Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Illustration Process, or the Blogging Tour

I was asked by illustrator Jessica M. Lopez to take part in a form of artistically-blogged round-robin, which involves artists providing details regarding their creative processes and so forth. Jessica is a fantastic illustrator of ink, water-colour, and goodness knows what else. She specialises in themes of nature, tranquility, and all things magical.

Q: What am I working on right now?

I'm currently working on the third book in a series I’m illustrating for Boyd’s Mills Press called “Thor Speaks!” by Vicky Alvear Shecter. I unfortunately cannot provide any images of the work in progress, but I can present the cover of the previous title I did for the series which is “Hades Speaks!” due out this October.

Q: How does my illustration process work? 

I start out with various rough and ridiculous sketches and eventually narrow them down and fine-tune the ones I believe are in the right direction. If I’m illustrating for someone else’s work then I submit several sketches for them or their editors to examine and they will critique the ideas and let me know which direction they prefer and offer suggestions for things they wish to see in the illustration. We continue in this fashion until the final composition is equally accepted on both sides. Occasionally, if preferences begin to foreshadow an impasse, one of the party may offer salty language or throw a shoe.

Why do I illustrate what I illustrate? 

Because if I illustrate anything else I’ll turn into marzipan.

Nearing a week from now look for a continuation of this theme by another artist named Karla Giguere, who has an amazing imagination filled with vast, silent landscapes and peculiar individuals with questionable dispositions.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Curious Contents of Canopic Jars

This morning I found hidden within the canopic jar I purchased from an antiques dealer last Wednesday (whose shop has since vanished altogether, by the way) an epistolary of singular interest. Normally, I would not dare inspect the contents of such a vessel; let me be quite clear upon that distinction. My discovery was made solely upon the clumsiness with which I attempted to relieve the artifact of dust, which resulted in its subsequent enterprise to the checkered floor so fine for walking yet so destructive to a clay proprietor of the dead. To my bewilderment, that which revealed itself from out the rubble of pottery was not in fact, the ancient sand of gore but a folded bit of tanned paper bearing the initials S.S. I reflected a moment and considered the situation. It seemed the only logical counter to such an event would be to inspect the paper and observe its contents, which I did, but leisurely, so as not to appear too eager. I observed a single record in what seemed to be part of either a correspondence to a friend, an imaginary friend, or simply an entry in the authour’s own diary if he had one. If he hadn’t, I would suspect the former two possibilities suggested – unless the writer decided upon keeping a journal that very day and this was the start of his chronicle. In either event, the entry itself is unquestionably strange. It runs thus:

October 22nd, 1889

Shipment received from Cairo last evening was discovered empty this morning. Why, oh why did I wait to inspect it? At the o’clock of it’s arrival I had been late for a lecture in Paisley’s By The Sea and settled upon opening it in the morning. As I reached the foot of the stair the following day I observed the box had been opened, seemingly from within, and the contents missing.

I have since discovered curious tracks leading from the grounds into the moor. I shall investigate directly.

That was all that had been recorded. The significance of its contents is objective, and indeed, the mystery presented is very plausibly of natural instigation. Though the fever that haunts my brain naturally suggests otherwise.


Illustration © 2011 by J.E.Larson

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Bat-Man Mystery

What melodramatic melodies the dread shadow of the Bat-Man plays upon the walls of an Old Dark House! That fearsome creature of the night created by the adventurous mind of Bob Kane in 1939 is silhouetted perfectly within the looming door frames and rain-soaked windows of a ghostly estate. It is this pairing of character and setting, which is so uncannily suited to one another, that inspires these series of images.


Batman is a registered trademark of DC Comics

Batman created by Bob Kane

Illustrations © 2011 by J.E.Larson

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Dreaded Dance of the Hamburglar

From this morning's Mysterious Missives of Mystery:

Last evening at tea this paper accepted a parcel containing intelligence of a singularly provoking nature. The dispatch was authoured by none other than the distinguished Mayor McCheese – that merry magniloquent hitherto silent for so many years. It is true that communication from the strange and bewildering region of McDonaldland has been scarce if not entirely nonexistent, and that the authenticity of any news claiming origin to its boundaries may certainly be subject to ribald incredulity and utter disbelief. My own skepticism concerning this delivery was given not a nail to revolt as the dispatch bore the unmistakable seal of the good mayor’s office. In tones of great dismay (adjudged audibly as the message was set to a wax cylinder cleverly disguised as an oversized roll of Necco Wafers) the good mayor confessed his morose temperament was the result of the reappearance of one thought deceased some time ago following an illogical campaign of evil deeds limited to the purloining of hamburgers and confounding victims with incomprehensible mutterings garbled beyond any method of deciphering. Hamburglar! What nightmares that name conjures! Many suspected the inexplicable dialect of the rogue was either a tactic of terror, or a separate language altogether. In either event, the villain’s speech has never been understood by any living soul save the dread Captain Crook, who is believed to have been lost at sea soon after the bandit’s supposed execution. After which a less fiendish and more lovable personage usurped the primary scoundral's status as his corpse was presumably laid to rest in the McDonaldland Cemetery.

The incoherent and illogical fiend known as the Hamburglar is suspected to have resurfaced, quite literally, after nearly twenty-five years of supposed interment. It is now attested that a wave of burglaries has commenced in the region of McDonaldland which are in character suspiciously similar to those previously implemented by the muttering miscreant long ago.

