Among other things, I’ve been working on my ‘People of the Pit’
graphic novel comic book (‘People of the Pit’ is a novel originally published in 1918 by A. E. Merritt). I’m still working on page 17 — which is (spoiler alert!) the page where Staunton, the man captured by the ‘pit people,’ describes how they forced him to worship their unknown god in their temple. Here is the current version of the page (still a work in progress, but I like where it is going):
The above version replaces the one below — it isn’t finished either, but I just felt like I got started on the wrong foot with the ‘black’ version and much prefer the version above.
Both illustrations owe a heavy debt to this version that illustrated the original story by one of the greatest American illustrators ever, Virgil Finlay:
Of course, as should be obvious from the pictures, the ‘people’ of the pit are not people at all — they are a race of ghostly evil semi-material slugs with mind control abilities. Yuck.
“People of the Pit” follows “Dagon” in my adapting of public domain classic horror and weird fantasy literature to a comic book. In the future, I think I want to ditch the graphics tablet in favor of pen and ink on paper, maybe adding the text via the magic of digital wizardry. I like the digital workflow (being able to just ‘redo’ a whole page right on top of the old version or move stuff around is great), but pen and ink on paper often gives a character to the line and drawing that the slick surface of the digital tablet can’t replicate. And drawing on the tablet with a stylus just seems to make my wrist and arm more sore than drawing on paper (I think its the repetitive motions of my wrist and hand when drawing on the smaller tablet and I tend to clench my hand because the glassy tablet offers less resistance than the pencil on paper).
Finished this painting recently for a book by Goodman Games for Mutant Crawl Classics called “The Dataorb of Metakind” by Jim Wampler and Tim Kask. Backers should be getting their PDFs now — not sure when print books will be here. Link to the Kickstarter.
This painting is going to be offered for sale at a charity auction to benefit The Art Experience… a not-for-profit arts education group for children and adults in Pontiac, Michigan. The event is the 2017 Halloween themed art sale with party, bocce ball, food and drinks, etc., on the 26th of October at Goldner Walsh Nursery. I won’t be there… but this painting will.
EDIT: Oct 13, 2017… the Art Experience called me to tell me that the Halloween event on the 26th at Goldner Walsh was cancelled. The event will be rescheduled for sometime in November.
The above illustration is from the Goodman Games “Monster Alphabet” leather edition. This image was printed in metallic foil on the back cover of this special edition of that book… so imagine the black parts of the above image are brown leather and the white parts are printed in gold foil. Link to the book on Goodman’s site. Goodman also sold a version with a regular (color) cover and a faux leather and foil edition. I did the artwork for the leather and faux leather editions… the color cover was by Jim Holloway. Interior art in all three books by Jeff Easley, Fritz Haas, Jim Holloway, Doug Kovacs, Diesel LaForce, William McAusland, Brad McDevitt, Peter Mullen, Russ Nicholson, Erol Otus, Chad Sergesketter, Chuck Whelon, Michael Wilson and myself.
One of my favorite pages from the Monster Alphabet was the ‘dice drop’ table designed by Jobe Bittman and then ‘prettied up’ for publication by me:
In order to create a random mythological beast, one grabs a handful of 12 sided dice and drops them on the page — where they land tells you how the creature looks, if it has wings, etc. They call this a ‘dice drop’ table.
Yesterday, I posted a 2 page spread from the comic adaptation of A. E. Merritt’s story, “The People of the Pit.” I said I wasn’t quite happy with my drawing of the mysterious city in the pit, so I improved it (see above).
I’ve been working on other things… I swear… I’ve also been working nights in the ‘straight world‘ and trying to keep head above water and soul and body together, but here is a still unfinished 2 page spread for “People of the Pit.” The pit seems to be all I post about on this web page these days.
I’m not convinced yet by the city in the lower right hand corner — not weird enough. But if you have ever read Merritt’s original story, translating what he terms the city into an image is hard, so I may have to take another run at it (this is try #2). Think I have to rework that and fix some things but like the overall composition and the way the 4 panels fit together and mirror each other.
It feels strange to say it, but for the first time in my life I feel like I might be an artist. I’m not claiming this work is the apex of artistic achievement (I’m certain it isn’t). I just feel like my own relationship to my work is evolving. I’m more interested in what I will do next and feeling less desperate about my talent and vision.
Work continues on “People of the Pit” despite interruptions for other projects and life stuff. According to Merritt’s story, the protagonist discovers a gigantic pit in the wilderness… the bottom of which hides an ancient civilization. My drawing probably doesn’t make the pit big enough — “Imagine the Grand Canyon five times as wide with the bottom dropped out.” In my defense, I wanted to make the narrator visible in the frame (there he is in the lower left hand corner)… if I had made the canyon any bigger, I fear he would have just been a dot when this finally gets printed.
I’ve never done such a text-heavy thing before… my hands are tired from all the lettering.