Apr 29, 2010

Zero2Illo: Book Cover Draft2

Thankyou very much to   everyone who commented and gave opinions on the first draft, here and on Zero2Illo. 

Here's the second draft

.I've added some God Rays,  snow at the hoofs, cleaned up the snow, given the Hero a sharp boy's toy, relegated the harp, decided on more dramatic moment by utilising    scary Bad Men, made the hero younger, and magicked up some badly aliased title words, tried to unify the colours, and punched the foreground away from the background.

The horse is still passive, but I'm trying to avoid that rearing horse cliche. But I may not. The heroes face? Not sure, I wanted to make him serene, after all, he is the saviour of the Universe. A serene slayer of bad men?
In the heroes left hand he clasps a famous crown which he won is a riddle game. The crown is pivotal to the plot. The sword in his right hand is not yet his legendary sword.

Comments are very w elcome.

As an aside, sincere apologies I haven't been to many blogs.I'm trying to get around people's blogs and that's what I'm just about to do :))

By the way, the images get bigger if you click on them :)

Apr 26, 2010

"The Odyssey Of Captain Limphook."

Well, you know, when things are crappy in our lives, I like to remember the story of Captain "Big Bad" Limphook, who, for eighteen years during the late 1700's, was the Seven Seas most deadly pirate.

Badder than Bluebeard, more rascally then Rottenbreath Mackenzie, and a bigger fibber than "Tall Tales" Long John Silver, Captain "Big Bad" Limphook died from an unfortunate accident in 1797 while shaving in rough seas somewhere south of Tasmania.

He was so famous for being really, really bad that, on the day of his death Lord Byron Macintosh OBE, wrote an ode to him. It was, I believe, called "The Ode To Captain Big Bad Limphook."

Unfortunately it had a few ribald lines, and as there are children present, I cannot present it in it's entirety. In fact, I can only give you the title (which, as you see, I already have.)

I do have, however, some pictures of Captain Limphook himself - with his best mate, Brian the cabin boy. (Brian was a champion boxer from an early age - luckily.)

Thankyou for looking, and be careful of getting sand in your ears if you click for big.

(Thanks for the suggestion on the closeups Justin Segal  Check out Justin's work. He rocks,)

Apr 24, 2010

Hansel and Gretel

"The True Story of Hansel and Gretel".

"The girl came into the kitchen carrying more timber for the oven fire. "

The girl stumbled on the straw. She dropped the wood.
The wood rolled across the floor and banged against the base of the oven.
"Stupid brat!" the witch said and kicked the whimpering girl in the leg.
That made the boy in the cage jump up and down. Then the raven pecked his hand.
The boy squealed. He let go the cage. He sank back and cowered into the shadows.
The witch cackled. She cackled and cackled.
And cackled once more.
She liked cackling. It terrified the brats.
They deserved to be terrified.
They'd been destroying her house.
The boy had broken off part of the eaves over the front door.
The girl had smashed one of the window panes.
They weren't innocent children. They were vandals.
And now the boy was almost fat enough.
What did he call himself.... Handsome? Hensall?
Something ethnic.
She should find out. She liked to know their names.
She cackled again, and, with great delight, held up her scythe
and rubbed her hand along the edge, feeling the lumps made
by the old, dried blood.
The children, watching her, began to whimper.


Huh? Well, where did this come from?

A few weeks ago I picked up an old book of Mother Goose Fairy Tales that had once belonged to my grandmother. I was looking for inspiration.

And the thing that struck me as I read the book,  more than anything else (apart from the fact that most nursery rhymes had more verses than I remembered), was how sweet and innocent this book was, especially the illustrations. Yet it was obvious that the stories this book contained were made in an age of violence, that they were crafted, not only to entertain children, but to warn them of the real dangers of the outside world.

Oddly enough, I'd always called the stories in this book fairy tales.
But they were, in fact, 'folk tales'- made by generations of people who lived off the land.
A quick glance through the book reminded me of several things. It reminded me that in "Red Riding Hood", Grandma is eaten by the wolf; that, in the "Girl with Red Dancing Shoes", the woodsman solves her problem (she is unable to stop dancing) by cutting of her feet. And in the pre-Disney version of "Snow White, Rose Red" the stepmother tries to kill Snow White three times - yet is eventually herself put to death by Snow White's new and avenging husband, the prince.

