“And be careful you don’t let go of it till after you’re dead.”
‐‐Ghost in the Corn Crib
This particular illustration for RA Lafferty's story Ghost in the Corn Crib had some rough starts for me. After several aborted tries, I ended up using a tiny 1-inch sketch scanned at high resolution and worked out the details in the computer.
It's the first illustration I would not send my grandmother. My mother, always proud to show off my work, raised a few eyebrows with it at her workplace.
But I'll stand by it, as the physics in the picture work the same as they do in the story (intimidating ghost and all).
This illustration, at some point, had text on the wall behind the character that read "Dare to Know Your Heroes." It was to be an exclamatory charge into battle against preconceived expectations, and my answer to the old adage to the opposite.
"Never meet your heroes" is a good warning for avoiding disappointment. But it recommends we hide in our sunny, honeysuckle worlds and that our heroes be larger than life. It is not a path to acceptance or any other real understanding of an individual. Perhaps I expect less of my heroes than others. Perhaps I expect they be like me, human and working against their flaws.
Just as I finished the illustration, a discussion spilled into the Lafferty Facebook group with some expressing concern that Ray's drunken exploits at conventions would stain, overshadow, or otherwise take away from his literary works.
I understand their concern but disagree. In fact, with convention tales as eccentric as any of his short stories, I think it only makes reading Lafferty more interesting, endearing, and complex.
Nevertheless, I struck the text from the illustration. Partly because I was still introducing myself to the group. But mostly because the lettering itself started to feel too heavy handed.
“Papa Garamask,” Chavo chortled in a booming giggle from above, “fear you nothing. I will roll boulders down on Sinek and kill him.” ---Frog on the Mountain by R.A. Lafferty.
Illustration by Anthony R. Rhodes.
“Oh, no, no!” Valery forbade. “Not again. That way is rump of skunk and madness.”
‐‐Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne
My illustration for Ray's classic time travel tale, Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne.
This might be, at least as far as I am aware, the first attempted visual representation of the Institute for Impure Science. Also referenced here: Tron, Lafferty's door, and of course, rump of skunk and madness.
Tomorrow is to be the official press release for LAFFCON1, the first conference dedicated to R.A. Lafferty. Normally I would never jump the gun on something like this. But today I have the liberty of being unwatched, hidden from view, shouting from an abandoned hilltop into an empty valley. So, what the Hell? Might as well.
There were three rough sketches created for the poster.
The organizers went with option #3. Which was a good choice.
They opted to remove the shadowy figures from the final version to avoid confusion, but here it is as originally intended, purple ghosts and all.
They lay down in the red roaring river, and one of the giants set a heavy rock on the breast of every person of them to hold them down.
An illustration for R.A. Lafferty's climax to the short story Boomer Flats. Originally intended to accompany a particular essay in Feast of Laughter.
I decided while sketching this out that I would try to draw characters that reoccur in the stories, like the various members of the Institute of Impure Science, as consistently as possible across illustrations.
I don't plan on overtly identifying who is who, but over time I suspect people will be able to put faces to names.
“Shriek, shriek,” said Mama Regina, but her voice was muffled.
‐‐The Hole on the Corner
Hands are busy finishing up the fine details of the next Feast of Laughter, the R.A. Lafferty bookzine. To celebrate their hard work and as a belated hurrah for Lafferty's birthday (Nov 7), here is an illustration of Ray's classic short story Hole in the Corner.
This was my second illustration still learning the basics of Inkscape. I remember going to a lot of trouble to get what few details there were of the monstrous Homer into the illustration.
Only after I had finished did I realize I'd made the human legs short.
Cute thing about the above illustration; it had been so long, I'd forgotten how to sign my artwork.
As a kid I was good at art
And I was good at science.
I went to college
Didn't make art for 25 years.
A quiet life.
Then along came Lafferty.
I saw an opportunity. I'd been in a vacuum for years. I'm not the sort of person who creates art in a vacuum.
Neil Gaiman led me to R.A. Lafferty. Lafferty, like me, is of Tulsa. I found the East of Laughter Facebook group. Then, before I knew it, a door was opened. You've seen, perhaps, what happens when you open the door to a vacuum. Everything inside explodes out.
Several of my illustrations will be appearing in the third volume of the Feast of Laughter serial (http://www.feastoflaughter.org/), a fan organized collection of appreciation for the man and his art.
There exists a short stack of Lafferty inspired artwork, mostly created in the 60s, 70s, and 80s when the man was alive and his books in print. To stand out from other artists I downloaded a free copy of Inkspace and taught myself how to draw in vector. It's a clean but tedious process akin to tracing a pencil drawing with inky Play-doh snakes. I could see what worked in previous volumes. Black and white worked, so that's where I started. The illustration above, Lafferty Bang Bang, was my first.
It has been enormously freeing, after so many years, to have a creative outlet and the Lafferty fan base has been nothing but supportive. It's been wonderful.