So after months of nearly nonstop picture-making for Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom I’m taking a short break before I start weeks of picture-fixing for the same thing, and with the same pictures. Because the whole weeks/months issue gets a little wearing, no matter what the work’s for, and it’s almost always more fun to build stuff than it is to turn that stuff into pictures.
So I’m modeling a rocket. You can’t go wrong with rockets. And it’s been quite a while since I built a new one.
Like most of my rockets, this one’s in the style of the personal rocketing devices we first saw back in the late 1920’s, in the earliest pages of the Buck Rogers comic strip.
Those open-cockpit flying roadsters were not much like the real rockets we came to know (and often fear) a decade or so later. No, these are "rockets" in the sense that they’re flying vehicles whose workings are mysterious to us, but which ought to look something like this.
You ask me, they still ought to.
Anyway, this one needs more surface detail, especially on the dashboard, and actual materials before I’ll use it anyplace. But it’s ready for those finishing touches whenever I figure I need it. Truth to tell, I should probably be adding to my library of Retropolitan buildings instead; but I just felt like making a rocket. So there.
This morning marks the milestone that at least one of us has been clamoring for: I think I just finished the first pass on my illustrations for Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom. I’m hedging my bets there because, a.) sometimes I change my mind, a day or so later; and, b.) the last one – the illustration for Chapter 1 – has been kicking me up and down the street and I can’t be sure that it won’t continue to abuse me.
For those reasons, that’s not the illustration for Chapter 1 that we see up above. What we do see – and what the reckless among us may click on, to see embiggified – is what I call “Pseudoendpapers A (Front)”.
In the unlikely event of a hardcover edition this would make one half of a pair of endpaper spreads; in the rather more likely trade paperback edition the pseudoendpapers would become simple two-page spreads at the beginning and end of the book.
The pseudoendpapers are (still) crying out for taglines. The text you see at the top here will probably not make the cut because it’s a kind of spoiler. It has the right tone of melodrama tempered by farce. It’s just not quite what I need.
So the taglines are one thing I still need to do. The other things add up to revisions to six of the chapter illustrations. The revisions range from mistakes (“Oops! I forgot to put the shazbrogenator in there, when it’s clearly described in the text”) to enhancements (“That’s not crowded enough for a crowd scene”) to potential explosions (“What the heck was I thinking there, anyway?”). I’ll probably be working through those issues for the next few weeks.
So I’m a couple of weeks behind schedule. I guess that’s not too bad, percentage-wise, when the schedule covers about six months. Back in my days of art direction I’d always pad a schedule by about 20%; but I can’t fool myself that way because I am myself: too canny to be taken in by that sort of subterfuge.
The only bit that’s running seriously behind is the next book. I expected to be pounding the keyboard by now, but I’m still thinking some things through and dreaming of index cards. As one does.
They thought they were supporting the arts. They believed their perspectives would be broadened by an exposure to mid-century illustrative art. They probably expected some Chablis and cheese.
They never expected the Pulp-O-Mizer.
Dehn Gallery curator Jane Rainwater admits in a rueful email that her brain, temporarily hijacked by thought worms from space, concocted a hellish plan through which the visitors to her Planet Pulp exhibit were subjected to the horrors of Pulp-O-Mization in what had appeared to be an innocent gallery opening. As yet there is no reliable report on casualties due to the many tentacles and cocoons that now obscure the site of the tragedy.
Dissenting journalists may report this differently. What’s known – and I mean here, what is known for certain – is that the Planet Pulp exhibit opened last night at the Dehn Gallery in Manchester, Connecticut. As part of the festivities, the gallery’s visitors were exposed to the Pulp-O-Mizer and they… played with it. And claimed that it was fun.
In the interest of public safety, the Pulp-O-Mizer has been removed from the premises and as a result it should be completely safe for visitors to view the thirty pulp science fiction covers in the exhibit. It should be safe.
No blame should be assigned to the paintings themselves, which are a part of the Robert Lesser Collection (New Britain Museum of American Art) and have, until now, never knowingly exposed viewers to Pulp-O-Mization or thought worms from space. The paintings are well behaved; they have no criminal records; and they’ll be in display at the Dehn Gallery through November 1.
These paintings have experienced a terrible trauma. Anyone in the area should pay them a visit and express their condolences.
Theres’a a large gallery of Ed Emshwiller covers over at The Geeky Nerfherder. I found them this morning through Charlie Jane Anders’ helpful link at i09.
Emshwiller is probably best remembered for the Christmas covers he used to paint for Galaxy magazine. (In fact I’ve been meaning to do a sort of homage to those for the Pulp-O-Mizer; just haven’t gotten around to it.)
But he painted plenty of covers that didn’t feature a four-armed Santa Claus, and it’s nice to see so many of them collected together.
These are a little too modern for my taste; that might be because some, like the Andre Norton book covers, are things that I can actually remember. But – all questions of anti-nostalgia and decade prejudice aside – there’s some fine work in there.
Once you’re done browsing, you can read a bit more about Emshwiller at The Field Guide To Wild American
Here’s the latest illustration for Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom: this one’s for the final chapter in the book, though this isn’t the last illustration in the set.
One reason this picture took longer than most of the others was the little pigeon-like ornithopter in the foreground. The ornithopters show up many times in the story, but up to now I didn’t need them in any of the scenes I set out to illustrate. So here I was, nearly at the end of the long, long series, and I found that I needed an ornithopter after all. I spent several days building one.
The other reason this took awhile is that it’s not the picture I planned to do next. I thought I was going to work on the illustration for the first chapter. I continued to think that through three—or maybe even four—false starts, until I realized that I ought to set that one aside to simmer for a bit and do this one, instead.
It may be that I’d spent so much time thinking about the first chapter’s illustration that my brain had decided that This Is Really Important, and brains shouldn’t be allowed to think things like that, because when they do, things like this happen.
But my brain and I need to come to some kind of understanding about that now; the first chapter is the only one left to go. After that, I want to do some rework on about six of the existing illustrations, and after that, I have a pair of two page spreads to do. Those are meant to be sort of like endpapers: one at the start, and one at the end, and between them they should show us all the major characters in the book. Even with twenty-one illustrations there are a lot of people, both human and mechanical, who didn’t get their close-up. Or their long shot, for that matter.
And then (finally!) all the illustration work should be done and I can get back to worrying about what’ll become of the book. Because, you know, I haven’t been thinking about that. At all. Not me. Oh, no.