To me, the sea around him looks more "horrible" or dread-inspiring than the tail. That tail looks hopeful!
It's funny you should mention that, Anja. I had initially planned on making the tail a horrible thing, full of inky brushtrokes, eyeballs, horrid grinning mouths, and so on. This piece is on a larger piece of paper, so as I was brushing down the green I started to get worried about how many hours it would take me to do that. I set the page aside for the green to dry, but as I did so, I kind of liked how it all looked. To me it looked, as you mentioned, like a horrible and dreadful sea but with a ghastly and spectral tail rising from it. Again, alluding to the unsettling "whiteness" or Moby Dick. Anyway, the page sat out to dry for an hour or so, and as I was bringing it back into my studio trying to decide what to do with it, my wife saw it and remarked how much she liked it as it was. That kind of sealed it for me since I was leaning toward leaving it that way. Perhaps her response might have been slightly different had she known at that time what the line was, but for me there is still something a little sinister and unsettling about the image.Nonetheless, it always fascinates me to read how other perceive these illustrations. One can never truly control how others will view the work, and I am always pleased and often surprised by what other people see, especially when it is so different from what I see. I guess that was a long way of saying thank you, and that I am actually really glad you shared how you saw something so very different in this piece!
It would have been a shame to change this image in any way more. Now that I know the story behind it, I like it even more.
Thank you Anja, I really do enjoy sharing the stories behind these pieces occasionally. I would do so more often in the blog posts themselves, but I'm not sure if visitors would get tired of me going on and on like that. So I'm glad when I have a specific reason to write more about a piece.