As you may have noticed, I took down the Harry and Silvio story last post. I did that because I've been talking to a publisher about posting them on their site and maybe collecting them in a book later. Shane Oakley recommended a couple of publishers who may be interested and one of them might be. Nothing's for sure in this and if nothing happens I'll just repost this but keep your fingers crossed! This would be so much fun to do. I will start putting together some minicomics to sell over the next couple of weeks so it will be available in that format.
Well, things are finally settling into some sort of routine. I'm starting to get to know Henry, the amazing and charming stranger who recently has moved into my house. Julie and the baby are out this afternoon so I'm indulging by reading comics in bed. I am feeling very recharged. Tomorrow I'm posting a new Harry And Silvio comic and I think I'll leave it up until next week end. This will give me some time to get organized and get some work done and give lots of people the chance to read the new comic. Above is the new character I mentioned, Maddy Kettle. I really love her and wonder if she shouldn't get her own adventures.
Having a baby in the house creates a dim, twilit world where it's mostly night and everyone talks softly and smiles a lot. We have the beginnings of a routine started which feels great, things feel like they're not always so busy but rather like there's a new schedule to work from. I'm not reading any novels right now because they would take too long to finish so I'm mostly reading comic strip collections Little Nemo In Slumberland, Moomin and Peanuts. When I read to Henry it's mostly Edward Lear poetry, because it's so much fun to say out loud. This drawing is coming from those places. Having a baby has me wondering: what's the point of music you can't sing along to?
I love stuff like this. It's a little rural village railway diorama in the hospital where we take Henry.Things like this really get my imagination going, the fact that it's nestled in a bustling place just makes it more magical.
I'm not complaining! I'm just saying I've been up for four days straight and am currently covered in baby vomit. I'm hiding in my studio during a rare moment of piece to work on some drawings. Of course I wouldn't change a thing. I love to steal these moments to draw or read. Something that really calms Henry down is walking around the house and singing "Innocent When You Dream" by Tom Waits. He just stares up at me with his head tilted with a slight frown on his face. I'm still trying to read his expression. It might be gas or he might be bemused. I can't help but think he's a little wiser then I am. I'm sure he's smarter. I'm trying to finish up a new Harry and Silvio web comic. I love it. It has a new character, Maddy Kettle, a cow girl who is probably one of my best characters. The above drawing is by the super talented, amazing, kind and all around wonderful Alicia Padron. Alicia lives in Venezuela and does wonderful, warm picture books. This picture is going up in Henry's room for sure. Thanks Alicia. And thanks for all your kind comments about Henry! I am overwhelmed.
We got totally caught by surprise in the best possible way. Sunday night I'm down in my studio working on a comic book when Julie starts having contractions upstairs. This is our first child and we really expected him to be late, so we assumed this was a false labour. When things escalated pretty fast we decided to go into the hospital but expected to be turned away and told it was still way too early. Instead they told us the baby was almost here. Apparently she had been in labour for seven hours. Henry David came along a couple of hours later. Of course this is all a blur now. We ended up sharing a room with four other couples. It was like a party was going on all night. And the newborns all took turns crying. And he knows my voice. When I carry him and talk to him he struggles to open his eyes and looks at me in very curious way. And Julie's great. she ended up not taking drugs so she had no lethargy afterwards. It's all been very magical. My life has added meaning now and my work has more depth. The bottom drawing was done in the middle of the night in a very short period when everyone was asleep and I had some moments of peace with Henry. I really appreciate all the well wishes everyone.
Here's something I started in Corel Painter when I had the free trial but was unable to finish because I got so busy. What a fun program. It started life as a watercolour painting and then I Photoshopped it a bit, painting the face with rust from a car and painting the hill in the background from a....hill. And then I played with it in Painter for a while. The sky especially is a Painter sky. It's a great program for those of us who didn't have the patience for real oil paint.
The baby is due very soon, tomorrow actually, so I'll probably not be posting on my blog for a number of days as things will get a bit chaotic for a bit. I plan on posting a new Harry and silvio webcomic tomorrow and leaving that up for a bit. That's the plan.
I have to admit I'm having a lot of fun right now. Julie is due on Monday and I finished all my illustration contracts . I planned ahead to work on some personal projects right now. So I find myself waiting for a a baby to arrive and drawing comic books. Really, really fun. I'm working on Bera The One headed Troll and Harry And Silvio comics. Above is Silvio. I was trying to make a list in my head of where I think Harry and Silvio come from. It's about a raccoon and a bear who live together on a cloud. Here's a partial list : animal folk tales like Brer Rabbit, Beatrix Potter, Maurice Sendak, Krazy Kat comics, Appalachian folk music, Bone, Loony Tunes, National Film Board animation, Frank Frazetta paintings, Jules Verne and I'm sure I could think of lots more.
I've been really busy lately. And stressed. I have a baby arriving soon and had a number of contracts to complete. When things are like this I find it really hard to concentrate and when I read I find I skim most of the book without realizing it. Not this book though, I really savored this one. I really loved this book. It was small and elegant and strange and just perfect. It's about an orphan who is adopted by all the ghosts in a graveyard and protected from forces that want to hurt him. The book is illustrated by Dave McKean and like all his books he has transformed this book into a beautiful looking thing. Anyway my point is I loved it and am recommending it to all of you.
Here's a new, large format scan I just had done of this drawing-before I could only post a very cropped shot. It's an illustration to a Sandra Kasturi poem. The werewolf and the girl work for the kitchen at the Faerie court and are collecting breadcrumbs travelers leave to mark their way home.
