Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Now I can share the news. The series of illustrations I am in the midst of posting are all from a forthcoming book titled The Desert Places by Amber Sparks and Robert Kloss. It will be released some time later this year by Chicago-based Curbside Splendor. The cover below is one of my illustrations in a beautiful layout and design by Alban Fischer. I'm really pleased with what Alban did here, and thrilled to be a part of this with one of my old favorite authors Robert Kloss and one of my new favorites Amber Sparks. Creating these illustrations as visual responses to this book has been intense, harrowing, and nightmarish but I am so fucking proud of the work it almost hurts. I'll have more information on how to order the book when that is available, and the cover will be polished up when I can get Alban a higher resolution image, but here is a rough cut.


11 inches by 14 inches
ink and marker on watercolor paper
January 20, 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

THE DESERT PLACES: Above is the Light

I am creating 16 illustrations that will appear in a new book later this year. I don't want to say too much more about it until more information is made official, but it was a searing read and I jumped at the chance to do this. The illustrations will be printed in black & white, but I am creating them with some color since there is a possibility one of them will be used as the cover. Hence, as I post these, you will see both the color and black & white versions.


11 inches by 14 inches
ink on watercolor paper
January 3, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

My task is complete. Again.

Last night, I finished the illustration for page 100 of Heart of Darkness, as you can see in the above photo. The ink is still wet! So strange that almost exactly two years ago, I had just completed my first book and wrote a similar post to commemorate that. Completing the Moby-Dick illustrations was a much more emotional experience than this, but no less important to me. I think that is because Moby-Dick is such a different book, with so many moments of humor to balance the hatred and the horror. Heart of Darkness, while equally intense, truly was for me a long road through hell. Being done with this has not quite sunk in yet. I don't know why. Maybe because I had to sometimes keep it at arm's length lest it poison me too much. Maybe because I was more cognizant of the absolute need for balance this time, and made sure that I gave myself time to step away from the horror and enjoy life. Maybe because...I don't know. I am at a loss. It's going to take me some time to step back and see the shape of this thing from farther away. I'm very proud of the work, and I think that when the book is out this fall it will be a truly unique vision of an important book. I'm honored to have the chance to share this with the world, and I think what I've done here is worthy. But I don't yet know what it means. To me, or to anyone else. How this one has changed me will take some time to show, I think.

But there it is, above. The final illustration for Heart of Darkness. Another book completed and soon off to the printer. I'm tired now. Very tired.

As before, thanks are due. This time though, I feel like I worked more in solitude. I suppose I am being a bit dramatic here, but until this reading, I don't think I ever grasped just how chilling and horrific Heart of Darkness is, and just what kind of monster Kurtz is. I feel like I worked in solitude to spare others from the horror of what I was immersed in. That to somehow bring others into that, even simply for support, would be to let that horror spread. I don't know, it's weird. And probably slightly martyring too.

Still, there are many people who helped in big and small ways and they deserve much more than a simple thank you. First, and always, to my wife, who quite literally kept me sane and held tightly on to the lifeline that ultimately led me back out of the dark places. I'd have been a suicide long ago without her. She makes everything in my life better all the time. My good friend Charley D., who introduced me to Conrad way back in high school. Without him, I may never had made the acquaintance of Kurtz. Author Justin Taylor for providing the soundtrack to at least the first part of the work. RF for her perspective, her willingness to "listen" to my venting and ranting emails, and for her unwavering friendship from thousands of miles away. Toni Bal and Sandy Longhorn, who visited the blog often, commented frequently, and seemed to have a good idea just what I was getting at with this. Lizzy G. from France, who always seems to show up at the right time with kind words. My friends at the gym, Chris, Jill and AJ, Dana, JD, Stephanie and Jeff, Tom, Wes, Kaylyn and Lindsay. I don't think I forgot any of you, but it was always good to hang out with you and forget about the work for a while. My editor at Tin House, Tony Perez, and designer Diane Chonette who has the unenviable task of taking all the art I dropped on top of her and hammering it into a book. Before I was ever involved in publishing I used to think that all that thanking the editor stuff was just a professional courtesy but now I see how essential the guidance of good editors and designers is. They are definitely equal partners in the process. Finally my agent Seth. There wouldn't be a book without him.

Okay, no rest for the wicked. I've got posts lined up all week, plus two more illustration projects to wrap up which I'll be sharing here, and, hopefully, a new and totally original graphic novel of my own to start work on this year. Busy. Very busy.