And, finally, we have "The Tale of Hansell and Gretel". As you probably know (or once knew), Hansell and his sister are abandonned, not once, but twice by their father and their stepmother in the deep dark woods. The first time Hansell cunningly leaves a trail of stones to follow back home. But the second time his deceit is foiled, because the birds eat the bread crumbs he has laid as a trail.

Though they are painted as innocent victims, Hansell and Gretal are, in fact, vandals. There are no two ways about it. Not only do they drive their young stepmother to an early grave, but, when they find the old lady's Ginger Bread house in the woods, they start to break off parts and eat them.

Now, I don't know about you, but if someone did that to my house I'd be upset, to say the least.

So the old witch, quite rightly, detains them. And who can blame her if she tries to fatten them up so she can eat them? After all, it's a witch eat child world in our fairy tale books.

And the end result?

Seizing her chance, Grettel pushes the witch into the oven fire and slams the door on her. She watches as the old lady burns to death. Satisfied that the witch is roasting (imagine the smell of burnt hair and old lady underpants) Gretel releases Hansell, and with no sign at all of post-traumatic stress, they return to their father's house - and find that their evil stepmother is dead..... and they all live happily after all.
Now.... I ask you. Happily ever after?

So with those old original folk tales in mind, today I illustrated part of: "The True Story of Hansell and Gretel".

An do you know what the worst thing is?
Though I made her myself, the witch scares the be-creepers out of me. (I'm going to lock my bedroom door tonight.)

By the way, if you click the images for 'big' you will get, amongst other things, warts. You may also get a slightly revolting skin rash that can only be cured with an ointment made with a certain kind of fat.

Illustration Friday: Ahead ("The Head of Medusa")

"The God of Traffic Lights".

Well, I've always been fascinated by Medusa.

But why?  Why Medusa Gorgoneion?

Is it because I am a male, and the strange, alluring, dangerous female has an attraction fatale for my sex? Sirens, spiders and Medusai. Death; war; shipwrecks; blood.

Art Galleries; rushing off to see the Post Modern Modernists Expressionist Paintings' room, I often fly past ancient images of a fellow named 'Perseus' carrying some ugly head or another. Turns out that, if I'd ever stopped and taken a quick breath, I would have long ago discovered that the bloody head on the silver plate was, in fact, Medusa's. (You can see the line now, in your grade three French textbook, Arrêtez-vous, Finnie! La Tete de Medusa et sur la pleit argenté .)

Medusa of course, as every primary school boy knows, had two sisters. And the whole family had hair of entertwined snakes -venemous naturally. And each sister could turn a man to stone just by looking at him in the eye. What a family, eh?  Imagine the wild parties they must have thrown.

Not to mention the excitement of hair washing day.

Sadly for Medusa, only her two sisters, Stheno and Euryale, were immortal.

So, after wreaking a little havoc all around ancient Greece circa 490 BC (ever notice the Greeks have thousands of life like statues in odd positions?) poor old snake-haired Medusa was slain by Perseus, who, from memory, used the reflection in his bronze shield to line her up for the fatal blow. The coup de tete.

As you probably guessed, The Medusa  fits in nicely with the story of The Case Of The Fossilized Dog (see previous posts). And was kindly suggested by our well read friend LDahl  (who I see has finally come clean and revealed her secrets.)

The original inspiration from this image came from Arnold Bocklin's "Medusa" which you can see on this page. Bocklin has some amazing work, odd, spiritual and symbolistic. 

And speaking of 'odd', remind me to tell you about the bottle I found washed up on the beach last week. Inside was a neatly rolled up piece of blue notepaper. On one side of the paper was scrawled something like: 

"Help, I am imprisonned in the body
of a two year old boy.
My real name is Ghenkis Khan,
but my parents won't believe me.
Signed Tim."

'Odd' things happen in two's, not three's - have you ever noticed that?

