After Altera is refreshing new story by author Andrew Reichard, recently published in Issue #137 of Space and Time Magazine.
The story begins with a young girl climbing out of the old family wardrobe having spent a lifetime in the distant world beyond it. The story then focuses on the challenges and social isolation that result from having an adult brain in a child's body and the distant dysfunctional dynamics of the family the main character now suddenly finds herself reinserted into.
There's a moment in the middle of the story where the "girl" and a classmate with a developmental disability are talking and I very much wanted to use this for the illustration. I don't recall ever seeing a person with Down Syndrome, for example, illustrated in a magazine. It would have felt good to provide some representation for those families. I had the whole picture mapped out and there would have been elements of fantasy galleons in combat to keep things interesting. But in the end this would have been a very self-serving illustration and would not have honored what I thought was the core of Andrew's story; the intellectual isolation; the internalization and external social exile.
Putting the characters in one picture but distancing them visually and psychologically seemed a better option.
Sometimes I wonder if it's better to reveal secrets or leave them to be discovered on their own. In the illustration there's a forest, a lion, a light post, a very wardrobe-like mirror, apocalyptic stars, a particular college's team's logo, and more. The lighting and perspective lines for each of the characters are deliberately individualized to help visually isolate the players while they share the frame.
There was some difficulty getting the expression on the the girls face right. But eventually she came through (hopefully) looking pensive, longing, and like an old soul who's seen some shit in her lifetime(s).