Monday, August 30, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 359

Title: This is what I mean. If unmolested, upon rising to the surface, the Sperm Whale will continue there for a period of time exactly uniform with all his other unmolested risings. Say he stays eleven minutes, and jets seventy times, that is, respires seventy breaths; then whenever he rises again, he will be sure to have his seventy breaths over again, to a minute. Now, if after he fetches a few breaths you alarm him, so that he sounds, he will be always dodging up again to make good his regular allowance of air. And not till those seventy breaths are told, will he finally go down to stay out his full term below.

7 inches by 8.5 inches
ink on Bristol board
August 29, 2010


  1. I know I wasn't the only one who counted them. Awesome stuff Matt. How long did this one take? And were you cursing yourself after you came up with the idea?

  2. This is a goofy question: do you limit yourself to text fully contained on the page, or when there is a long quote that may stretch to another page do you allow that? I guess my question is how much do you stick to the rules that you have set up for yourself?

  3. Hey Sean! This one took me a little under 2 hours, which is a bit long but not terribly so. The toughest thing about this piece was that my hand was cramping up pretty badly by the end. Every single one of these little panels is tiny, and drawing panel after panel really took a toll on my hand and wrist. Still, somehow, I had a lot of fun doing this one and it is another favorite of mine. I still think that there is really no better visual medium than comics to show the passage of time.

    Second, I don't think that's a goofy question at all. I generally do limit myself very strictly to the text that appears on a single page of the Signet Classics paperback edition of the book. There have been two occasions where I broke that rule because I really wanted to illustrate a particular line and that line stretched across two pages. Since I am deeply superstitious and occasionally a stickler for discipline and consistency, I counted the number of letters in the passage I wanted to illustrate and whichever page had the most letters was the page number I assigned that illustration too. Obsessive, I know. I wish I could remember which two pages those were but honestly I can't.

    I gave myself very few rules for this project, especially in terms of media and visual representation, but the rules I did give myself (one illustration per page, one illustration per day) I have followed very diligently.

  4. this is so lovely, minute and considerate... after the wonderful technicity of 358 - and - oh my god! - 357 so heart wrenching

    also, i am always touched with your modesty


    belated happy b'day to your wife and thanks to her for her part in this


  5. Thank you very very much for all the kind compliments, Lizzy. I will pass those words on to my wife as well. This one really qas quite a bit of fun to do because, as I have mentioned, I first began drawing by making comics. In a sense, that will always be my starting point, so it has been strange and a little delightful for me to see how those influences make themselves known in surprising and unexpected ways. Hence this image.

  6. Really love this one. So many allusions come together into a single brilliant image.

  7. Thank you Titus. I am always surprised at which images seem to get picked out as other people's favorites. Every now and then, someone with a blog or a Tumblr account will link to a specific illustration to sort of share it with everyone else. This one really seemed to strike a chord with people as I saw it on several Tumblrs and it ended up with around 1029 "notes." I am very thankful for that.


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