Just the day before, while driving to work, I saw another 'odd' thing - "The Man Who Makes Traffic Lights Go".

He was in his early sixties. He had a long dirty grey beard. As he shambled along the footpath, towards the pedestrian crossing, he showed all the signs of alcohol induced neural damage. When he reached the curb, the Walk Sign was red, so he stood there wavering on his feet, gesturing shaman-like at each of the four traffic lights, one after t'other, like the conductor of a silent orchestra.

It sounds silly, but, when he waved his hands, his fingers danced like finger-puppet ballerinas.

As he stood at the curve, nodding back and forth, he flicked his wrists and splayed and pirouetted his dirty fingertips, pointing at each of the lights in turn. And when the lights changed on cue, unsurprised, he waved the traffic on with all the authority of the God of Traffic Lights.

As his hands danced through the air he had each driver waiting at the lights bewitched..... and each driver and passenger turned and watched him with admiration as they drove away.

And finally the grey haired God of The Traffic Lights flicked his fingers at his own "Don't Walk Sign".

On command it flashed green. Now it was his turn to cross. As he stumbled across the road, shambling and talking to himself, he waved on the traffic behind him with out looking back.

I peered into my rear vison mirror as I drove off and watched him as he dissappeared from sight. 

It was hard to believe, but I think The God Of Traffic Lights was heading towards the pub.

Be back in a few hours. There's lots of people I'd like to catch up with. And lots of kind comments I'd like to answer.Thanks for reading again. :) I wasn't sure about the blood. The distance betwen the eyes is a nod to the Pre- Raphaelites.

Apr 19, 2010

Illustration Friday: 'The Detective'

Hot on the Case of the Fossilized Dog

Just a quickie today. There's a story that goes with this, thanks to Ginger Nielson, artist extra-ordinaire, amongst others  for suggesting a continuation. Be back ASAP with the goods.

Thanks to everyone who commented on the last post, be back tomorow, ran out of time :( uggh BIg apologies. And looking forward to checking everyone's work... make sure they havn't been slack..!

Out of interest, the first image is using Poster Edges filter in photoshop. Adds a bit more hand made look?

Apr 16, 2010

Monday Artday: Friendship.

Act V, Scene VII, Line 136

"Her beauty makes
This vault a feasting presence full of light."

"The Invasion Of The Seven Paratroopers of Hell"

Well, you know......

Those times you open up a 'crappy' paperback that you found in that old cardboard box that used to belong to your aunty? And the paperback is all yellowed and cracked across the spine; and it's original price was one and ninepence; and in the frontispiece there is a quote from a 'well known literary personalty'.

And the quote is something like : "And the loaves and the fishes and, even the goldfish, blew down the backyard that chilly autumn afternoon, a dark omen of things to come, in the days before winter, just before the war that would destroy the entire universe and make everyone, even the local fish and chip shop owners, very, very unhappy...."  (Warwick Walden the Fourth Earl Of Tuddelsford.)

And you think, "hey this book sounds good," because you think, "hey, hey, hey! Warwick Walden the Fourth is being quoted on the frontispiece, so the paperback must be alright.... mustn't it?"

So you pack The Invasion Of The Seven Paratroopers of Hell in your bag for something to read at the aero-port.

 Unfortunately, at the aero-port, not only do you discover that your plane has been cancelled for nine hours because of a lock in the right manilfold engined-wart (or so a passing 'hostie' informs you), but you also discover, when you finally crack open the paperback, not only that the writer cannot write, that he is actually a master of the dronglebottom sentence.

Of course, as we all know, a dronglebottom sentence, is the sentence that never ends, yet never starts, yet seems to have no subject, yet dwells on the passive tense, as if being passive were the most important thing in the known universe bar breathing. Yet....


Well, getting back to the Warwick Walden the Fourth quote.

It's a well known fact that, throwing in a twist of Shakespeare, or Walden, or Thackery at the beginning of a book gives you something called 'resonance'.
Having an important sounding quote on the frontispiece, is like standing next to the last Pope at a public gathering. Being associated with the quote (or the Pope) makes you look important - especially if you are a pseudo literary type.

