Sketch7

I am back, I am dealing with jet lag which I never adequately believed in before, the sketchbook is scanned and I will begin posting it shortly.

However, to begin with, many congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the World Fantasy Award, and of course particular to Vincent Chong, winner of the Artist category with his sepia-soaked, textured worlds, and to my fellow nominees Didier Graffet and Dave Senior, with their clean effective design, J.K. Potter‘s dark collections and Chris Roberts‘ bright nightmares.

Melisande, or Long and Short Daleks

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for E. Nesbit’s short fairytale of wishes and mathematics, “Melisande, or Long and Short Division”, which is available at several locations online (here’s one) but is best read with all her other wonderful tales of princesses and lift operators, kings and treacly sea-serpents, plagues of yellow houses and bell-people, and towns in libraries (in towns in libraries).

In other news: Oh look! A new Dalek drawing and more to come! Also, I’m taking part in a fairytale art exhibition in Brisbane in August, and the organisers are fundraising on Pozible, should you wish to obtain an art print or other rewards (and support the Make a Wish foundation).

I planted Daleks

This instalment of the Dalek Game is really for the Lifeline Bookfest, where I bought Richard St. Barbe Baker‘s autobiography, I Planted Trees. Several years ago. And haven’t read it yet.

I am certain it will be compelling and life-altering because most books I buy at the Lifeline Bookfest are (my criteria: pretty spine, not my genre, never heard of it and/or don’t read that subject; don’t even bother trying to fight for the Pratchett books, there is blood in the aisles there).

I am not allowed to go to the Bookfest again until I buy more bookcases and have more time to read things not-for-illustration. So you should all go. It’s amazing. Enormous exhibition halls full of old, beautiful, mouldering, dog-eared, out-of-print, rare, too-common, dusty, inscribed books. Money raised goes to support services including a crisis line and post-disaster support.

The next Brisbane Bookfest is from 19 to 28 January at the Convention Centre. Take a cut lunch and a backpack.

LIfeline Bookfest

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!

A Dalek in Her Hand

And I’m back! Not with a World Fantasy Award – that was deservedly won by the very stylish John Coulthart, and contended by the enchanting Julie Dillon, the jaw-dropping Jon Foster and the darkly luminous John Picacio (whom I met!).

But I have returned with a sketchbook and Daleks!

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Bess Streeter Aldrich’s A Lantern in Her Hand. I remember very little of this book, except that my mother read it out loud to my family, and by the end of the opening we were all in tears.

In other news: Midnight and Moonshine (with my cover) has been successfully launched! And you can get a copy signed by the authors until 8 December 2012.

American Daleks

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Neil Gaiman’s remarkable novel American Gods, a road-trip, murder-mystery, missing-identity, conspiracy, hustling, stranger-comes-to-a-small-town, Götterdämmerung of a fantasy. For me, it’s a pair with Diana Wynne Jones’ Eight Days of Luke – the grown-up, explicit, visceral, wry, partially-unrecommendable-in-certain-circles elder sibling of a novel with many of the same themes (as Stardust pairs with Howl’s Moving Castle). And in my head it is more than one book and world, as fits a cross-country novel in such a broad country – cold isolation of an ex-con walking by train tracks, hot southern funeral parlours, sweat and loss of hotel rooms, the baroque horror of a carousel…

In other news: A month and a half until I go to America! A little freaked out. Reminding myself that all I need is a passport, credit card and the will to eat my way across a continent.

Little Daleks

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, a book containing one of those scenes which sear themselves into my memory – the death of the bird when the girls are allowed to do as they please on their holidays and forget to take care of it. It was scarring and awful scene, because it was such an obvious, inevitable, unexpected, Lord of the Flies thing to happen. To many readers the book seems to be a hoops-and-bonnets fantasy. But while it taught me to do my chores (as What Katy Did taught me to give explanations for rules), and while I like Little Women much more than Lord of the Flies, and can forgive it a great deal for the collapsing bed and “Rodrigo! Save me!”, I cannot quite consider the novel without that memory, or consider the March girls aside from that momentous, careless cruelty.

An element of gritty reality underlies the charm (the teasing, the burned hair, the lost love). It is absent from (best-beloved) near-contemporary What Katy Did (1872 to Little Women’s 1868-9), for all its squabbles and games, and from the Little House Books (published in the 1930s recollecting the 1870s) where consequences come from outside forces and the best intentions of human effort seem to dissipate in locusts, blizzards, sickness and fire. Absent too from Anne of Green Gables’ cringing embarrassments (1908), and from Seven Little Australians (1894) which contains larger tragedies but which (in spite of laundering) most helpless animals survive. 

This, too, is the reason that I did not care for the latest Pride and Prejudice movie as Pride and Prejudice. P&P is about veneers, manners, appearances and trying to live and love through and in spite of them (oh, that one beautiful sentence about Lizzie and her aunt not talking as they leave Pemberley). The movie showed mud and pigs and sweat and pores, and the fantasy of muslin and carriages and plumes suspended above all that. And I still think, as I said when the first promotional pictures came out, that for Pride and Prejudice it is a very good Little Women! (And for the record: best Lizzie = Jennifer Ehle (that smile!), best Darcy = Laurence Olivier (spoiled boy), best Mrs Bennett = Alex Kingston (darling), best Mr Collins = Nitin Ganatra (no life without wife)).

In other news: Giveaway! Rowena Cory Daniells interviewed me on art and writing, and there is a chance to get a Dalek drawing of your very own.