It arrived! Here is the art book made to accompany the Totoro Forest Project. It's beautiful! By far the nicest art book I own and not just because I'm in it either. there are 184 pictures in it, each one is amazing. the forward is written by John Lasseter of Pixar and there is a message from director Hayao Miyazaki. The book is really high quality. Some of the big names in here are William Joyce, Charles Vess, Ashley Wood, James Jean, Michael Kaluta, Scott Morse, Rebecca Dautremer and I could go on and on. The book sold out almost immediately, I really hope it goes into another printing. The second piece down is by Patrick Awa, an amazingly talented artist loving in California. He actually ended up buying my piece. And the bottom one is mine. Neat! The first thing I did when asked to do this was ask " Are you sure you got the right guy?" This was a huge honour.
The machines thrummed and hissed as Mina left the castle behind. Armed with her books and devices she would establish a new Academy. The betrayals of the Academy had made things worse then ever and it was up to her to fix it, even if it was all done in secret.
Before the series of tragedies that would sink the Academy into sordid obscurity, there were a great number of well publicized and government funded expeditions. Here is a photo of Charles Knott after returning from Antarctica and the recovery of John Dee's skull. The skull spoke and passed along information to the Academy for three weeks, after which it only spoke nursery rhymes with grotesque elaborations. It was locked in the Academy vaults. The skull is now believed to not be that of John Dee but rather an unknown magician from a more recent era.
It was far beneath the ice and snow storms in carved stone cities that Mina learned her craft. The mysterious creatures explained the art of clockwork doors to her in tinny voices that emanated from speakers behind clenched teeth.Two years later when the haunted airship returned for her she was ready to begin her quest. She met the first of her fellow compatriots when her airship fell under attack by winged creatures that sprang from a roiling black sea. Her rescuer became the first member of the Fogg Academy.
The strange creatures constructed her new arm before her eyes. Looking down at her stump it occurred to her that things had reached an intolerable level . She would have to leave her family. Many optioned flashed through her mind. Marriage. School. The Convent. The Arctic research station. The Arctic it was.
OK! Thanks everyone for participating! The reviews have been really good for this one. Here's what Aqua books in Winnipeg said "This is illustrator Eric Orchard's second book, and I think he's going to be the next Eric Carle or Dave McKean." I'll take that! And the winners of the two books are: Giulia in Italy and MiyaMask in Canada
Thanks guys! Please send me your addresses and I'll have these right off to you. And thank you everyone who participated. I really appreciated seeing all the entries come in.
Anything But Hank, the new book by Zachariah Wells, Rachel Liebowitz and myself just got a really nice write up in the Vancouver Sun. My favorite line is : "Serendipity played a hand in finding a first-class up-and-coming illustrator, Eric Orchard ," Read the rest of the article on line here. The article is by Lynda Grace Philippsen.
October has a funny effect on me. I think it's the suddenly shorter days. This is a piece for a proposal I did with Brett Alexander Savory. If you don't know his work you should really seek it out. It's amazing. He writes horror and I'm usually not effected by horror but his stuff is really, really creepy. I tried something different with this piece, painting mostly in watercolour washes and pasting lots of photographic reference on to it in Photoshop. Brett is also an editor at Scholastic and i got my contract with his help. Funny story how I met him. I was standing around after my signing at the Toronto Book Expo waiting to meet the designer on the Hank book when a woman approached me asking if I'd like a book signed. It looked good and had lots of nice comments on the back cover from very famous horror writers so I decided to read it and get it signed. I met Brett very briefly as he signed it and gave him my card( always carry business cards!) and he contacted me a few days later when I was in Montreal to tell me me he liked my work. I read his book, In And Down, on the train ride back to Halifax ( an almost 20 hour train ride ) and was blown away by it. I'd never read such a rich complex, visually beautiful horror novel. It really gave me a new appreciation for the genre which I loved as a kid. Anyway, more on this later, I thought I'd share a bit of it with you now.
I'm getting a new web site! Finally! I wanted something simpler and more elegant and to have it represent me better visually. The porcupine is Ingrid, who is on all of stationary as well. The new site will be completed soon, it's still under construction at the moment. The web designer is Elemental.
The new Ugly Doll waits impatiently for the baby. Not long now. I also wanted to share a new book I'm reading and really, really enjoying. Pretty monsters by Kelly Link. If you like Neil Gaiman and stories that are filled with magic check out her site which has a whole bunch of free stories on it.
Here's something I'm really excited about. And a glance at the work above will tell you why. These pictures are done by the amazing Mr. Shane Oakley, he's best known for his work on the comic Albion with Alan Moore, John Reppion and Leah Moore. Albion is a beautiful comic that explores the rich and strange history of British comic books. Shane and I have been developing the Girls Of The Fogg Academy into a comic book and it's looking better everyday. We've developed an amazing storyline and a world that seems real, it's the kind of comic book I'd really like to read. While working on this I've been startled by the depth and mystery this setting offers. Shane's work is so evocative, with it's long shadows and worn architecture. The faces are real, believable faces. And every line seems to suggest mystery and adventure. The idea here is I'll script the story and paint the covers and Shane will co-write and do the interiors. I'm hoping to have a proposal done in a few weeks. I'll give you up dates when I can. Happy weekend.
Today is the official launch of anything but Hank! To celebrate I'm giving away two free copies of Hank to two people. to participate just leave a comment. I'll draw the names next Wednesday. P.S. If you would like to order a copy I've added a PayPal buy now button on the right hand column.