Thursday, April 4, 2013


I love beautiful books, and I love when attention is lavished upon the design of a book. One of the ways this attention manifests itself is in endpapers, which at one time were quite common but have sadly disappeared almost entirely. I was thrilled when my fine publisher Tin House Books contacted me about creating hand-drawn endpapers for my upcoming illustrated edition of Heart of Darkness. One visual element which was a constant thread running through many of my illustrations was the African jungle. Or, rather, the idea of the African jungle, abstracted to the point of being a single, massive wall of vegetation. That was my earliest impression of Heart of Darkness, from my first reading many years ago, and it is an image and an idea I keep returning to every time I make the journey through the story again. For these endpapers, I was fascinated by the idea of them literally enclosing and containing the book, and that visual of a massive wall of impenetrable, forbidding green jungle was the only option. At the last moment, I decided to include a small image of Marlow in the lower right corner since this is in so many ways his story. Right now, I am not yet sure if Tin House will include that image of Marlow or if the drawing will be cropped and slightly enlarged to show the leaves only. Either way I will be pleased, and I am absolutely thrilled that this next book of mine is shaping up to be every bit as beautiful an object as my Moby-Dick in Pictures was.

Here is my drawing for the endpapers...


  1. This looks fantastic! I love the marks you're making to depict the leaves and vegetation.

  2. hello dear matt, long time. love this, feels too like a surprise visit after long absence. i've not followed HoD like i did MD but this goes right to my heart and cheers me (along with this i have for background sound - home page to - do you know the guy? somehow his work touches me immensely)
    have little envelope contents waiting to go your way for ages... tbc lizzy

  3. Thanks Alex. This kind of leaf-drawing became a real hallmark of the "Heart of Darkness" project for me. The first block in the foundation of the visual vocabulary of symbols I created for the book. It was good to revisit that for a bit, but I am also anxious to move on to other things. It will be nice to hold this book in my hands though, when it is finally complete.

  4. Lizzy! It is always a pleasure to hear from you! I was reading a comic story in an issue of "Heavy Metal" a few days ago, drawn by Enki Bilal, and I was remembering how you were kind enough to send along that write-up about the death of Moebius from one of your French newspapers. It had a portrait of Moebius, drawn by Bilal, so that story made me think about you and wonder how you were.

    "Heart of Darkness" was a very different kind of experience for people, I think, than "Moby-Dick" was because I was not posting a new piece of art every single day, and I did not post the entire 100 illustrations on-line. In some ways I guess that was the more professional thing to do, but I did miss that feeling of having people come along on the journey with me. Sad to do it more alone, like this.

    Hamish Fulton is currently in my headphones right now, thank you for passing this along to me. Odd that the sounds of birds and footsteps, twigs and wind could seem so hypnotic, rich and fascinating!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.