB White
“I have always felt charged with the safekeeping of all unexpected items of worldly or unworldly enchantment as though I might be held personally responsible if even a small one were to be lost.” EB White
Back on deck soon. Meanwhile, I found the subtitles to my second favourite movie. Here is an extract (contiguous, from one scene). It’s accurate – the movie is just about as rational as this once you get sound and pictures:
Don’t nobody do nothing! – This is unheard of.
Throw down the case and the gun.
Don’t shoot me, I’m part Italian.
Don’t kick those rocks, you Philistine!
Don’t you dare strike that brave, unbalanced woman!
Grab his legs!
Give me that.
– Having fun? – I can’t find my rocks!
– Grab the cases. – Which ones?
All of them!
How many cases are there?
– I believe there’re four of them. – I’ve got three.
Wait a minute.
Stick them in here.
– How are your legs? – My legs?
Grant Watson is editing a science fiction fanzine, 100% of the proceeds from which will go directly to the Victorian Red Cross Bushfire Appeal. He is asking for old materials (articles, short stories, artwork). Hewill be editing it this Wednesday (11 Feb). See his post for details: Victorian bushfire relief fanzine.
‘Mama’s little darlin’ loves‘…: A short story from Martin Livings which has changed the way I think about presents (from his series of Tuesday short stories).
And not disturbing at all (in a negative way – in a positive way it has ruffled my equilibrium delightfully) but relevant because the title of this post is from one of his books:
A new Shaun Tan book is coming out! Tales from Outer Suburbia! If the scattered pictures I have seen are from it, it promises to be beautiful in a way only a book in which a waterbuffalo giving directions captures perfectly a certain suburban serenity can be. And I was right – I did see his name in the Horton credits. He was involved “at an early stage” so I won’t hold the movie against him.