When I posted the first image in the series of drawings titled A Bestiary, I wrote "This is for a secret new project that may or may not come to fruition and may or may not be published. That is really all I can share now." Well now I can go into that a bit more.
I've had the opportunity to create illustrations for the work of writer Robert Kloss three times so far. First I did the cover and three interior illustrations for his novel The Alligators of Abraham, which you can see here. Second, I revisited The Alligators of Abraham for a series of five illustrations re-mixing that project for promotional use on a web site. You can see those pieces here. Finally, I was invited to create a series of illustrations for the book The Desert Places, which Robert co-wrote with Amber Sparks. Each of those experiences was intense, terrifying, invigorating and harrowing. However, for each of those projects, I was invited aboard after the writing was complete. That was an interesting way to work, and in some ways my process mirrored that of my explorations of Melville and Conrad, but I had been growing more and more curious about what might result from a true collaboration. This Bestiary is the start of that, and I am grateful to Robert for suggesting this and being so willing to work in such a way with me.
The way it works is this. Each week I draw a monstrous creature. I am responsible for creating it and naming it which, as you know, is essential. I send the image to Robert and he crafts a piece of writing based on or responding to or exploring or elaborating the beast I've brought to life in the art. We have no idea what the final shape of this project will be, how many beasts it will contain, whether it will be published, or how long this will continue. But so far the collaboration has gone very well and we both look forward to the changes and permutations it will bring. We intend at least one pass through the alphabet, for a total of 26 beasts, but we may attempt more. Also, once some of the written pieces are where Robert wants them to be, we will start sharing a few of those as well. I have seen the first one, which Robert wrote for the Armabrach, and I was shocked. It was utterly unexpected, nothing at all like I imagined, and so much the better because of that. Robert's writing constantly astounds me and I am absolutely thrilled to be working with him on this.