Suspicions of his return prompted the exhumation of his grave under the supervision of the rogue's capturer, Officer Big Mac. Attendants looked on in horror as the villain's coffin was unearthed and opened to reveal a wax dummy attired in his trademark stripes and cloak.

Where the villain had secluded himself these great many years is open to the wildest of conjecture. What is known with relative certainty is that the original Hamburglar has returned to haunt the shadows of McDonaldland, and heaven help any unsuspecting hamburger.

* * * * * * * * * *

In truth I have always been fond of the Hamburglar, as well as the entire cast of McDonaldland. The representation of the character in the early eighties is what I remember most clearly, and as a child I was delighted at how spooky he was then. The illustration below was inspired by these memories and of the Hamburglar's portrayal at that time.

Robble, Robble.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Very Merry Halloween

On this evening of evenings, may Dracula rise from his coffin in good humour, may the Wolf Man roam the countryside in reasonable safety, may the Mummy find his Tanna leaves with little difficulty, may Frankenstein's Monster be understood by not only the blind, may the Invisible Man find himself without losing too much of his mind, may the Witch fly free from cannon fire, may Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy return to Monster Mansion, may scarecrows gambol by the light of the moon, may skeletons dance with impressive harmony, may zombies communicate more articulately, may spooks and spectres find merriment without fear of being chased by cats, may Garfield be not pursued by dead pirates, may Charlie Brown construct his costume more skillfully, may Linus see the Great Pumpkin, may haunted houses be even more so, may the candy corn be sweet, may the Jack-O-Lanterns be lit and may this world and the next be wished a very merry Halloween.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Snarky Cheshires and Ghostly Etiquette

Several nights ago I was replacing light bulbs and distributing literature in an attic that is seldom, if ever, the location of my footsteps. I keep in order such places in the event a listless spirit or bogle might be passing by and wish to have a nice read before they continue with their spooky business, for, as the historian had said after my putting him to inquiry so many years ago, “It might behoove one to keep such spaces well lit and tidy, which is the method behind this exercise – for ghosts can be induced to mischief if treated carelessly.” It so happened that on the evening I am accounting, my large, tuxedo cat had a mind to accompany me in this task, and directly following an exasperated comment on the deplorable disposition of a herringbone lampshade, made note concerning my latest illustration which he attested may be somewhat “lacking.” Being more than nettled, I addressed him haughtily and inquired, “In what, oh master?” To this he responded with an expression singularly feline, and at length suggested I consult the conceptual sketches I had done of the Cheshire for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and from these I might be enlightened. It took me a moment to realise that I had in fact, never produced a sketch of the Cheshire Cat, despite my illustrative excursion into Wonderland the previous year. “Brute,” said I, “you know very well I have accomplished no such sketches.” To which he quipped was precisely his point, and that in place of the “foolishness” I was at that time in occupation, I might consider producing an image of the feline who had been, according to him, “most worthy of attention to begin with.”

Never wishing to commence a creative instigation upon a flame I myself did not ignite, I was uffishly pestered then at the tempting nature of the suggestion, for the Cheshire Cat is after all, wonderfully charming, utterly delightful, and possibly the most familiar face in Wonderland. My dear tuxedo knew very well that I could not resist such a prospect, and purred triumphantly as I sat and began conceptualising the fellow later that evening.

Now, when executing an illustration that is intended to be a visual representation of a scene or story written by someone other than myself, I try to be as faithful as I possibly can to the author’s descriptions, while at the same time dressing it freshly in apparel of my own. The illustration I offer below is perhaps the furthest I have allowed my liberty to stretch, for there is no mention, as far as I know, of Jack-O-Lanterns in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The image of the smirking fellow perched atop a grinning pumpkin was too much an attraction that I gave in to my insistent reverie and situated him thusly before Alice. I do hope Lewis Carroll, the brilliant authour and creator of Alice and her adventures would consent to this bit of visual emancipation. After all, the Cheshire Cat is written to have only appeared upon the bough of a tree – who is to say he did not move about at some point during the interview?

Below is the latest sketch I have composed for the Cheshire Cat found in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The scene takes place in Chapter Six, directly before the Tea Party.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Toothy Villainy of Wisdom

Having a tooth removed from one's head is probably one of the single most distressing operations one might be unfortunate enough to undergo. Like most humans with teeth, I was the unwitting subject of four useless dental growths that are unscrupulously propagated as being wiser than any of the others before them. Three of these monstrocities were discharged soon after they made known their plans of despotism, foolishly leaving the fourth to brood and scheme at its leisure. Recently, this remaining miscreant began subjecting my mandible to excessive discomfort. Having sheltered this tooth for more years than is sensible, the devil was finally removed the day before yesterday following a considerable struggle. After witnessing the brute's tenacity in retaining its situation, the fight was, in retrospect, by no means fair, nor was it quick. The procedure was a battle, in all sense of the word, and after a length of time sufficient to promote worry, following volumes of incessant prayers, the tooth, at last, was excised. However, as it was directly held before me clamped in the jaws of that ominous-looking tooth-extraction device, it looked very incensed and offered me a few words, strangely enough with a dialect not unlike a certain Edward G. Robinson, that I cannot duplicate if I wish to retain my integrity as a gentleman. Now as I sit and record this experience, I am certain that not only was that tooth ill-tempered, but rancourous as well, for the requital of pain that has arrived following its removal is beyond description.

I have provided a sketch of the fiend as it looked succeeding extraction.