So what's this have to do with the Pope?

Well, I think you already guessed.....

For my illustration for Monday Artday "Friendship", I thought I would throw in some resonance. So, in the manner of the best pseudo literary types I googled Shakespeare. (thankfully the chap who invented "Google' didn't call it 'Goose' or , even worse, 'Roger')

Well.... specifically I yahooed 'Love's Labours Lost' - because I thought, now, "Loves Labours Lost", that's a kind of morbid title, seems sad, yet happy, yet morose. I wanted to show the boy in my picture with his girl on one panel, and then that same boy without the girl on the next. The idea being that the loss of love, or friendship just underlines how valuable love and friendship really is to the human psyche.

But unfortunately I couldn't find anything at all on "Loves Labours Lost' that seemed remotely usable.

So the above quote about 'feasting presence' isn't from LLL at all.

In the end I had to settle for something short and sweet from that sissy play: 'Romeo and Juliette'.... Her beauty makes, This vault a feasting presence full of light.

Well, you have to admit, it sounds pretty good. I mean it had the word 'light' in it, and so did my picture - which was lucky. So, today's resonance comes courtesy of Will Shakespeare, penman extra-ordinaire, but a bit of a sissy play writer.....
And you'll also be pleased to know, I was lucky enough to find a quote about 'boxes' as well. You never know when you are going to need a good 'box' quote, do you?

Thankyou for looking.

By the way, as this post is about "Friendship', I'd like to dedicate it to all my friends here. Thankyou for visiting - again :)


Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!

(Ah, at last, the promised box quote:) 'A beggarly account of empty boxes.'

Apr 15, 2010

Monday Artday: Ancient Civilisation

The Fossilized Dog

    Two old friends, Paul and Simon, had lived together for about eleven years.
    They lived together, bachelors, not by choice, but by bad habit and bad luck.

    They'd been best school friends, then best men at each other's weddings. They'd been the best shoulder to cry on when each was divorced, and at least one of them expected to be the best mourner at the other's funeral.... eventually.

   Their home town was Petite Aux Paris, in the American Quartier of Haute Provence, just north of St Remy. It was a small American Enclave of about fifty expats who, drawn together just after the war, had purchased an entire Bastide town as a butress against the overwhelming Gallic presence of their adopted country.

  About a mile from Paul and Simon's house was a bunch of Roman Ruins, mainly a giant cemetry, dated 125 AD. For twenty years the local société historique Française had uncovered it bit by bit, stone by stone, tomb by tomb, aquaduct by aquaduct.

   Neither of the men remembered who started it, but every year on Simon's birthday, the first of August, they'd take their dog Rusty down to the cemetry, jump the 2000 year old reconstructed stone fence, sit outside the deserted cemetry keeper's cottage and drink a flagon de Beauveau Nouveau Rouge Eclat de Lune till one or both of them keeled over and lay sprawled flat on the flagstones.

   But one year Rusty didn't come back.

  That year both of the men had overdosed a touch on too much Red moonshine and, unusually, they'd both collapsed together, one atop of the other, Simon in his pretend medieval soldier's outfit, Paul in the tuxedo he'd rented just for the occasion.

  By the time they'd regained conciousness it was dark and the full moon was in high swing. Embaressingly, Paul had vomited on his silk shirt, and Simon had twisted his ankle where the chain mail had caught on his leather under pants.

 But neither of them noticed Rusty till they decided it was time to go. They were halfway to the fence and Rusty still hadn't moved. Simon called him first, then Paul, then both men together. Their voices echoed back from the empty tombs.

   But Rusty didn't move, didn't whimper, didn't howl, didn't blink.

   It wasn't till they moved closer did they see the dull grey sheen on Rusty's coat.

  Sometime in the two hours that the men had been moonshined unconscious, Rusty had turned somehow to solid, grey granite - the same grey granite of the tombstones that surrounded them.

PS Later on that night they picked Rusty up carefully, cradling him in their arms lest he should break, and with their hearts in their pockets, went in search of the town's only all night vet.
PPs Pardon my non existtant French.