Space and Time Magazine commissioned me for a second illustration. This time for a story by author Evey Brett titled "Twisted-Up Things."
Twisted-Up Things takes place in a fantasy world but with slightly more technology than the average tale (shotguns and pocket knives exist). For me the story has notes of Shelly's Frankenstein and a more serious and personal undertone than the last illustration I did for Space and Time.
I had a lot of stops and starts with this one. I liked the characters and my first instinct was to illustrate my favorite scene when the main character finds their first semblance of peace and acceptance on an old farm. The illustration would have been in my usual cartoonish style and would have had shadow fey lingering in the shadows and corners of the frame. If it had been a book, I would have loved to have completed this illustration for the interior.
But then over the course of a few days the story began to sink in and I realized this scene was too calm and peaceful, wasn't necessarily going to visually draw in the viewer, and generally misrepresented the soul of the story. More importantly, I realized that my cartoonish style could not do the story, or the author, justice.
So I tried something new.
One of the best illustrated Frankenstein stories is Bernie Wrightston's Frankenstein. I've admired the detail and style of those images for a few years now and I loved the idea of trying to shade the image without crosshatching. Finally I had a use for my old magnifying glass!
Eventually i settled on the image of the main character curled in pain in a hay loft. Other elements from the story filled in the open spaces and even the shadow plays a purpose.
References were from Bernie's Frankenstein, old barns, fantasy spiders, Ren-Fair leatherwork, and some ancient and not so ancient symbols, but NOT any reference to actual hay. I was having just too much fun drawing squiggles to try and make it look like real hay. Plus, i decided, "You know what? Why wouldn't this hay be as twisted as anything else in the world? Those troublesome fey!" And that made everything better.
I'm very happy with the style experiment and proud of the illustration and to be a part of this story. The only drawback was that my hands were aching like all get out through the whole process. All those little lines took a tole on my osteoarthritis.
Worth it, though?