This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera, which I have read, and cannot find my copy anywhere to lend to mulders drapery, so if you have it would you please give it back? All this said, the last time I read it was a very long time ago, and my only clear memory is of two heroes trapped in an octagonal room of mirrors? with an iron gallows tree in it, endlessly reflected? and maybe a very bright lamp? It is entirely possible this isn’t even in the book, but it made a keen impression on me.
My favourite adaptation is (but of course) Terry Pratchett’s Maskerade, which is everything it should be, and has all the trimmings, even the gargoyles. Especially the gargoyles.
In other news: I am back from Sydney, where I went for the Aurealis Awards, where I won many accolades for my shawl and wore myself out talking to Absolutely Everyone (photos of some of whom are here, courtesy of Cat Sparks), visiting ferrets, being given Heyer novels, and generally being windswept and interesting. I have no sketches due to talking the entire time. So many congratulations to everybody!
This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is also an excuse to practise drawing donkeys – one day the necessity will arise! I think it is a little better than the last one (for the same play – I am only practising donkey heads). Certainly cuter, and when drawing Daleks that is evidently the prime consideration.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is not my favourite Shakespeare – I have not decided what is. Neither its title nor its stage directions are as wonderful as A Midwinter’s Tale (although I had to wait for J. K. Rowling before I learned how to pronounce Hermione). I am not certain why I resist it – perhaps because it conjures up such a floating, sweet image, although that isn’t what I get when I sit down and read it. Perhaps it is the general connotation it takes in the collective consciousness? A shame, if it is, because parts of it are – or should be – hysterically funny.
My current favourite references/adaptations/reworkings of it are:
- Dead Poet’s Society (directed by Peter Weir and written by Tom Schulman) – for the ethereal tragedy (I get flashbacks to this whenever I watch House).
- Terry Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies – for a very funny, very nasty, very (what? respectful? faithful? something different but equal to that) Discworld take on the story, with all of the beauty that ought to be there and all of the horror and earthy bloodiness which makes the beauty terrifying. Also the stick-and-bucket dance. I commend to you Tansy Rayner Robert’s post on this book: Slash! Stab! A Lesson in Practical Queening.
- Neil Gaiman’s short graphic story “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (drawn by Charles Vess and coloured by Steve Oliff) – for an interleaving of the play with its historical setting and performance, within the story of Sandman: complex, beautiful, complete.
It would be easy, I suspect, to take a wholly unpleasant reading of the play – no doubt it has been done. I appreciate the role of that sort of reading and storytelling, but it usually feels to me more as comment/exercise than a distinct and independent Thing In The World. What I love about the pieces above is that none of them disregard the beauty which is associated with the story in order to rewrite it into nastiness. They are all truly beautiful. But the loveliness which could be merely pretty or at worst cloying is not only offset by the darkness: together they make something very solid and elegant and – without detracting at all from that – funny. All three have scenes which still, in recollection, make me laugh aloud (“this desk set was made to fly”).
I’m reminded of Catherynne M Valente’s story “A Delicate Architecture”, in which sweetness must be offset by the hint of salt and marrow. Which conveniently leads me to…
In other news: To Spin a Darker Stair, a boutique collection of two short stories by Catherynne M Valente and Faith Mudge, and illustrated by me, is on pre-order from Fablecroft Press (more news on the cover when it appears). Also, speaking of English takes on fairy queens (and taking on English fairy queens), I drew some pictures of Janet and Tam Lin for Illustration Friday.
This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Terry Pratchett’s Witches Abroad, a wonderful novel which, although I look back at it as a lighthearted interlude in which Greebo becomes a man is much darker than that. Ever since I read it, my heart break a little when I read “Little Red Riding Hood”. Tansy Rayner Roberts has a lovely series of posts on Pratchett (I do enjoy loving reviews and rereads). This picture is also for Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad, and for Agatha Christie generally, since whenever I hear “abroad” I expect Hercule Poirot to show up, and probably in Egypt.
In other news: I contacted the BBC to find out what would be involved in getting permission to sell prints of the Dalek Game, but they have declined. I will update if anything changes on that front.
This instalment of the Dalek Game is for The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Mike Dringenberg, Sam Kieth and Malcolm Jones III. I don’t recall any grand pianos in it but am willing to be corrected. Teresa Nielsen Hayden did a wonderful reread of the first issue on Tor.com here: Re-reading Sandman: Issue #1, “The Sleep of the Just”.
While I was at work yesterday, the Dalek Game and #dalekbooks seem to have taken on a separate existence. Thank you to those who have posted and commented and followed – I am working back through my inbox!
Prints: Several people have asked about buying prints. I would love to be able to sell them, but want to do the right thing, so I have written to the BBC and Arts Law to find out what that is. If I get a positive answer, I will not stay silent.
And in other news: Kinds of Blue, an anthology of comics by my friends (I did the art for two) has been launched and is available to buy online! The YA steampunk anthology Steampunk! (with my first comic “Finishing School”) is available online and in stores – I will post a bit more about this soon. Friends and I went to see Monstrous Regiment at the Arts Theatre yesterday – their Pratchett play is an annual tradition, and this year’s Sergeant Jackrum is worth the price of entry alone. Today I am staying in and drawing Daleks.
The artscaresyou auctions end tomorrow night (local time). If there is anything you want, take action! (Bidding info here – you don’t have to be a livejournal member).
A list of all items is here . Notable items include a steampunk necklace, original Shaun Tan artwork, an autographed Good Omens, a Pendlerook Mary Shelly doll and some marzipan noses.
There is also my original framed pocket villain paperdoll (currently at $30, and postage included).
The fundraising effort is 90% of the way to its goal – Bid now! Bid often!
Villain, with another paper doll for scale.